What if I told you that the amount of sleep you get isn’t the biggest factor to your health? It’s not your mattress, either. We spend around a third of our lives sleeping. If you lived to be 80, that would be roughly 27 years. You can spend those 27 years negatively impacting your health, or making a positive impact by following a simple practice: good sleep posture.
Never heard of sleep posture? The National Sleep Foundation noted that the position in which you sleep can affect not only your quality of sleep but your overall health. Bad practices lead to ailments such as fatigue, back and neck pain, muscle cramps, and more.
The back is the most important part of good posture. There are tons of articles for proper standing and sitting postures to relieve back pain. For sleep, it’s all focused on maintaining the natural curve in your lower back to assist with a neutral spine position.
Sleep health can impact your overall health so much, the Chiropractor’s Association of Australia joined with researchers to produce a guide. “Better Sleep Health and Wellbeing” outlines key sleep positions and how they affect the human body.
Sleeping on your back creates the most beneficial position for overall health. This meditative position evenly distributes weight and pressure across the muscles and joints. In turn, giving your head, neck, and spine a neutral resting position. Relieving this pressure also allows internal organs to align and relax. Any discomfort found when laying on your back could be relieved by simply placing a pillow under your knees. This dramatises the natural curve in the spine, releasing tension from pinched or swollen bones, nerves, or tendons.
It may not surprise you that side-sleeping is a favourite position. Don’t worry; we won’t take that away from you if it’s your personal favourite. However, there are some simple ergonomic adjustments that can make a huge impact on your health. Bend the knees slightly and place a pillow between them. This should provide a hips-width distance between your legs, which in turn reduces pressure and corrects alignment.
A no-go position is stomach sleeping, and yes, these sleepers do exist. Stomach sleeping distorts natural alignment and places unnecessary pressure on the neck from twisting the head to the side. According to medical research, there is nothing that can be done to relieve the strain this posture places on the body.
While sleepless nights can lead to tossing and turning, this should be done with awareness. While you probably aren’t thinking of your abs late at night, engaging your core during twisting movements will align the body and protect your spine during these movements.
Our last tip is to stretch upon waking. After stretching, indulge in a light exercise program to help blood flow return to normal. Straighten Up has a program that is designed with spinal health in mind. This program targets abs and overall health. Because the body is still for an extended period during sleep, your muscles and joints benefit from gentle movements before starting your day.
Of course part of the problem with anyone reading this article is that your body has become accustomed to sleeping in a certain way over 20, 30 or even 40 years. This is not a habit that will be easy to break, which is why our team of chiropractors at the Melville Wellness Centre have developed a number of innovative strategies to assist our patients with this often overlooked issue. Don’t continue to suffer in silence, the problem is unlikely to rectify itself, call us today on (08) 9314 2777, and and wake up every morning with a back that is suitably rested, refreshed and ready to face whatever the day throws at you.