Human beings spend one-third of their lives asleep. This puts into perspective how significant the quality of your mattress is. Proper sleep ergonomics provide adequate support and comfort to ensure that we are well-rested for the challenges of everyday life.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to our health and well-being. It restores energy levels, consolidates memory, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure–the list goes on and on. Inadequate sleep, on the other hand, is detrimental to our health and may even lead to shortened life expectancy (1).
Considerations for Sleep
To get a good night’s sleep, it is important to consider your sleep environment. It should be conditioned to promote rest and comfort. This includes adequate lighting (usually this means no lights), noise levels, and temperature. Sleep hygiene practices such as a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine at night are also good for promoting sleep.
The bed and pillow you sleep on should provide adequate support for the spine, neck, and shoulders. Pillows should also allow proper positioning of the body to prevent stiffness and pain associated with awkward sleeping. In other words, your bed and pillow need to be ergonomic; that is, designed to fit and support your body.
When it comes to mattresses, the materials used to build it make all the difference. These have a direct effect on a matress’s ability to provide support and subjective comfort. If the material is too soft, parts of the body may sink-in and put the spine in an awkward position. If a mattress is too firm, it can push up on the body and create the same problem
A proper mattress allows for the neutral position of the spine, head, appendages, and girdles (pelvic and pectoral). Personal preferences on mattress texture should be also be taken into account as these play a role in subjective comfort. Remember, that once you are asleep, your body will remain in one position for hours. Proper sleep posture is essential for a healthy body and a healthy life.
A quality pillow provides support for the spine, neck, and shoulders. It should allow the neck to align with the rest of the spine which requires a specific size and density. Luckily, materials used for making ergonomic pillows can vary in density and durability.
An ideal ergonomic pillow is fitted to the individual’s upper body and allows proper breathing while sleeping. This relieves stress on vessels, nerves, and muscles of the upper back and neck. Proper head positioning opens up respiratory pathways and may even prevent snoring. Again, individual preferences for comfort should also be taken into account.
While sleeping positions are habits that are hard to kick, there is still a lot a person can do to improve awkward sleeping and get better rest. Most people sleep in one of three positions- on their back, on their side, or on their stomach.
Back Sleeping: If you sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees to lift them slightly and improve the position of the spine. The pillow used to support your head and neck should contour to the natural curvature of the cervical spine and allow its alignment with the rest of the spine.
Side Sleeping: If you sleep on your side, place a pillow in-between your knees to help lower stress in the hip and improve circulation to the lower extremities. The pillow used to support the head should be of the proper size and density to keep the neck aligned with the rest of the spine.
Avoid placing your head on arm or lifting your arm above your head as this can reduce blood flow, put pressure on nerves, and lead to stiff shoulders the following morning. Using a body pillow to hug and/or place between your knees is a good idea.
Stomach Sleeping: Sleeping on your stomach is not ideal and should be avoided if possible. This position does not allow proper spine alignment and may lead to neck pain. Stiff and aching muscles may also result from sleeping on your stomach.
A Better Nights Rest
Besides sleep ergonomics, there are many ways in which to ensure your quality of sleep. Regular exercise, acupuncture, and massage are highly effective for kicking insomnia to the curb. Pillows such as the Nobel Body Pillow that are designed specifically for ergonomically correct posture are another great way to improve your sleeping habits. To find out a personalized health plan, consider receiving a comprehensive Health Enhancement Analysis that will cover everything from exercise, to diet, to proper sleep ergonomics to bring YOU to your optimal health!
- “Consequences of Insufficient Sleep.” Consequences of Insufficient Sleep | Healthy Sleep, http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences.
- “Choosing the Best Sleep Position.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/choosing-the-best-sleep-position.
- “Journal Of Applied Chiropractic Sciences.” International Chiropractors Association, http://www.chiropractic.org/proper-spinal-alignment-support-during-sleep/.