Sleep Postures and Techniques to a Better Nights Rest
I hear all too often “Doc, I swear if I could just sleep better I would feel better!” Then as I dive into why they feel like they aren’t sleeping well I come across the same answers. Today we are going to dive into the world of sleep, the positions we should try, and the activities we should limit when trying to get that perfect night’s rest.
Positions not to sleep in:
- On the stomach or face down: This is a chiropractor’s worst nightmare. Not only does lying on the stomach put an overextension on the lumbar spine, but when have you ever seen a bed where you can lay face down unless it’s a massage table. Two better positions while sleeping for the spine our face up, or side lying. These positions typically allow for a more neutral spine without extensive rotation.
- Single Pillow for the neck: Now I have heard everything for what people will try with their pillows. Some try no pillow, some try two or more, and then some more even try thick or thin. Regarding pillows I have a few simple rules. Rule 1: Use one pillow and one pillow only. Find the one you like the most and stick with that. Rule 2: Don’t support just the head: Many times, people try to just support the head. This can cause flexion of the neck which may cause pain. Try to support the tops of the shoulders and head. This will allow for the head to sit in a natural neutral state of slight extension.
Tips for falling asleep:
- Turn off the TV and Devices: This one is key. What many people do not know, is that those lights play a trick on the brain. Rather than stimulating the sleep receptors of the brain, it blocks them. This causes our brains to stay away from those REM wave cycles we need for a good night rest. By limiting the use of these devices to 1 hour or more before sleep, the chances of making it to REM more than triple.
- Late night eating and drinking: By trying to eat a small meal close to bed this can actually aid in falling asleep. Most rumors is that eating to close to bed will keep you awake, however the neurology begs to differ. The body has a parasympathetic nervous system which is also known as our “Rest and Digest” nervous system. So by triggering the digestive process we can also help trigger the rest phase. Think about all those big naps after thanksgiving! Now this doesn’t mean to load up on a stimulant such as sugar, but a nice protein such as boiled eggs will be great.
- Use a pillow under the knees or between them: By putting the spine in a more neutral position we take stress off it. When on your back try a pillow under the knees which takes tilt out of the pelvis. When on your side between the knees keeps you from folding the pelvis over as well.
Remember sleeping is not supposed to be difficult, so stop making it for yourself. Simple changes can make all the difference for a good night’s sleep!