Getting good sleep
Along with good eating habits and regular exercise, getting proper sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, many people discount the importance of a good night’s sleep, even though there are important physical and psychological reasons for getting both sleep quality and quantity.
Given that on average we spend six to eight hours per day sleeping, doesn’t it makes sense to choose the best bedding system available?
From a physical therapy point of view, you need to look for pillows and beds that properly support your body and help you avoid joint stiffness, nagging aches and pains and especially back problems later in life. There are other issues to consider as well. Have a look at four important sleep-related issues listed below:
The importance of a proper bed
Proper sleep demands that you maintain proper posture in one or more positions for extended periods of time. This helps to ensure long-term spinal health, reduces lower back pain and improves overall well-being. Therefore, choose a bed that will support your spine and body.
Improving your sleep starts by determining what type of sleeper you are (i.e. side, back, stomach, variable). Side sleeping is the most common position, but the other three categories are also accounted for by leading bed manufacturers in terms of material, thickness and durability.
Make sure you thoroughly test your bed before making a purchase. While it may seem silly to “test drive” a bed, it makes perfect sense when you realize that folks spent more time on it than just about anything else (e.g. car driver’s seat, computer chair).
If you have special needs or suffer from back problems, you should consult your physical therapist when choosing a bed.
When to consider replacing your bed
If you feel that your sleep quality is not what it should be, it may be time to replace your bed. Based on regular nightly use, the life expectancy of a mattress and foundation is about ten years. Even if your bed is not that old, always look for visual signs of excess wear and tear, i.e. “lumps”, stains, tears, etc.
Buy the best bed that you can afford. Considering that you spend about one third of your life in bed (and beds last about 10 years), it makes sense to buy a good one.
Believe it or not, bedding technology has advanced considerably in recent years, so trying out the latest offerings may prove quite revealing.
Don’t forget to select the right pillow
Having the right bed is a major step towards improving your nightly sleep, but that alone is not enough. As with your bedding choice, your pillow selection should be based on your sleep type. All pillows must provide adequate neck and spine support, but side sleepers also need strong shoulder support.
Not all pillows are created equal. Consider the variety of features and benefits offered (e.g. anti-bacterial, anti-allergen, memory foam, etc.). Your physical therapist will help you make the right choice.
Your sleep environment – avoid distractions
The best mattress and pillow combinations won’t do any good unless you commit to improving your sleep environment. Bedrooms that are too warm, too cold, or too bright will disturb your sleep, as well as excessive noise inside or outside your house.
Keeping computers, televisions, video equipment and even clocks nearby are tempting distractions. As much as possible, keep your main sleeping area free of clutter.
Getting a good night’s sleep becomes much easier when you put a system in place that provides both comfort and support. A qualified physical therapist should be able to recommend pillows and beds to fit your current needs and refer you to sleep specialists if necessary.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions when it comes to this most critical of human activities. Take sleep seriously – think about how waking up fully rested every morning can give you the edge in your daily life.
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