Did you get a good night of sleep last night? Maybe you’re unsure what a “good night of sleep” equates to. So let’s explore what good quality sleep really is, why it's so important for your health, and look at some good sleeping postures.
Firstly, let’s get straight into the meat and potatoes - according to The Mayo Clinic, this is how much sleep you should be getting:
Okay, so now you know how much sleep you should be getting which is awesome! Now that you know better, you can do better to meet your sleep goals; whether that be to increase or reduce how much sleep you’re getting. That's right - over sleeping can be as detrimental to your health as under sleeping! So try to get into that sweet spot range of sleep every night.
Did you notice that I wrote EVERY night?
Try to avoid putting yourself in a position where you create a sleep debt and are forced to catch up on sleep. Quality sleep is just as much about consistency as it is about quantity. Let's look at it another way; you wouldn't starve yourself until you're withered and then catch up on eating by going to an all you can eat buffet, right? Of course not, your body requires consistent energy from food to maintain its health.
Sleep is the same way in that you should be getting consistent amounts every night. It's a time for your body to rest, replenish and regenerate to prepare for the all the mental, physical and emotional requirements of the following day.
All right, so now you know about the importance of quantity and consistency as it pertains to good quality sleep. But WHY is quality sleep so important for your health?
As you can see, consistently getting the right amount of sleep is an incredibly important part of maintaining your health! So you may want to think twice before you pull your next all-nighter; or the next time you tell yourself you'll just watch "one more episode" during a TV series binge when you've got responsibilities the next morning.
Let's talk about sleep posture next as I'm often asked if there's a "right way" to sleep. The short answer is, yes!
The right way to sleep is to be in a sleep posture that maintains and supports the natural shape of your spine. Let's take a look at the side sleeping posture below.
You may have noticed that there's a pillow in between the guy's legs. This can help reduce physical stress on the spine as you sleep. If you lay on your side right now, you'll notice that your leg against the bed/floor is flat and parallel, but then your other leg is bent at an angle because your knees have come together. That angle of your top leg puts extra pressure on your hip which transfers to your spine.
When sleeping on your side, your neck needs a little extra cushioning underneath it for support since your head is wider and thicker than your neck is. Be sure that your neck is in a neutral posture and does not bend towards either the ceiling or the floor.
There should always be a little extra cushioning to support the neck when sleeping both sideways and supine
Now if we look at a supine sleeping posture (laying on your back), you'll notice that there's a pillow tucked underneath the guy's legs. To better understand why that's there, go ahead and lay down flat on your back, relax your body, and pay attention to your feet. For the vast majority of you, you'll have found that both your feet flared outwards.
As your feet flare outwards this creates a chain reaction going up your leg. Your feet flare/rotate outwards, your shin bones rotate, as do your thigh bones and then your hips. That rotation puts a lot of pressure on your pelvis and lower back.
Putting a pillow or a bolster under your knees forces them to bend slightly. Because your knees are bent, it breaks the chain reaction and minimizes the foot flare and stops the rotation of the rest of the leg which prevents all the pressure at the hip, pelvis and lower back. You may find that when you wake up that the pillow under your knees is now on the floor or beside you. That's typically expected as most of us naturally roll and shift positions when we're asleep. It's not a problem though as the goal is to minimize the duration of the stress on our body.
Quality sleep is an incredibly important part of our health! We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, so that's a lot of stress on your body if you haven't been getting enough sleep, been over sleeping, or aren't sleeping with good posture. So have you been getting good quality sleep? And have you been practicing proper sleeping posture? It's never too late to have your spine checked! Click HERE to make an appointment.
214 Wellington Street