Bad back? Chronically tired? Not sleeping? The doctor will see you now. Or should I say, Furniture Village will see you now?
That’s because as a GP and TV broadcaster I’m fully aware of the medical profession’s challenges in treating the UK’s twin epidemics of persistent back pain and insomnia.
More doctors’ consultations are taken up dealing with these two troublesome conditions than anything else and both can be measurably debilitating and exhausting. The answers do not come in the shape of painkillers or sedatives, however - these merely mask the problem. They treat the consequences and cause nasty side effects of their own.
Instead, my prescription is a comfortable bed - probably the most important factor of all in managing back pain, allowing the vertebrae of the spine to remain in the correct alignment whilst the surrounding muscles can ease out of spasm and relax.
A well-sprung supportive but comfortable mattress, which prevents you from rolling together with your partner in the middle of the night, overheating, or developing neck pain and pins and needles in your arms, can really help overcome difficulties with sleep and leave you feeling alert and refreshed the next day.
That in turn is much more likely to give you the energy and motivation to exercise your back again which your muscles desperately need if they are not to waste away and weaken, leading to yet more back strain and discomfort.
I’m always happy to see patients who come to me with pain and daytime exhaustion, but I’d much rather they invested in a good bed and prevented it in the first place.
Tips for a restful nights sleep
Avoid eating two hours before going to bed
Try to shut down at least one hour before bedtime
Mentally relax with some calming music or a book
Try aromatherapy in a warm bath before bed
Sprinkle a little lavender on your pillow
Keep the bedroom cool, dark and quiet
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
Check your medication with your GP