When you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep, you expect to wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the day — so why do you sometimes wake up with stiff joints and a sore lower back? Unless you have known back issues, or have an injury that could be causing pain, morning aches and pains are confusing and frustrating.
There are plenty of reasons you might wake up with sore joints and lower back stiffness. It’s important to drill down to what the root cause is for you. Luckily, we know a thing or two about mattresses and quality sleep. Below are the four most common causes for morning soreness — and what you can do about them.
Your Sleep Position is Out of Whack
We tend to fall asleep in roughly the same position every night — and each sleep position will have different effects on your body. Simply put, not all sleep positions are created equal. Some are much more likely to cause you pain and soreness than others.
People who sleep on their stomachs (an estimated 16% of all sleepers) are most prone to experience back and joint pain since this position pulls the spine out of alignment. Plus, the twisting and contorting that stomach sleepers do to get comfortable can put extra pressure on the neck, lower back and jaw — even causing major issues in circulation. Most sleep experts recommend stomach sleepers try to train their bodies to sleep on their sides instead, usually by propping their trunks up with a pillow.
While the problem is more severe for stomach sleepers, side sleepers can also unknowingly pull their spines out of healthy alignment because they’re using the wrong pillow (more on this later). Whatever sleep position you use, it’s a good idea to try changing up your sleep position to see if your morning joint and back pain subsides.
Your Pillow Isn’t Cutting It
Even if you’re sleeping in the right position, using the wrong pillow could cause issues. That’s because your pillow is just as important as your mattress when it comes to proper spinal alignment — and far too many of us are sleeping with the wrong pillow.
The trick is to pick a pillow with the right amount of loft for your sleep position. Side sleepers and back sleepers tend to need more supportive pillows, while stomach sleepers should search for a pillow that lays almost flat.
If you suspect your pillow is to blame for your back pain and soreness in the morning, check out these helpful tips on choosing the right pillow for your sleep position.
Your Mattress is Too Soft (Or Too Firm)
So you’ve adjusted your sleep position and you’ve upgraded your pillow — but you’re still waking up with a sore back and stiffness. What gives?
The vast majority of people who experience morning back pain and stiffness should look to their mattress — or, more specifically, their mattress firmness level. That’s because sleeping on a mattress that is either too soft or too firm can cause a host of sleep issues, including morning soreness and stiffness.
If you find that your lower back is stiff and tight in the morning, it’s very likely your mattress is too soft. This causes your spine to fall out of alignment, and causes muscles to contract rather than relax. If joint pain and stiffness are your main problems, however, your bed might be too firm — and could even be restricting blood flow through your joints. A mattress with contouring foam layers like a hybrid or latex alternative foam bed could be the answer.
Need help finding the right mattress firmness level? Check out these helpful tips for choosing the right bed for you.
You Need to Switch Up Your Bed’s Foundation
For a long time, adjustable mattress foundations were reserved for hospital beds and nursing homes. More and more people, however, are finally recognizing the significant health benefits of adjustable bases — and it’s a good thing. Adjustable bases can help with back pain and stiffness in the joints, sleep apnea and acid reflux, just to name a few issues.
If you suffer from chronic back pain or poor circulation during sleep, an adjustable base might be the perfect solution. Adjustable bases allow you to raise the foot and head of your bed in a more uniform manner than propping up your legs or shoulders on a pillow. That means better circulations through your limbs and decreased pressure on your back. Plus, adjustable bases promote sleeping in a better position to support spinal alignment and support, so you’re more likely to fall and stay asleep in a position that’s good for your spine health.
Morning joint stiffness and lower back pain are very common symptoms of a sleep system that needs some adjustment. If you aren’t sure what you need to change about your mattress, foundation or pillow, it’s always a good idea to chat with a sleep specialist. They can offer expert advice on which bed is best for you — helping you finally enjoy restful, rejuvenating sleep and happier mornings!