MANAGING YOUR SLEEP HYGIENE

If you woke up feeling lethargic this morning, you’re not alone. More than one in three Americans report not getting enough sleep, which is defined as at least seven hours a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worse yet, if your sleep is interrupted, it leads to poorer quality sleep. Thirty-five percent of Americans report their sleep quality as “poor” or “only fair,” while 20 percent of Americans said that they did not wake up feeling refreshed on any of the past seven days even though they slept the recommended hours.

Common reasons for lack of and poor quality sleep include: busy schedules, stress, diet or chronic pain. The latter might be one of the reasons you’re visiting a doctor of chiropractic. The good news is that apart from helping treat chronic pain, your chiropractic care may also help improve quality of sleep. In a 2017 study published in SPINE, based on a nationwide survey, 42 percent of chiropractic patients reported improved sleep quality as an additional care benefit, while more than 40 percent said it reduced stress and helped them relax.

Chiropractic care improves the quality of your health, but improving the quality and quantity of sleep requires other steps, as well. These good sleep habits include:

  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid caffeine and big meals before bed and ensure your bedroom is a calm, relaxing environment. That means dimming or shutting off screens an hour before bed and keeping the room dark and cool during sleep. Trying to maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle throughout the week is also a good habit.

  • Use a firm mattress. Spine experts agree that a firm mattress is typically better than soft. A foam mattress is also preferred because innerspring mattresses can create pressure points at the back of your head, shoulder blades, tailbone and heels.

  • Sleep position matters. Sleeping on your back or side with supportive pillows is best for healthy posture and to avoid the back and neck pain that leads to interrupted sleep. The neck should be in a neutral position and supported by a pillow that fills the space between your neck and the mattress. Another pillow under your knees maintains the natural curve of your back.

  • Side sleeping can come with an unwanted twist. Do your best to avoid the twist at the hips and waist while sleeping on your side. Your knees should be slightly bent and a comfortable, small pillow between the knees can help avoid strain or stress in your lower back.

  • Avoid stomach sleeping. This position flattens the natural curve of the spine, which puts pressure on the joints and muscles and causes strain on your neck. If you must sleep on your stomach, place a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen and a thin pillow under your head.

By following these simple tips, along with regular chiropractic care, you’ll be well on your way to deep, restful sleep at night.