DO you know what one of the most common reasons people come to see us is?
It will have affected you, and everyone you know at some point and the majority will just chalk it off as one of those things, but they really shouldn’t.
We are talking about issues caused by ‘sleeping funny’. For those that suffer regularly with back and neck pains caused by ‘sleeping funny’, it is no laughing matter!
There are two issues that need to be put under the microscope here – What constitutes a good sleeping set up & the importance of a good night’s sleep.
You can’t really have one without the other.
So why do we neglect our sleeping set up and try to walk off the injuries we sustain as a result? It might be because we are prone to FOMO or ‘fear of missing out’, whether it is missing the end of a film on TV or leaving a night out later than you should have, we are all too willing to pass up a good night’s sleep.
If we knew how truly important it was then maybe our mindset towards it would change? We think so and so does Sleep Scientist Matt Walker.
According to Matt Walker, a world renowned Professor at Harvard Medical School, Sleep is our superpower.
If you are getting consistently good sleep the benefits are quite incredible;
– It aides recovery from injury
– Improves cognitive ability
– Helps store memories and improve recall
– Boosts your immune system
– Helps with study by improving your ability to learn
– Lifts your mood
– Gives you a more energy
– Produces hormones to aide weight loss
– Helps reduce risk of Cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and much more
As Matt Walker states – Sleep is your superpower, your life support system, Mother Nature’s best effort yet at immortality.
If you’d like to hear more about the importance of sleep from Matt check out his Ted Talk here – https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_walker_sleep_is_your_superpower?language=en
It is a great talk but be warned, if you’re not getting enough sleep it may give you nightmares.
So we’ve established sleep is one of the most important things you can do, now lets look at how best to achieve it.
Time to look at your set up.
The three most important factors here are your mattress, your pillow and your sleeping position.
Lets start with the mattress, it should tick all the below points
– Be firm enough that you don’t sink into it.
A mattress that is too soft will twist and unsettle your natural sleeping position, it will also cause your mattress to fail more quickly.
– Have enough ‘give’ so your shoulders and hips sink into it naturally without causing discomfort.
This will allow your spine to lie in a consistent horizontal position and help reduce unwanted pain.
If your mattress doesn’t firmly tick of the above points then I’m afraid a trip to your local bed retailer is highly recommended. Make sure you watch the Matt Walker Ted Talk again if you need persuading.
Next up, your pillow should…
– Have sufficient height that your head and neck are aligned with your spine.
If you sleep on your side it may be necessary to use two pillows to get the right height for you
– Be soft enough to mould into head without affecting spinal alignment.
If sleeping on your side ensure you have a firm base pillow and a softer option up top to avoid the pillows dipping too much and affecting your alignment.
There is an abundance of options when you are looking at mattresses and pillows, memory foam or springs? Feather or synthetic?
There are no right or wrong answers here, it is entirely down to personal preference and not something you can ascertain from looking online.
You need to trial these options to see what works for you. Get down to your local bed retailer and see what they have to offer!
Finally we should have a look at your sleeping position.
Sleep on your side?
If you sleep on your side and experience neck pain try the softer pillow on top option as we mentioned above, it is likely that you are causing alignment issues which will result in pain.
If however you experience hip or lower back pain try placing a pillow between your legs or a very thin pillow under your waist for additional support.
Should you experience shoulder pain then you should sleep on your good side and try supporting your other shoulder with a pillow placed in front of you and lay your arm over it. This will reduce strain on your raised shoulder.
Sleep on your back?
If suffering from neck pain pay close attention to the height of your pillows, you want to avoid your head from arching forwards at all costs.
Hip and lower back pain can be alleviated by positioning a pillow under your knees or rolling a towel to to support your lower back, not too high mind or you’ll cause yourself further issue.
Sleep on your front?
If you suffer from neck, back and hip pain we advise against sleeping on your front as it is likely to exacerbate the issue, getting used to sleeping in a different position could save you from years of persistent pain.
If however you find these best practices are not fully reducing your pain then you should really come in and see us.
Don’t hesitate to pose any questions our way and in the meantime, try to get some sleep!
Until next time,
All the best,