An old Chinese proverb says, “Only when one cannot sleep does one know how long the night is.” Anyone who has battled with insomnia knows just how long that night can be. Most of us want to get better sleep.
Why You Need To Get Better Sleep
Studies have shown that 60% of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. (1) Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well being. Daily stress, worries, and pressures from life can weigh you down and cause lack of sleep. Body aches and pains caused by a bad mattress or pillow can also cause lack of sleep. Sleep has been described as one of the most important functions of your brain.
Lack of sleep is a serious matter. You want to get better sleep to maintain good health and proper functioning. You may feel some of these common symptoms if you need to get better sleep (7):
- Day time sleepiness
- Achy muscles
- Head aches
- “Bags” underneath the eyes
- Increased stress hormone levels
- Increased blood pressure
- Temper tantrums in children
How to Get Better Sleep
Try some of these simple tips to get some more shut eye.
- Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule. Our bodies work best when our internal clocks go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
- Switch your pillow to a water based pillow. A John Hopkins study has shown that water based pillows provide the most restful sleep and reduces morning neck pain and stiffness. (2,3,4)
- Minimize noise, light, and excessive hot or cold temperatures where you sleep. Ear plugs and an eye mask is a very cheap way to achieve this.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising in the morning is the best. But if you must exercise in the evening, give yourself at least 2-3 hours of cool down before bedtime. Otherwise the increased heart rate could affect your sleep.
- Limit caffeine. Try to avoid coffee, tea, soda 4-6 hours before bedtime. Also, drink an extra cup of water for each caffeinated beverage you have.
- Eat an early dinner and don’t drink alcohol before bed.
- Don’t smoke, especially before bed or if you wake up at night.
- Try waking up without an alarm clock. Sleepyti.me is a great website to help you use REM cycles to your advantage and wake rested. (6)
- Dr. Cooper has had several patients describe a better night’s sleep after getting C1 adjusting using Atlas Orthogonal.
- A mattress should provide uniform support from head to toe. If there are gaps between your body and your mattress (such as at the waist), you’re not getting the full support you need.
- If you have back pain, you might want to firm up the support of the mattress by placing a board underneath it. Just do this until the pain goes away. Too much firmness is not good for routine sleep and could even hurt your mattress.
- Every few months, turn or flip your mattress so body indentations are kept to a minimum.
- If you wake up uncomfortable, it may be time for a new mattress. There is no standard mattress life. It all depends on how much use the mattress gets.
You invested a lot into a good mattress, don’t skimp on a good pillow. People sometimes spend thousands of dollars on a wonderful mattress and then buy a cheap pillow that doesn’t support the head and neck properly.
- A good pillow will keep the cervical (neck) section aligned with the thoracic and lumbar (mid and lower back).
- Your head should not be propped up too high causing an angle sharp away from the body.
- Pillows that are too mushy can leave little support for your head and neck.
- If you commonly sleep on your side with one hand under the pillow, that’s a clue that you’re not getting the support you need from that pillow.
Dr. Cooper recommends a water based pillow such as Chiroflow. “I personally use the Chiroflow pillow. I used to wake up with a stiff neck but I haven’t since I switched my pillow.”
- American Phychological Association http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx
- John Hopkins Study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Cervical Pain: A comparison of three pillows.
- Neck Pain study
- Sleep satisfaction study.
- Sleep deprivation symptoms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_deprivation