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4 Ways to Ease Aches and Get More Restful Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep not only makes you feel happy, it also speeds tissue healing, reducing your risk of aches by 70 percent, Cornell scientists say. And if you’re not getting enough Zzz’s because you’re sore? Try these simple tricks.

Back pain? Make a fist.

Wish you could make your tense back muscles just relax? You can with a trick called “progressive muscle relaxation.” Just tightening and relaxing muscles for 10 minutes before bed cuts back pain and restless sleep by 70 percent, UCLA scientists say, by easing muscle spasms. To do: Inhale while tensing your feet, then exhale as you relax. Repeat with each muscle group, working up toward your head.

Stiff knees? Give them a lift.

For relief from knee pain, lie on your back, lift your knees in the air and gently massage your legs, starting at your calves before moving over your knees toward your thighs, for two minutes. Canadian scientists say elevation paired with a quick rub flushes trapped fluids out of tender knees, reducing stiffness by up to 60 percent. The result: You’ll drift off 30 minutes sooner.

Headache? Savor a lemony sip.

Duke University researchers say a p.m. dose of magnesium cuts headache risk by 75%, plus tames right-now head pain so you can drift off 60% faster. Neurologist John Chen, M.D., explains that magnesium calms nerves and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Try mixing a scoop of magnesium powder into water before bed.

Sore all over? Put an ice pack here.

For blissful relief, lie down with an ice pack between your shoulder blades. It’ll cut allover aches by 62 percent and halve your daily pains if you do it nightly, a study in the International Journal of Rheumatic Disease found. Robin Miller, M.D., says chilling this spot raises pain threshold and calms sensitive pain nerves.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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