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Pop quiz: How much of your life do you spend sleeping? No, don’t raise your hand and say 8 hours; we said per lifetime, not per day. The answer is: one-third. While research has determined that your body functions best with this sleep to awake ratio, for many of us, the reality might be very different. Life's ups and downs can oftentimes leave us restless and spending our time tossing and turning rather than getting high-quality sleep. Clearly, the way you settle down for the night makes a significant impact on your sleep and ultimately, we all want to sleep better.

If we want to perform our best and feel our best, we need to sleep, and not only do we need to sleep but we need to sleep well. To keep your daytime hours productive and pain-free, you need to put some effort into correcting those nighttime troubles. It’s time to stop counting all those stupid sheep and finally fix the way you sleep.

 

Your 5 Tip Guide to Better Sleep

As nighttime falls, make sure you’ve set yourself up for restful sleep. Here are several tips for how to get the best sleep possible.

1. Optimize Your Preferred Sleeping Position

Back Sleeper
Pros
There’s less chance of experiencing acid reflux or heartburn with your body in this position. You also won’t experience numb arms or fingers from rolling over and cutting off circulation – three cheers for that!

Cons
You’re more likely to snore (Think your partner loves you dearly? Just ask them that after you’ve spent the night snoring), and any sleep apnea you have could intensify. Sleeping on your back is also the best position for your neck. It keeps your neck in a neutral position. Using a pillow with curvature will help support the natural alignment of your neck.

To sleep better, place a pillow under your knees to help your spine realign. Try experimenting with a soft pillow at first, and see if you need to switch it out for something a little firmer. Also, ensure the pillow under your head is neither too soft nor too firm – make it just right, like Baby Bear’s bed.

Side Sleeper
Pros
Side sleeping helps keep the spine aligned in a more natural, neutral position, and it can help enhance circulation, digestion and even brain health. Pretty impressive! Maybe that’s how all the smart kids sleep?

Cons
It might leave you feeling a bit stiff if you curl up too much in a fetal position. This position could also lead to sore hips and shoulders.

To optimize sleep, try not to settle into tightly compressed fetal positions. Train your body to loosen up, just a little, to help prevent stiff joints the next morning. You can also place a soft pillow between your knees to offset all that weight bearing down on your hips. This will help keep your spine aligned since your upper leg won’t overextend and shift your spine while you sleep. For neck support, you’ll need an extra firm or firm pillow. If you have broad shioulders, make sure that your pillow is thick enough that it keeps your neck in a neutral position. If the pillow is too think, it will cause your neck to bend to the side and may lead to neck soreness.

Stomach Sleeper
Pros
This position can reduce incidences of snoring. That’s about it.

Cons
Stomach sleeping isn’t the best of positions. You’re more likely to wake up with a sore neck or back, and you could experience muscle and joint pressure as well. You might even wake up with numbness from cut-off circulation. In addition, this position often leads to restless nights with tossing and turning.

To sleep well as a stomach sleeper, make sure your pillow is soft and malleable. You can also try to position your head facing the mattress rather than to the side, but make sure you have unrestricted breathing and proper support under your forehead. If possible, try to transition away from sleeping on your stomach so you can keep your spine aligned and pain-free.

For All Sleepers
Regardless of your sleeping position, try to sleep on a different side of the bed for a few weeks to help stop conditioned habits from taking hold. This will be more difficult if you sleep with a partner (with plenty of kicks and angry “get off my side” outbursts), but you can still move away from your usual sleeping spot by putting pillows or rolled towels around your body for support.

2. Try These Positions To Help You Sleep When You Have Pain Issues

Disclaimer: Vimocity does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you experience any pain with any movements immediately stop and consult a qualified healthcare provider.

What happens if you already have issues, such as back pain or sciatica? You need a sleeping position that will help you get the most sleep while your body begins to heal itself. Ultimately, you should talk with your Doctor, Chiropractor, or Physical Therapist about the safest position for you to sleep. Here are a few suggested sleeping positions, broken down by where on the body you're hurting. You could discuss these options with your Medical provider to determine what is best for you.

Back Pain: Sleep on Your Side
Side sleeping is the best way to keep your spine in a neutral position, but it likely isn’t enough when you’re experiencing general back pain. Use pillows for support – one between your knees and one as a hugging pillow to keep your shoulders from rolling inward.

