How Your Sleep Time and Sleep Positions Impacts Your Health
These days, many of us are so busy with our work, family and hobbies, that it can seem like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. The result of this is that many of us aren’t getting the amount of sleep our bodies need to regenerate.
Is Eight Really Enough?
While some sleep proponents will insist that in order for the body to properly regenerate, at least eight hours of sleep are required each night, others will tell you that it’s quality over quantity that really matters the most.
What Makes for a Quality Sleep?
There are several factors that contribute to whether or not you’ll have a great sleep each night. These factors can include things like how much caffeine you consume in a day and at what time of the day, how soon before bedtime you eat your last meal, whether or not you exercise each day, if your text or watch a screen before bedtime, hydration, and your overall health. But one thing people may not be aware of, is how their sleep position impacts the quality of their zzz’s.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, many of our patients report poor sleep quality, and wake up feeling anything BUT rejuvenated. Some of the more common symptoms reported by our patients include the following:
•Feeling more tired than when they went to bed
•Sore achy or stiff muscles
•Neck and back pain
A careful account of the patient’s sleep habits must be made in order to target the cause of the patient’s poor sleep quality. And one thing we’ve found, is that sometimes it takes more than changing things like diet and exercise, to improve a patient’s sleep quality. In fact, one of the most common culprits is often overlooked: the position in which a person sleeps.
The Three Most Common Sleep Positions
Here are the three most common sleep positions, and associated complaints our patients report to our chiropractors:
Sleeping on your stomach is a habit that is developed early on in life. And while we really have no control over what happens when we’re asleep, it’s a good idea to try to break this habit as soon as possible. We have great tips on how to do that!
Sleeping on your stomach puts an undue amount of pressure on your neck, causing over extension. As a result of this over extension, the other joints of your body are also forced to bear an abnormal load and position.
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, treating the neck, upper and lower back pain experienced by ‘stomach sleepers’ is something we do on a regular basis.
Fun Fact – stomach sleepers have better digestion than most other types of sleepers, so it’s not all bad!
Sleeping on your side can be an ideal position provided you have the right amount of support in place. This means using special pillows such as a knee pillow or body pillow. Your head should be supported in such a way that it isn’t leaning to one side or the other, but rather is in a position that keeps the spine straight.
Our patients who tend to sleep on their sides most commonly report neck and shoulder pain in the morning, due in most part to the fact that their head is not properly supported or aligned with their spine during sleep or their pillow is to shallow or high. Pillows can be a big source of neck pain!
Fun Fact – people who sleep on their sides tend to be very laid back people!
Most people who sleep on their backs make the mistake of using too many pillows. While it probably seems most comfortable to be well propped up as you fall asleep, this is not an ideal position for a full night’s rest. Using too many pillows will cause your neck to be bent at an unnatural angle that will cause muscle pain and stiffness the next morning.
Ideally, if you are a back sleeper, you should use a shallow pillow. This allows the body, the neck in particular, to be in the perfect position and properly aligned, with no undue pressure on any of your joints.
Fun Fact – people who sleep on their backs tend to have great posture!
A Chiropractic View of How to Improve Your Sleep
At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, promoting the benefits of good quality sleep to our patients is an important part of the treatment plans we offer. The fact is, we spend almost a third of our lives sleeping, so the quality of our sleep is vital to our overall health. As well, patients who are recovering from injury or illness really need the recuperative benefits of sleep. That said, here are some of the things we recommend:
The quality of your mattress will have a huge impact on how well you sleep. The best mattress will support your entire body, distributing your weight evenly as you rest in a neutral position. We normally recommend a mattress to have medium to firm support. Mattresses also must be replaced around their guarantee expiry time (normal is about 10 years)! A common cause of morning stiffness in younger patients is an improper mattress!
Pillows are just as important as the type of mattress you choose. As we’ve discussed, sore, stiff neck muscles are a common complaint from our patients. We recommend using a pillow that offers adequate neck support will ensuring your body remains in a neutral position. If your pillow is too soft or too firm, it may affect your alignment during sleep, which results in a sore neck.
Another common mistake people make is using too many pillows. Being propped up in bed is ideal and comfy when watching TV or reading a book, but when you’re ready to close your eyes, you shouldn’t bit in an upright position.
We recommend our patients try a combination of different pillow types including knee pillows, cervical neck pillows, and body pillows to help find the most comfortable position, and reduce morning pain and stiffness.
How you sleep is important to your overall health. If you aren’t getting quality sleep, it could lead to all sorts of problems that include neck and back pain, stiffness, and a general feeling of not being well rested.
The Vancouver chiropractors At Broadway AT Yew Chiropractic & Massage, we recommend investing in proper ‘sleep tools’ such as mattresses and pillows, and if you’re still experiencing pain, we can help! This is something we have endless amounts of education available through our therapists and some stock available in the clinic! All you have to do is ask!