Welcome to our 3rd and final instalment into “What is sleep?”
In this article we are going to look at ways to get better sleep and the best position to sleep in. Previously we have discussed what sleep actually is, why it is important to sleep, the amount of sleep needed and dysfunctions that can occur if you don’t get enough sleep.
Ways to get better sleep
You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep. With enough sleep each night you may find that you’re happier and more productive during the day.
Sleep is often the first thing busy people squeeze out of their schedules. Making time to sleep will help you protect your health and well being now and in the future.
To improve your sleep habits, it also may help to:
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment
Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm
Use the hours before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it is time to be awake. This is where our Dynamic Therapy can actually aid in how you sleep. Lying in bed for 30mins before going to sleep with your strap on not only helps your hips and pelvis, but forces you to have this quiet time before sleeping! It is best then to read while lying there instead of watching TV.
Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime
Avoid nicotine and caffeine. Both are stimulants and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So that cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
Spend time outside every day and be physically active
Keep your bedroom quiet, cool and dark (a dim night light is fine if needed, wear ear plugs if you have noisy neighbors)
Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.
Seek professional assistance for sleep disorders such as snoring
Best position to sleep in
The position you sleep in is one of the hardest things to do correctly or change once they are your habits. Everyone is different and everyone will sleep better in a certain position.
So the take home message for the actual position is to NOT BE ON YOUR STOMACH!
Sleeping on your back with a pillow that supports your neck and in a good quality supportive bed is great, you can add a small pillow under your knees if it is more comfortable for you.
Sleeping on your side, again in a good quality supportive mattress is also great if it is most comfortable for you. If you do sleep on your side there are ways that can help improve this position.
Firstly you need a pillow that will support your neck. The gap from your shoulder to your head needs to be supported while on your side, so normally a taller pillow is required versus a pillow used when sleeping on your back.
You can find out more about pillow choice for your sleeping position in our previous article;https://spinalsymmetry.wordpress.com/2015/09/
While you are on your side you may also place a pillow in between your knees to stop your top leg rolling over too much creating a large twist to your pelvis. You can also use a pillow, or your partner, to stop your top arm curling into your body. If your top arm curls greatly into your body it can roll your shoulder forward which will place a lot of pressure on your shoulder girdle and ribs.
Now if you are in the habit of sleeping on your stomach there are things you can try and do to slowly change this. Firstly the use of Dynamic Therapy (DT) every night will help your body familiarize with lying on your back in bed. Then once the DT strap comes off, it is useful to have aids in your bed to stop you from sleeping on your stomach. These can be pillows to stop you rolling. Of course, once you are asleep you can easily push these away and end up on your stomach but the more you stop yourself getting there the better your body will be.
Sleeping on your stomach is not an ideal position for a few structural reasons. One is that you need to turn your head to breathe. This places a great amount of pressure on your neck and upper back.
Lying on your stomach also causes you to have your legs at strange angles, which affects your hip angles. This pressure on your hip angles can be a contributing factor as to why your pelvis becomes rotated and as we have discussed in most of our previous articles, this has a follow on effect on your whole body.
You can read more about this here:https://spinalsymmetry.wordpress.com/?s=dynamic+therapy+
There has been a lot of information in this 3 part series on sleep. This is because sleep is so important to our bodies!
If you have any questions about anything we have discussed in these articles please contact one of our practitioners at Spinal Symmetry. Start right away by putting into place the tips and ideas discussed here to try and get a better night sleep and you will notice a difference straight away!