Lower Back Pain: Sleep on Your Side
Just like general back pain, lower back pain requires support to keep your spine and hips aligned – a pillow between your knees can help immensely. If you still feel the pain, add more support around your hips and shoulders and remember to avoid any sudden shifts. Although in general side sleepers should avoid the fetal position, those with lower back pain can benefit from the way it stretches out the discs in the spine.

Hip Pain: Sleep on Your Back or Unaffected Side
If you’re experiencing hip pain, you should first try to sleep on your back with your legs slightly spread; this will help relieve some of the strain. Alternately, you can sleep on your uninjured side with a supportive pillow between the knees.

Shoulder Pain: Sleep on Your Back
Back sleeping is the only position that will let your shoulders off the hook at night. While lying on your back, place a pillow on your chest and curl your arms across it for support. Don’t try to clasp hands because this tension can increase pressure on your shoulder joints.

Sciatica: Sleep on Your Back or Side
Sciatica pain can affect any part of your leg, although typically just one side at a time. The goods news is that you have two sleeping options: either the unaffected side or your back, whichever is easier. If you’re sleeping on your back, put pillow supports behind your knees, and consider adding pillows or fluffy towels under your hips too. If you prefer sleeping on your side, extend your upper knee and leg so you’re making an “h” shape; then put a pillow or two under that knee.

3. If You Wake Up in Pain – Tips for Recovering

Even with corrections, you might on occasion wake up in pain. As soon as you get out of bed, reach for a massage roller or a massage cane to help you work out any knots or muscle soreness. Go slowly and ease yourself through soft tissue massage so you improve pain levels without overextending.

Combine soft tissue work with basic daily body care activities like hip openers, standing marches, superman's or archers to feel relief.

Additional Ways to Sleep Better:

4. Consider Your Bedding Selection

Apart from proper pillows, make sure your bedding is fresh, in good condition and appropriate for your body’s needs. The quality and thickness of your sheets can affect how well you sleep, influencing your body's ability to recharge overnight. If you sleep hot, you’ll want sheets that breathe easily – like percale-weave sheets. If you feel cold when you sleep, you’ll feel more comfortable with thicker sateen-weave sheets (not to be confused with satin, a type of fabric).

You should also consider the ambient room temperature. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the best sleeping temperature is anywhere from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep your bedroom’s temperature optimized for your unique needs, and make sure you can add or remove layers to account for core body temperature changes.

There’s something almost magical about the way clean sheets can put you at ease; then again, maybe it’s just that they’re soft and stink-free. Like you, your sheets need bathing – and no, not once a month. Give your sheets some consideration! Once you’re nestled under new or freshly laundered sheets, you might just be asleep before you can count to ten.

5. Create a New Bedtime Ritual

Some people might be thinking, “Nope, this isn’t working for me. I still need to fix how I sleep!” If that’s you, your best approach would be to create a new bedtime ritual that you combine with adjustments to your sleeping position and bedding. What this means is that, each evening, you’ll follow a preset group of activities that let you shake off the day and prepare for sleep.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider when creating your own customized bedtime plan.

  • Don’t drink coffee, green tea or other caffeinated beverages within six hours of going to sleep.
  • Don’t use electronic devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs) within one to two hours of bedtime. These devices emit blue light that prevents your body from producing adequate melatonin – the sleepy-time hormone.
  • Do use essential oils like lavender, jasmine, rose and chamomile to help you relax. Create an association between the oil and sleep, such as adding a few drops to the bathwater or using a diffuser. You could also spray mist on yourself. Do a little dance if you want, and shake what Nature gave you!
  • Do engage in restful activities, such as meditating (use an app like Headspace, Calm or Omvana), reading a book (consider skipping the e-books and support your local library), or listen to gentle music and nature sounds. You could also set up a white noise machine.
  • Do use blackout curtains to create a darker room environment. If you have LED lights in your room, cover them or unplug whenever possible.

Disrupted or uncomfortable sleep can leave you feeling stiff, sore and unable to be at your best. Go from “Fix my sleep!” to “What a beautiful morning!” when you give your body the proper nighttime support it needs.

What have you done that has helped you sleep better?

Share your favorite sleep tips with us in the comment section below👇 (keep scrolling)

 

Disclaimer: Vimocity does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you experience any pain with any movements immediately stop and consult a qualified healthcare provider.

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One Comment

  • I stop watching tv by 8 pm and switch to reading. I also often take a melatonin supplement, drink chamomile tea, and on cold nights, take a hot water bottle to bed with me. Thanks for the article!

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