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Sleep yourself healthy!

With our busy modern lives and overflowing schedules, sleep never seems to appear on the ‘to do’ list but rejuvenating sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing. Our bodies and minds need the time to relax and repair tissues, process the day, calm our mood, balance hormones and boost our immune system. Without it we are far more vulnerable to developing physical or mental illnesses.

As an osteopath I regularly talk to patients about how their sleep position can cause or exacerbate their neck, shoulder, back or hip problems and lack of sleep can slow their recovery.

Find the right position

The ideal sleep position provides support for the natural alignment and curves of the spine and allows uninterrupted blood flow around the body… and it’s comfortable!

Back sleeper

Potentially the most supportive offering least opportunity of over twisting your spine. However, not ideal for those with snoring or reflux issues and can cause back or neck pain if not well supported.

  • Use one low pillow under your head to prevent straining your neck, preferably pushing more pillow in to the space under your neck for support. Or use a specially designed orthopaedic pillow with neck support (see www.sisseluk.com).
  • Prevent lower back pain with a pillow under your knees, keeping your hips slightly bent.

Side sleeper

Particularly good for pregnant women but can cause problems for vulnerable shoulders, hips or lower back.

  • Use the appropriate pillow height (and number) for your shoulder width, ensuring your head and neck remain in line with the rest of your spine.
  • Make sure your neck is supported by your pillows or try an orthopaedic curved pillow.
  • Put a pillow between your knees to keep your legs parallel.
  • Avoid curling too far into a foetal position as it will strain your neck and back.

Front sleeper

Rarely an advisable position due to the pressure it can put on your lower back joints and forced rotation through the neck. However, if it is your only comfortable position…

  • Prevent exaggeration of the curve in your lower back by using a pillow under your hips and tummy.
  • Reduce the amount of neck rotation with a pillow placed diagonally under the head so that your face ‘falls off’ the edge.
  • Have your arms by your side to prevent shoulder strain.

It is also important to take time find the right mattress for you. Quality memory foam, pocket sprung (or a combination of the two) are generally best and you should look to change it every 10 years. Make your bedroom a calm space away from work and electronics and keep the room cool and well ventilated.

For osteopathic treatment and advice that may help your sleep or to ‘book and borrow’ one of our Sissel neck pillows to try for yourself, please contact The Odiham Clinic. So make sleep a priority not a luxury and dream yourself healthy!