Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for nearly 7 million working days lost in the UK in 2018/19, but new research indicates that preventing sleep problems may have the potential to improve chronic lower back pain.

The latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) indicate that in 2018/19 nearly half a million workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders and almost 7 million (6.9 million) working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

However recent research has implied that healthy sleep and preventing sleep problems could play a key role in preventing lower back pain.

The new study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined the influence of sleeplessness and insomnia symptoms on the probability of recovery from chronic low back pain.

The researchers found that people who often or even “always” experienced sleeplessness had a significantly lower probability of recovery from chronic lower back pain.

The findings suggest that preventing or reducing sleep problems among people with chronic lower back pain could have the potential to improve the long-term prognosis of the condition.

The NHS suggests the following 10 tips to prevent insomnia.

  1. Keep regular hours — try to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day.

  2. Create a restful sleeping environment — bedrooms should be cool, quiet and dark.

  3. Make sure your bed is comfortable.

  4. Exercise regularly.

  5. Cut down on caffeine.

  6. Don’t over-indulge in food or alcohol especially late at night as this can disrupt sleep.

  7. Don’t smoke — nicotine is a stimulant.

  8. Try to relax before going to bed — yoga and mindfulness may help.

  9. Write away your worries — making a to-do list may prevent you lying in bed thinking about what needs to be done the next day.

  10. If you cannot sleep, get up until you feel sleepy and then return to bed.

Last reviewed 13 February 2020