I am asked many times “what can I do to get a better night’s sleep”? There are many factors that influence our sleep habits and ability to fall asleep. Back and neck pain are adversely affected by poor sleep.
Some issues are well known, but others are less evident. Problems with obtaining satisfying and restful sleep are by our own making. We have to set sleep as a priority and have a good environment in which to sleep.
Stimulants Stunt Sleep
It is well known that caffeine keeps you from restful sleep. Smoking is another factor that interferes with the sleep process. How does smoking affect sleep? The nicotine from smoking speeds up your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and stimulates the brain. The effect of the nicotine is short acting and it has a half-life of about 60 minutes. The urge or withdrawal will have the tendency to wake you.
Another stimulant turned depressant that significantly alters your sleep state is alcohol. At the start, it may have an effect to promote sleep, but what happens next is that it disrupts REM / Dream Sleep. Your sleep becomes fragmented and the normal sleep cycles are not completed.
Sleep Surface Is Important To Prevent Back and Neck Pain
Your sleep surface is very important, not only for a good night’s sleep, but for spinal hygiene to help prevent neck, upper and lower back pain. If the spine is not supported properly, it causes “pressure points” and areas that are compressed. This reduces the blood circulation to the area and contributes to the painful “pressure points” that support your body weight. Ideally, your mattress should be of medium firm support. All mattresses have strong points, but some surfaces such as sleeping on air allow you to modulate the support of your spine. It’s important that you keep your “spine in line”.
Proper Pillows Help Prevent Neck Pain
The use of a proper pillow is important to keep good spinal alignment. Have your mate observe you while sleeping on your side and your back. In both instances, your neck should be in the neutral position. In other words it should not be flexed forward if you are sleeping on your back. When on your side, the space between the neck and shoulder should be filled and the neck kept in the neutral or straight position. Good sleeping posture allows your muscles to relax at night, which helps with back pain or neck pain issues. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor. Sleeping on a good supportive sleep set is an investment in good health.
The Successful Sleep Formula
Are there rules for sleep? YES, to maximize your benefits from sleep. Our current society as a whole is sleeping about an hour and a half less than we did 100 years ago. It is understood that there are many more distractions in today’s society compared to the last century. Still, that should not be used as an excuse to avoid what is a natural process for our bodies to go through. What makes us think that our bodies are that much different today than they were then? Currently the daily stressors today (interruptions, work and social requirements and duties beyond what could be comprehended 100 years ago) do play a factor.
Rules For Sleep
Let’s review a few things we can do to minimize the impact of today’s society on our necessary sleep requirements.
There are basic tenants that need to be followed for sleeping and obtaining the best results from that event.
Limit Caffeine Intake – Caffeine has the tendency to elevate blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugars. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours! That simply means that if you have a cup of coffee or other caffeine product at your evening meal, it would be midnight before that caffeine has cleared your system. It would be best to discontinue caffeinated drinks by early afternoon.
Prelude To Sleep – Discontinue computer and television before going to sleep at least 30-60 minutes before lying down. The blue light from these devices slows the natural melatonin that is produced in your system. Your body starts producing melatonin when the blue light in the sky is gone! Do not exercise before bedtime. Complete all exercises at least 2 hours before going to bed so your body cools down and the stimulation of exercise has passed. Put your next day “to do” list together so you don’t have to think about it while lying down to sleep. The normal time frame for you to fall asleep is around 10 minutes, give or take a few minutes. A hot bath does help as it cools the body and helps prepare you for sleep. When you get out of the bath tub and dry off, the cooling sensation begins!
Sleep Environment – Wear loose fitting clothing to sleep. Room temperature should be near 65 degrees and the humidity near 65%. There has been some success in using a “sound machine” such as ocean waves or a small brook, and even a running fan can be helpful. This ambient noise helps to deflect any sudden noise that may wake you in a totally quiet environment.
Remember : Make Sleep a Priority. The results can be satisfying to your quality of life and help in controlling your headaches, neck and back pain.
The doctors at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office have experience in offering advice and recommendations to help improve your sleep habits.