Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

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Sleep Well

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital for a healthy lifestyle and can help prevent or manage chronic disease. We can help you deal with sleeplessness so that you can be more alert and stay productive during the day.


Sleep is a basic human need, like food and water. Getting good quality sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle and can help prevent and manage chronic disease.

There is no standard definition of healthy sleep since the amount of sleep needed for feeling rested varies widely among individuals. You may feel rested with 4 hours of sleep, or you may require 10 hours. This table shows average sleep needs by age.

Age Average Sleep Needs
Newborns (0 to 2 months)12 to 18 hours
Infants (3 to 11 months)14 to 15 hours
Toddlers (1 to 3 years)12 to 14 hours
Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)11 to 13 hours
School age (5 to 10 years)10 to 11 hours
Teens (10 to 17 years)8.5 to 9.25 hours
Adults 7 to 9 hours
Additional References:

When to Sleep

Take a moment to think about your sleep schedule. Ask yourself: What time do I usually go to bed? What time do I usually get up in the morning? How much time do I spend in bed each night? Consider your answers, and think about these strategies for good sleep scheduling.

  • Get the right amount of sleep. Set aside 7 to 8 hours for sleep each night. Some people may need up to 9 hours per night, but if you are consistently requiring more than that, you should let us know.
  • Go to bed at the right time. Don't go to bed too early. Delay your bedtime so that you spend no more than 1½ hours more than your usual time asleep.
  • Get up at about the same time every day, including weekends.  Do this even if you did not get a good night's sleep.  
  • Napping. Do not take naps longer than one hour, especially late in the day. 
    If you need to make changes in your sleep schedule, don't make them all at once. Allow yourself at least 2 weeks to integrate these new techniques into your daily routine.

Myths About Sleep

The first step to getting a good night's sleep is to correct any misconceptions you might have about sleep. Here are some common myths, followed by the facts.

MYTH 1: If at first I don't succeed, try, try again.
Not true when it comes to sleep. In fact, the harder you try to fall asleep, the more likely you will stay awake. It is often better to get up and do something restful until you feel sleepy.

MYTH 2: I didn't sleep a wink last night.
It is unlikely that you got no sleep at all. Even during the roughest nights, most people manage to get several hours of sleep. We tend to underestimate how much sleep we have gotten. 

MYTH 3: If I sleep poorly on one night, I will be unproductive.
One sleepless night will not affect your performance very much unless your job is dangerous. When you sleep poorly, the best thing to do is go through your day without focusing on last night's sleep loss. 

MYTH 4: Drinking alcohol helps me sleep.
While alcohol may calm you and help you go to sleep, it actually increases the number of times you wake up during the night.

MYTH 5: Exercising before sleep helps me sleep better.
Exercise can help you get better sleep, but usually when you do it in the morning or afternoon. Sleep experts suggest that you get your exercise 3 or more hours before going to sleep.

MYTH 6: I can make up for lost sleep later.
"Sleeping in" might make you so rested that you will not want to go to bed on time the following night. The best way to recover from lost sleep is to keep on your normal schedule, even on weekends.

MYTH 7: Eight hours is the ideal amount of sleep.
There is no exact amount of sleep that is ideal for everyone. The right amount of sleep for you is what makes you feel alert and in good health. However, less than 6 hours per night is rarely good for anyone.

MYTH 8: Taking naps will make it harder to sleep at night.
Naps are a great way to reenergize midway through the day, and they can increase productivity and improve mood. The key is to keep naps to under an hour and to make sure they occur before 3 or 4 p.m.

MYTH 9: People do better getting very little sleep each night.
Powering through your day with little sleep may work during exciting times but not for long. Too little sleep affects concentration, memory, and reasoning. It can make you more susceptible to illness. Lack of sleep can also affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight.

MYTH 10: Prescription medications help with long-term sleep problems.
Those who have ongoing serious problems sleeping are best treated using cognitive behavioral therapy. Prescription sleep medications are usually recommended only for short-term relief of insomnia.

A Healthy Mindset for Sleep

Most people have occasional sleepless nights or periods of poor sleep. By making healthy sleep a priority, you can focus on strategies that will help you get good quality restful sleep:

  • Reduce negative thinking (also called cognitive restructuring).
  • Develop good sleep habits (also called sleep hygiene).
  • Manage your stress using relaxation techniques.
Be realistic

Think about these things when you are experiencing a stressful event:

  • We often worry about things that will never happen.
  • When you have a problem, think about what you would tell a friend in the same situation.
  • How important is it in your life? In a year? In a week?
  • Decide what is worth fighting about and let go of things that are not worth it.
  • If this is a real problem, worry will not help solve it.
Stay positive
  • The way you feel about sleep may have a lot to do with how well you're sleeping now. One bad night's sleep can leave us fearful of repeated episodes of tossing and turning. Before worrying about not getting any sleep, remind yourself of the following:
  • Losing some sleep one or even a few nights is not going to make you exhausted and incapable the next day. Most of us can handle a little lost sleep every now and then without serious consequences.
  • If you can't sleep, there is no need to stay in bed tossing and turning, worrying about the lost sleep. The best strategy is to get up, go sit in a comfortable chair, and read something relaxing for a little while. Many of us wish we had more time to do that during the day anyway.
  • Even if you feel you are not getting a moment of sleep, this is rarely the case. Most people overestimate how much time they spend awake and underestimate the actual hours they spend sleeping. You can have some wakeful time and still get enough sleep to make it through the next day.
Accept imperfection

Nothing is perfect. You may find faults in the way the world is run, and you may not like some things about yourself or your life. Try to:

  • Accept imperfections. There may be ways to work around them or with them instead of being upset.
  • Slow down a little. Think about the choices you can make instead of pushing and rushing through your day.
  • Relax. Instead of feeling angry about being stuck in a traffic jam, use that time to stretch your neck, breathe deeply, and think about sometime that brings you pleasure.
  • Think about something you enjoy. This can help you prevent or reduce stress.

Lifestyle Changes to Sleep Well

Your lifestyle can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. There are a number of changes you can make to your diet, exercise, and daily routines that can help you sleep better.  

  • Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake and stop smoking. Even in small amounts, these can disrupt sleep.
  • Exercise at least 3 to 4 times per week for 20 to 25 minutes. The timing of your exercise is important, too: you should not exercise within 3 hours of going to sleep, as this may disrupt your overall sleep quality.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and that your bedroom is quiet and kept at a cool temperature.
  • Do not use your bed for any activities other than sex and sleep. Try not to watch television in your bedroom.
  • Avoid using the computer within 2 to 3 hours of sleep. The light from computer monitors can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  • Do not drink fluids after 8 pm to reduce the chance that you will wake up at night to use the bathroom.

Related Health Tools:

Classes and Coaching
Interactive Programs

See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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