When was the last time you got a great night of sleep? When you achieve a quality rest you wake up feeling energetic, rejuvenated and healthy. Your mood, health and even healing are all impacted by your ability to get a good night’s rest.
If you are ready to take your sleep seriously, you are like many baby boomers who are re-evaluating their entire sleep system to optimize their rest and relaxation. Getting that quality rest isn’t about what your body will or will not do but rather about taking the initiative to design the perfect sleep system comprised of comfortable bedding tailored to the way you sleep.
When you consider that you spend more than 1/3 of your life in bed it is worth educating yourself on the proper position and supports needed to help you eliminate or avoid neck and back pain.
Protecting Your Back and Neck
Throughout the day our spine and lumbar are subjected to the stress of gravity, lifting and bending. We expect at the end of the day to rest and wake up feeling our best. While some back pain can be caused by injury or repetitive lifting, many people are shocked to discover that most minor back aches and pains actually begin in bed.
Making the connection between your bedding and your quality of rest can take some time but it is an important first step to eliminating unnecessary discomfort. The type of mattress you choose is important and if you can’t remember how old your current mattress is then it is definitely time for an upgrade. While most commercial mattresses claim to have a twenty five year warranty, the reality is that a mattress has a useful life of about ten years.
If you have placed a sheet of wood under your mattress to support your back, consider it as an ineffective way to increase the lumbar support of your mattress. There is simply too much soft material in between the board and your body to make much of a difference. Your best bet is to shop for a good quality orthopedic mattress that offers the right amount of support for your body weight.
The Importance of Alignment
According to the article “Proper Sleeping Positions for the Neck” from LiveStrong.com the optimal sleeping position is on your back with appropriate neck and lumbar supports. The article recommends the use of a lumbar roll under the lower back to help keep the spine and neck in alignment. Another method is to elevate the legs to put the body into a near “zero gravity” sleeping position.
In terms of the best pillow for a back sleeper, the article recommends a softer yielding pillow such as a feather or memory foam pillow that will conform to the natural shape and cradle the head while providing neck support.
Side sleepers need a different type of pillow and alignment in order to get a good night of sleep. Side sleepers should try to avoid resting their head on their arm as that can contribute to neck strain as well as numbness and discomfort in the arm and hand. A pillow that elevates the neck slightly higher than the head is advisable for side sleepers, as well as a second pillow placed between the knees to avoid pressure on the hips and lower back.
Other Helpful Tips
- Stretch before you go to bed and when you wake up. This can help prevent back and neck injury or discomfort.
- Invest in quality pillows with the right amount of support for your preferred sleep position
- If you are a stomach sleeper consider an attempt to retrain yourself to a different and less straining sleeping position.
- Try to test a mattress before buying or get a 30-day trial guarantee with your new mattress purchase to make sure you are entirely happy with your choice before you keep it.
Back and neck pain are not an inherent result of simply “getting older” but rather the expression of a need for better lumbar and spine support for your body. When you consider how many health variables can be impacted by sleep deprivation it is worth spending some time to architect the perfect sleep system for your home. The result is not only a full night of uninterrupted sleep but also a morning of waking up comfortably without chronic pain.