Can Physiotherapy Help You Sleep Better?

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Can Physiotherapy Help You Sleep BetterA good night of sleep can be the best medicine, but what if your pain makes it hard to get peaceful slumber?

While you may understand the importance of sleep, it can sometimes feel like there is little that can be done to naturally overcome a bout of sleeplessness or ongoing insomnia. But have you ever considered that physiotherapy might help you sleep better?

It may seem like a wild thought, but there are a couple of conditions with symptoms of sleeplessness that may be corrected with the help of physiotherapy. More so, physiotherapists can provide education on effective sleep habits that may help you sleep soundly and awake feeling great.

Physiotherapy Helps Sleep-related Medical Conditions

The benefits of sleep are too numerous to count. In 2014, Fern Toop, RPSGT, spoke to the Canadian Physiotherapy Association about how sleep may result in an improved mood, increased ability to focus, reduced pain, and a higher quality of life. But what happens when physical pain gets in the way of good sleep? This is often a reality for people who suffer from OSAHS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea-hypopnea Syndrome) and lower back pain.

  • OSAHS – When sleeping, some people experience upper airway collapse causing their breathing to be reduced or to stop altogether. While there are several treatment options of OSAHS, people who prefer long-term results turn to physiotherapists. According to, “… current evidences bring physical therapy and exercises [to] the front row in the treatment arsenal for sleep apnea.”
  • Lower Back Pain – According to a study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders lower back pain is often a symptom expressed by people who also have sleep disorders. In fact, there is a 55 per cent increase in reports of sleeplessness by people who recently experienced the onset of back pain. The study states, “The pain literature has shown that lack of sleep or poor quality sleep lowers the pain threshold and the mental capacity to manage pain, and it has been hypothesized that better daytime pain control may lead to improved sleep quality.” Therefore, the thought fuelling this study is that using physiotherapy to address back pain may also correct sleeplessness.

Physiotherapy Education for Best Sleep Practices

In some cases, a little education on proper sleep practices may do a world of good for people who experience daily aches and pains. In 2005, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy in the UK published “The Physiotherapy Good Sleep Guide.” It addresses how, with a little help, different sleep positions can “maintain the natural curves of the spinal structure to minimise stresses and strains.” For instance, sleeping on your stomach may not be good for your spinal health, but with the proper placement of a couple pillows, you can optimize your favourite sleep position to aid full-body wellness.

No matter what your favourite sleep position is, a physiotherapist may be able to offer you guidance on how to position your body so that you get fitful slumber and awaken feeling refreshed and pain free.

If you know you suffer from a physical condition that is linked to sleeplessness, be sure to let your physiotherapist know about your unique circumstances. Together, you can arrive at a plan that will help your body feel good, day and night.

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