Sleep care is the new self-care -- and restful sleep is a restorative sleep. Proper sleep is the foundation of our wellbeing. Sleep Awareness Week was launched by the National Sleep Foundation to bring awareness to promote better sleep as a way to increase overall health and well-being.
At SpineAlign, we actually think that every day should be Sleep Awareness Day! Living a healthy lifestyle does not end at the gym or with what you eat. The quality of your sleep plays a major role in your recovery from physical activity, as well as your body’s ability to perform. It’s crucial to understand what works and what doesn’t. Adding sleep to the list of self-care and wellness is a top trend for 2021 as we seek to take better care of ourselves.
Dr. Jason Loth, the co-founder of SpineAlign, tells patients that poor quality and quantity of sleep can be very detrimental to one’s health. Quantity meaning the amount of time that we actually sleep is very important because if we don't have enough time in the sleeping state, our minds and bodies can't fully recover and regenerate.
GET (APPROXIMATELY) 6 to 8 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT
Most sleep experts recommend that we get at least six to eight hours of sleep per night. Dr. Loth personally believes that the exact amount is different with every individual and understands the importance of the quality of sleep over the exact quantity. Quality of sleep focuses on how well we sleep while we are asleep. When they talk about deep sleep, what we mean is how well we cycle through all four stages of our sleep cycle along with REM sleep. There are different things that happen within each of these stages of sleep that help our bodies and minds fully recover and heal.
Poor sleep in either of these mechanisms can lead to many problems with your health and productivity throughout the day. Poor sleep can lead to decreased immune function, slower metabolism and hormone imbalances. It will also have an effect on how well our body is able to heal from illness, injuries and disease.
THINGS TO AVOID
There are many ways that people can improve their sleep and feel revitalized when they wake up. Recommendations include limiting caffeine intake, eliminating electronics at least one hour before going to sleep, sleeping in a completely dark room, and not drinking anything at least three hours before going to bed.
PROPER SLEEP POSTURE & POSITION
According to Dr. Loth, the most important areas to address are your sleep posture or position, optimal support from your pillow and mattress, and a comfortable body temperature. When a person doesn’t sleep with correct posture or support, they put a tremendous amount of stress on muscles and joints. This leads to muscle tightness and joint dysfunction which could further lead to discomfort or pain. Our body’s reaction to this is to avoid it, and as a result we move out of the position that causes the pain or discomfort. Hence the phrase “I toss and turn all night long.” This slight waking can again disrupt our sleep which doesn’t allow us to cycle through all five stages of sleep effectively, and ultimately inhibits us from getting optimal restoration from our sleep.
SLEEP AT A COMFORTABLE TEMPERATURE
To avoid these issues, make sure you have the temperature of your sleep environment set to a comfortable setting. Not too warm or too cold. You should be cool but comfortable. Some experts say that 68-degrees is good while others say that 60-degrees is optimal. Ideally, a person shouldn’t wake up or move at night because you are too hot or cold.
GET A GOOD QUALITY MATTRESS
It is essential that you have a good quality mattress. One that isn’t too old, that is made with high quality materials, supports you correctly, and is made with materials that help regulate body temperature. Every mattress is different, but it is recommended that you should replace your mattress within 7-10 years as long as it is a good quality mattress. Rotating your mattress every 60 days can also add life to your mattress. As for firmness, Dr. Loth usually recommends a Medium to firm mattress depending on the person.
A PROPER PILLOW IS ESSENTIAL
A good pillow that allows you to sleep in correct posture with optimal support, is fully customizable, and can be adjusted to fit you correctly in both the back and side sleeping positions, is essential to restorative sleep. Sleeping on your back is usually the best position, but if you are a side sleeper, it is also recommended to use a body pillow to wrap your arms around and to keep your knees separated which will help keep you in correct posture and good spinal alignment as well.
Sleep Awareness Week is March 14-20, 2021, but truly it should be every night. When we sleep well, we are able to perform at our optimal ability. Many sleep issues can be resolved with a few key steps and the desire to make the changes needed.
Until our next blog post, sleep well!