The body uses the time you spend sleeping to perform several important tasks including the removal of waste, muscle and tissue repair, and the processing of information recently acquired by the brain. The quality of your sleep determines how efficiently it can complete these processes.
How well you sleep also affects the health of the musculoskeletal system. If you sleep in an awkward position or you are laying on an uncomfortable mattress, it can cause a sore back..
In this post, our Ealing Chiropractor explains why sleep is so important for spine health before sharing some tips for sleeping in a way that improves spinal health.
Why Does Sleep Matter? Our Ealing Chiropractor Explains
The two main reasons why sleep is important for back health are:
- Sleep can affect the alignment of your spine
We spend a lot of time in bed. If you are sleeping with an unnatural spinal position, it can cause strain on spinal joints. Eventually, it can impact how well your spine is aligned. In fact, it’s not uncommon for patients visiting our chiropractic clinic in Ealing to have poorly aligned spines caused by years of poor sleeping habits.
- Poor sleep habits can cause muscle strains
The muscles in the back are impacted greatly by the quality of your sleep. That’s because they are stressed when your spine is in an abnormal position.
How To Sleep In A Way That Promotes Spine Health
Sleep in the right position
The way you position your body while sleeping has a significant impact on your spinal health. The three positions that people commonly use are:
Stomach sleeping is considered the worst sleeping posture because of the additional pressure it places on the neck and lower back. More strain is placed on the spine because most of your weight will be on the centre of the body, making it difficult to maintain a neutral spine position. Sleeping on your stomach also forces you to twist your neck which can cause even more stress on the body.
Side sleeping is a healthier alternative to stomach sleeping. However, it can still be problematic if you don’t have the right type of pillow or body position. The key to healthy side sleeping is to find ways to maintain a neutral spine position. The easiest way to achieve this is by using pillows and the right kind of mattress. Try the following tips if you are a side sleeper:
- Use a large firm pillow which keeps your head in alignment with your spine
- Place a small pillow between your knees to take pressure off your lower back
- Use a soft-to-medium firmness mattress, as it will provide better pressure point relief for side sleeping
Side sleepers should also make a habit of swapping sides regularly. That’s because sleeping on the same side for a long period may lead to muscle imbalance and back pain.
Sleeping on your back is considered the optimal sleeping position, as it is the easiest way to achieve a neutral spine position. It distributes the weight of your body across a larger surface area including both shoulders and both hips. If you are a back sleeper, opt for a slim pillow and medium-to-firm mattress, as they let you maintain the spine’s natural curves more easily.
Some people will switch between different positions several times during the night. If this is the case with you, consider purchasing multiple pillows or an angled pillow. This allows you to change pillow position as you move between back sleeping and side sleeping.
Use a high-quality mattress
A low quality or worn-out mattress can wreak havoc with your back. That’s because mattresses that don’t adequately support your body will cause poor sleeping posture and make it impossible to maintain neutral spinal alignment in bed. Don’t skimp when purchasing a mattress and replace your mattress every 10 years.
Improve how well you sleep
You can also take some steps to improve the overall quality of your sleep. This will help you enjoy a more restful sleep that improves the health of your spine. Some simple steps you can take include:
- Make your bedroom conducive to good sleep
Set up your bedroom so it is a calm, quiet, and relaxing space. Make the room a comfortable temperature and take steps to reduce noise levels from appliances. Remove excessive light pollution from digital clocks or exterior lights. Use comfortable sheets and aromatherapy to further increase the sense of relaxation you experience while resting.
- Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
Exposure to blue light disrupts your circadian rhythm because it tricks the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Electronic devices like smart phones, computers, and tablets are the most common source of blue light in the household, so limit the use of these devices before bed.
- Avoid caffeine late in the day
Stop consuming caffeine 6 to 8 hours before your standard bed time.
- Be consistent about the hours you sleep
It is much easier to enjoy a restful night’s sleep if you go to bed and wake at the same time each day.
- Try meditation and other relaxation techniques
If you find getting to sleep difficult, try using relaxation techniques like meditation, stretching, listening to music, reading, or taking a hot bath.
- Use melatonin supplements
Melatonin is a natural hormone that tells your brain when it is time for sleep. You can take a melatonin supplement to make it easier to get to sleep and enjoy a restful sleep.
If you would like to book an appointment with one of our experienced chiropractors in Ealing contact The Spine & Joint Centre today on 020 8900 9004 or email us via email@example.com.