American Sleep Association

How to improve quality of your sleep for effective rest

Getting a good night’s sleep is probably one of the most important things you can do for your health, as your body repairs and helps restore itself during those precious six to eight hours each night.

Many people, especially in urban areas, struggle with sleep and feeling well-rested. A lack of sleep has been linked to several chronic conditions affecting the cardiovascular, nervous and immune systems as well as disrupting the body’s metabolic functions.

And if you have ever been around a sleep-deprived person before, you know that moodiness and irritability are two of the most noticeable side effects.

Before you run to the pharmacy in search of dangerous and addictive sleeping pills or potions, you may want to take a good look at your sleep hygiene.

The American Sleep Association defines ‘sleep hygiene’ as behaviours that one can do to help promote good sleep. Most people understand that limiting naps and stimulants are part of the behaviours recommended for a good night’s sleep.

The effects of how one sleeps should be examined. This can be the reason for not feeling well-rested and energised. How you sleep is very much part of sleep hygiene.

The majority of the working population today complain of neck and back pain. It has been found that many people are not able to sleep well because they lack proper sleep hygiene.

Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this can cause hyperextension of your back and neck which will later translate to pain.

If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to help keep your hips level. If you sleep on your back, a pillow underneath your knees can help remove pressure from your lower back and help your back lie flat on the mattress.

Collapsed pillows provide little or no neck support. If pillows are doubled up, this can raise your head too high and in turn affect your neck and back and you will wake up feeling stiff and sore.

When you lay on your side, your nose should be parallel to the ground and in neutral alignment without angled upward or downward. An orthopaedic pillow should be sought for this.

The way you wake up in the morning can be as important as the way you sleep. Sitting up too quickly and hopping out of bed can cause strain on your entire body including your lower back. Stretch (without pulling on your joints) and roll yourself to a sitting position.

Be sure to use a firm mattress that will help you maintain proper back support. Make sure you invest in a quality mattress and replace it every few years if it is a high-density mattress.

Also be sure that the mattress suits your needs. Do you have a partner or pets that share the bed? Do you need more or less support? Is the mattress only comfortable for one of you, and leaves the other tossing and turning? Be sure to invest in a suitable mattress for your situation.

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