Sleep Quality can impact on your Health
Back pain, neck pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and arthritic pain can adversely affect sleep quality. The reverse is also true – poor sleep quality (from insomnia, sleep apnea or snoring) can impact on a person’s pain intensity and their ability to tolerate their pain. It’s no surprise then that our chiropractic care involves education and advice on sleeping. Our chiropractors will discuss sleeping positions, mattresses and pillows and which ones might best suit you.
The correct sleeping position
The position your spine is in while you sleep is important for your spinal health. The spine naturally curves forwards in the neck, backwards in the mid back and forwards again in the low back. In this position, the spine is relaxed with minimal pressure on nerves, muscles and spinal discs.
Sleeping On Your Stomach – Sleeping on your stomach will eventually create problems with your spine – it puts unnecessary pressure on your neck due to twisting of the head, and also strains your lower back.
Sleeping On Your Side – This is a better position for sleeping. Try lying with your upper leg fairly straight, and bend your lower leg at the hip and knee. Alternatively, bend both knees and hips slightly and position a pillow between both knees. Your pillow should be the right height to keep the neck straight. It should mould to the shape of your head.
Sleeping On Your Back – This can also be a good position for sleeping. It is often useful to place a pillow under your knees. This may help reduce strain on the lower back. Your pillow will need to maintain the forward curve of the neck. If you have a fairly straight back, then you should use a thinner pillow than someone with rounded shoulders.
We spend a third of our lives in bed, so choosing the correct mattress and pillow is vital for getting straight to sleep.
How do I know it’s time to get a new mattress?
- Every five to seven years – manufacturers and chiropractors recommend replacing mattresses over this period. It often depends on the quality of the mattress – better quality means longer mattress life
- When sagging starts happening (in the mattress, not you!) – saggy spots in a mattress result in people tensing their muscles to compensate for the uneven surface.
- When annoying peaks, dips or lumps show in the surface.
- If you are waking up sore with stiffness, aches or pains, it’s probably time to replace your mattress.
What should I look for in a mattress?
Research has shown that medium-firm mattresses reduce back pain, shoulder pain, spine stiffness and improve sleep quality. For people suffering from spinal health related conditions such as chronic low-back pain, it has been asserted that firm should remain the “first choice of patients.”
Pillows are often given little thought, but are quite important for getting a good night’s sleep.
How do I know it’s time for a new pillow?
- As soon as your pillow becomes “squishy”.
- If you tend to fold your pillow in half for extra padding.
- If your pillow looks flat and lumpy, or the inside foam has become powdery and brittle.
What should I look for in a pillow?
There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all’ for pillows. However, there are some important things to look out for when shopping.
- A pillow should have enough give to allow your head to mould into it. If it doesn’t, it’s probably too firm and could result in neck pain. If your head sinks to the bottom, it’s probably too soft, and could result in strains and sprains of neck joints, ligaments and muscles.
- Pillows should support the space between your head and shoulders. Your head and neck should remain level with your mid and lower spine.
- In many cases, you get what you pay for. While many ergonomic pillows on the market may seem expensive, they are more likely to provide long term spinal health benefits.
Looking for a chiropractor in geelong?
If you need further advice on a new mattress and pillow, pop in and chat with one of our chiropractors in Geelong @ Latrobe health Centre. If you’d like to find out more about our approach to your health click here.