Now that we have all began to feel the effects of day light savings time, your team at West Chiropractic and Wellness thought it would be a great time to talk about was to increase our sleep quality before we gain more daylight. As we all know, sleep is a very vital period in our daily recovery process. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that adults age 18 and up to get 7-8 hours of sleep per day. When we don’t get the recommended time that places us in a “sleep debt.” High quality sleep is vital to not just physical recovery but also our mental recovery. IN a study highlighted in the book Why We Sleep showed that insufficient sleep costs between $2000-$3500 per employee in lost productivity. Most of the sleep science we know today is relatively new regarding its developmental importance and how our new modern world has affected our quality of sleep. In this post we will discuss a few things that can help you increase your sleep quality in order to aid in your treatment plan.
Our providers often get questions about sleep positioning; which is the best? What helps decrease pain? etc. We all have our favorites and typically know what is comfortable to us. Sometimes we can find a comfortable position and wake up with pain or discomfort due to holding an awkward sustained pose for 6-8 hours. No specific sleep position is inherently bad overall just some may just be adding and excessive held motion to a painful or irritated area in the neck low back, an extremity. One position that is typically deemed “bad” is the stomach sleep position. This can become bothersome due to the excessive amount of extension (backwards bending) that it causes in the lumbosacral spine. If this is your go to position One way to ease this is place a pillow under the stomach in order to reduce the extension and place a bit of flexion into the area to place to low back in a more neutral position.
If you prefer side sleeping, there are two points in the spine to increase support. The neck can bend excessively to the side and drape too far over a flat pillow. So, making sure there is some support at the base of the neck will help that transitional area from base of neck to mid back. The low back and legs can also have some compression as well so supporting the area with a smaller pillow between the knees can help aid excessive rolling forward of the low back and hips.
Lastly sleeping face up can often irritate the low back due to increased space between the low back and bed causing a small gap. Best way to alter this is placing a smaller pillow to fill that potential space and decrease any jamming in the lumbar spine.
Also, a large body pillow can help add support if you prefer multiple positions and move through the night. The pillow size can help aid in any of the above situations. Overall, it is very tough to switch sleep positions so there is some amount of trial and error involved to see what is going to work best for you. Also remember no sleep position is “bad” you just need to find what is going to work best for your body and how to reposition if needed.
Setting Optimal Sleep Environment
With technology being so intertwined in our everyday life it can be very hard to unplug from our devices especially when time for bed. Setting up our sleep space is often an overlooked step when trying to increase or quality of sleep. One thing that affects us is our smartphones and tablets. Most smart phone screens use LED lights for brightness. This short-wavelength light is within the blue spectrum which communicates daytime to a portion of your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It is shown that the blue light exposure 2 hours before bedtime can reduce the sleep hormone melatonin by 23-50 percent. So that last scroll through Instagram while in bed can have more consequences than we thought. Another issue that can follow us when trying to go to sleep is the weight of the days stress. Stress can induce some anxiety which can cause us to have a tough time entering into the deeper stages of sleep. A good way to ease this down is take a mindfulness minute to practice some deep belly breathing or meditation in order to just slow our heart rate down and give the mental or physical overexertion a rest. There are several good apps that help with guided breathing for sleep on platforms like Headspace and Calm. There are other helpful resources on our music apps as well, a lot at hand to give a try. One last thing that can help set up a room for a good quality sleep is the temperature. A study showed that the ideal sleep temperature for a room is 65F. To successfully initiate sleep we need to reduce our core body temp by 2-3 degrees F. This temperature drop is detected by cells in the brain that signal the above-mentioned suprachiasmatic nucleus to cause I surge in melatonin. This gives some scientific connection to the late Stewart Scotts famous saying, “Cool like the other side of the pillow.” Try out a few of these small changes to see if one or a combination can help lead to increasing sleep quality.
Try a few of these tips to help improve sleep quality and comfort. Always remember to reach out if any symptoms persist and schedule in with one of our providers.
*The above content is intended to be for informative and educational purposes only. No information is made to diagnose or treat a specific health condition or medical issue. See a health care professional if you have questions about your health care needs.*
Sleep deprivation and deficiency. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2021, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
Walker, M. P. (2018). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. New York, NY: Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.