Is 1/3 of Your Day Impacting You?
We spend on average a third of our day there... what impact is it having on us overall?
Many of us (looking at you new parents) don't get much of it... or not as much as we'd like! Some of us get lots and feel refreshed come the morning; and then there's those who get lots and still wake up achy and overtired.
Well, the ones with a newborn disturbing their Zzzz's the solution is...? You probably already nodded off before finishing that sentence; so we'll move on to the other problem group, the ones who get a good number of hours of sleep but still wake up tired and achy.
There are some standard tips that I tend to go through with patients regularly:
First of all... how old is your mattress? More than ten years old? Odds are it's done its duty I'm afraid. If you're seeing the rolling hills of the Highlands of Scotland when you look at your mattress... perhaps it's time to trade it out for something that more resembles Saskatchewan.
The next thing is to look at the firmness of a mattress. All research into supporting structure while we sleep points to a firm or at the least medium firm mattress. So if you're sinking into your mattress then in all likelihood it's far too soft. I usually recommend memory foam mattresses, like the Endy mattress for ultimate comfort and support. (Here is a link to save $50 on one as well!)
Contouring the Curves While We Sleep
We want the mattress to contour our curves, especially when side sleeping, this is where memory foam gets the big win in my books.
Pillows, Pillows, pillows
I know... there are a million different shapes, fills and sizes.... and for good reason!
We want the pillow to support our unique shape. You can line up the ten people closest to you and see in all likelihood at least 5 different shapes and sizes; if not all 10! So how would one type of pillow work for all of them?? It won't.
The pillow that will work for you best is the best one suited to your sleeping position and your build.
For a side sleeper you want to support the head in a neutral position, not allowing it to tip towards one shoulder or the other. The width of your shoulders will determine the depth of a pillow needed and the type of fill will be determined by comfort and amount of support needed (i.e.- how big your head is!).
For a back sleeper you ideally want a pillow that maintains good spinal curvature in the neck, a contour type pillow. A pillow that is undersized will not support your neck through the night; and often make for a sore neck come the morning.
An over sized pillow (or pillows!) will force the head into flexion; usually resulting in a sore upper back and a poor sleeping posture.
You should change your pillows at least every couple of years, depending on the fill type. They flatten out and lose their support over time (kinda like the wavy mattress).
Pillows... wait, what? More Pillows?
Some of us will require a little extra support in our sleep. When you're a side sleeper and your hips are wider than your shoulders you'll find it difficult to stay properly aligned up on your hip at times, so a pillow between the knees helps to support the pelvis through the night. Many ladies find this out in the later stages of pregnancy.
On your back a little bit of cushioning can be helpful for many folks that wake with a low back ache. Depending on build, and flexibility the back of the leg (your hamstrings) can be very tight. Laying flat out will then pull at the pelvis causing some discomfort after a nights rest. First solution? Work to improve the hamstrings by proper stretching and functional movement.
I Tried all that and I'm still tired
If you are doing all the above, and you still don't sleep well or wake up in discomfort you need to have some further investigations. One case I recall vividly had done all the above step, had been to a sleep clinic and still had no answers. Upon checking his spine and structure we found a lot of structural shifts; the culprit? In their case we were able to watch improvements on their 'fitbit' sleep tracker as we improved the function of their nervous system and overall structure.