Three Things Keeping You From Getting A Good Night’s SleepMay 15, 2018
We spend approximately 40% of our lives in bed, and getting a good night’s sleep is important for your physical and mental wellbeing. It is also a crucial part of the rehabilitation process if you are injured or ill. For most of us, the hours we spend sleeping every single day are a time for rest and recovery. However, when you are dealing with pain or an injury, those hours can be frustrating and exhausting – the exact opposite of what they should be. It can be difficult, or even impossible, to find a comfortable position to fall asleep. Waking up to stiffness as well can also be just as frustrating – it isn’t a good way to start your day, and there’s a good chance that your sleep was not as restful as it could have been.
Ideally, your body should be held in a position of minimal stress while sleeping. This means that all your joints and muscles are resting in a neutral position, and there is no tension or stretching in the tendons and connective tissues. Over time, joints that are held in more extreme positions may put pressure on the surrounding structures and this may lead to a feeling of stiffness in the morning.
Would you like to sleep more comfortably, with less pain? Here are three common things that might be getting in the way:
If you’re waking up with a sore back, it could be a sign that you are using the wrong mattress. If you sleep on your back, you need adequate lumbar support. A mattress that is too soft might feel comfortable to begin with, but over time will let you sink too much, meaning the curve of the lower spine will be lost. If the mattress is too firm then the hip on the underside of the body may also be compressed under your bodyweight. Older mattresses can also break down, which can cause them to be unable to properly support you.
The correct mattress should maintain and support the natural curves of your spine throughout the entire night. It should be the right balance of firmness and softness for your bodyweight and common sleeping position.
While you may be attached to your current pillow, it could be the cause of unnecessary neck pain for you. The neck is a vulnerable part of your body, and when your sleeping setup is not ideal, it is one of the first to suffer.
If you find yourself putting your arm under your pillow while you sleep, it is likely that your pillow is too low. Having your shoulder in this position overnight can also put unnecessary stress on the structures in the shoulder joint. Side sleepers may let their neck fall excessively to the side with a pillow that is too low or have their neck elevated too much by having their pillows too high.
The importance of having a supportive pillow made of quality materials cannot be overstated. Remember how we mentioned above how long we spend in bed during our lives? We often don’t think about it, but spending money on a high quality pillow is an investment into your health.
Your sleeping position
You might be surprised to learn that your sleeping position can have a significant impact on your body, even if you don’t already have an injury.
If you sleep on your side: you likely keep your spine in a more natural alignment than those who sleep on their back. However, side sleepers often spend their nights with one leg crossed over their body. This can place extra pressure on the structures on the side of the hip, and can impact the health of these tissues as compression can reduce the blood flow to the area. Placing a pillow under your knee can greatly help with these issues.
If you sleep on your back: gravity has more of an opportunity to pull your spine out of its natural alignment. Some people also have a tendency to have pillows that are too high, which strains the neck muscles. When on your back, placing a pillow under your knees can help to maintain your lumbar spinal curve throughout the night.
If you sleep on your stomach: this is actually the least ideal sleeping position, and can be the cause of many issues. It is very difficult to maintain a neutral spine alignment, and often causes compression in your lower spine. There is little that can be done to improve this sleeping position, either. If this is your preferred position, it could be worth chatting to your physiotherapist about strategies improve your sleeping posture.
Any one or combination of these factors – or even all three – could be having a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Not sure where to start? Talk to us for more advice on how to improve your sleeping posture and find out if your sleeping setup is right for you.