4 sleep lessons to help you sleep better
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
All too often I find myself wishing I could be the one who was snoring away within moments of my head hitting the pillow. I am not as lucky as my wife in that respect. No joke it seems like sometimes she is literally asleep before her head hits the pillow.
One of the things I talk to a lot of my patients about is sleep. Am I doing it right? Should I be waking up in pain. How much sleep should I be getting? Is it better to do it on my back or on my side?
I am going to give you a short list of 4 things to try to help you sleep better.
Sleep is one of those things that if you get enough you forget about it, but if you don’t get enough or it is of poor quality it can have a negative impact on your entire life.
Chiropractors can help you learn to sleep better
I never would have thought that we would learn so much about sleep at chiropractic college but boy did we. I discuss it with almost ever patient that I see. Even if you come to me for foot pain, during the initial visit I am likely going to ask you about it. The position you use, what you are sleeping on, and what hygiene you use.
Lesson 1: Your mattress probably isn’t doing you any favors.
When I am trying to determine the origin of the pain, sometimes all I can get is ”I don’t know Doc, I just woke up with it!” which can lead us to a couple of other questions: What does your pillow look like? Do you love your pillow? How old is your mattress? People are often surprised when I tell them that 8 years is a good length of time to have a mattress. Yup that $3000.00 mattress that you just bought 7 years ago may be on its last leg. Or if it is a headache or a stiff painful neck that’s got you visiting your chiropractor, it may be your pillow that is the culprit. The position that you sleep in will determine what I recommend as your new pillow or new mattress. Side sleepers can benefit from a different type of mattress and pillow than a back sleeper. Or the dreaded stomach sleeper can… well really, lets face it they are just going to be wrecked ;) they can try to learn to sleep in a different position.
Yup, that $3000 Mattress that you just bought 7 years ago might be on its last leg
Lesson 2: Positions in bed (There is only one that is too naughty for me to recommend)
Okay, so we are only going to be talking about sleeping positions in bed for this article. This isn’t a cosmo article. There are basically 3 main categories for sleeping positions. Side sleepers, back sleepers and stomach sleepers. Spoiler alert the naughty sleep position is what I call the “true stomach sleeper”. You know who you are, you sleep with your arms by your side directly on your stomach, with your head cranked over to the side.
Spoiler alert the naughty sleep position is what I call the true stomach sleeper No Chiropractic degree is needed to know that sleeping with your neck cranked to one side (often the same side all night every night) it’s not going to be great for your neck. If you are waking up with headaches and you are a stomach sleeper it kind of serves you right ;) Try using a body pillow and at least getting the pillow to help you sleep in the semi prone position. You remember the position, the one we are taught to use in first aid… the one that stops you from choking on your vomit and dying when you are unconscious. Don’t sleep on your stomach with your head cranked over, it’s not as bad as choking and dying but it’s not doing your neck any favors.
Lesson 3: Don’t you dare start smoking.
Smoking is bad, we all know this but aside from all the usual suspects about smoking like the risks of Cancer and all that. I have learned something else about it that surprised me. Someone once told me that it is as difficult to change the position you sleep in as it is to quit smoking. From my own experience I completely believe them, I had better not start smoking, because I have not been able to change my sleeping posture no matter how hard I’ve tried. I have, however, used better sleep hygiene to help me make the best of my sleep challenges.
Lesson 4: Sleep hygiene, the big hint for this one is turn off your dang phone!
Hygiene might be a loaded term for all the teenagers who have recently had “the deodorant talk”; but sleep hygiene is just as important and not as often talked about. There is one thing that is sabotaging my generations sleep hygiene more than any previous generation and that is the SMART PHONE… Thanks Steve Jobs for giving us all the ability to take an unlimited number of cat videos and Trump memes to bed with us. My number one tip for sleep hygiene is: plug your phone in downstairs far away from where you sleep. Allow your mind time without the constant stimuli of lights and sounds. Our brains need some clues that we are ready for sleep. One of those things that cues the brain that we are NOT ready for sleep is the lights and sounds from our smart phones.
My number one tip regarding sleep hygiene: plug your phone in downstairs
1.) Buy a new mattress if yours is older than 8 years.
2.) No naughty positions in bed.
3.) Don’t try to change how you sleep unless you have already quit smoking (use passive devices)
4.) Turn off your dang phone and leave it downstairs when you are going to bed.
I could write all day about sleep and how we can do it better, but if you would like more advice feel free to come visit us at www.chiroMEDIX.ca or stop by the office 9132 Mary Street Chilliwack BC V2P4J1 Let’s all try to sleep just a little bit better.
About the author
Author Dr. Spencer Devenney is a Chilliwack Chiropractor, who graduated in 2009 from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) He has a clinical interest in all things mechanical, IE his motto is if it hurts to move it bring it to your chiropractor first. He really loves to write, and has been told that he writes the way he speaks… informal and down to earth. We overheard a patient talking to her daughter and she said “I basically feel like your brother just worked on my back, He is such a nice guy”! (Don’t worry we asked her if we could quote her and she was FINE with that…)