I’m sure that most of you are aware of the profound effect that sleep (or lack thereof) has on your health. But why do you still not get enough of it? And, when you do actually rest you head, are you paying attention to your sleep posture? Posture and your health are tightly connected. Published research studies indicate that when your body is properly aligned and balanced, the body is able to enter a healing cycle that can alleviate pain and symptoms, improve the strength of the immune system, and normalize nervous system communication to create more optimum body performance. It is just as important to pay attention to your posture while you sleep as it is while you are awake.
Here are my tips for good sleep “posture” habits to ensure that even if you aren’t getting the quantity, you are improving your sleep quality and giving your body a chance to rest and restore.
Sleep On Your Back
Do you spend most of your day hunched over a computer, tablet, smart phone or video game? Sleeping on your back with a pillow to support a neutral position gives your body time to rest with proper alignment to give your “posture muscles” a break.
My rule is that sleep trumps all. Start out on your back every night and work on retraining your body to be more comfortable in this position. You may want to put a small pillow under your knees for support. If you can only remain comfortable for 15 minutes, great. The next night you might make it for 20. This retraining is going to take time, so don’t be discouraged. Over time you will become more comfortable sleeping on your back. If you tend to be a side sleeper, just make sure that you have a supportive pillow so that your neck isn’t being strained while you sleep. If you are a stomach sleeper, consider purchasing a body pillow to prevent movement on to your stomach in the middle of the night.
Use A Supportive Pillow.
My recommendation is to use a “dog bone” pillow or a foam cervical pillow. The dog bone pillow is going to encourage the best cervical support, but a foam cervical pillow is also a great choice. Other pillows tend to strain the neck and create an unnatural alignment.
Take 5 minutes when you wake up and 5 minutes before you go to sleep at night to gently stretch your neck, chest muscles, and back. Keeping good range of motion and flexibility is important to prevent poor sleep posture habits trying to get comfortable and avoiding aches and pains. If you are sitting a lot, consider stretching and moving frequently throughout the day to prevent postural strain, stiffness and soreness. The key is to stretch the muscles that are working hard to try to support your body’s posture throughout the day.
Rest in the middle of the day for 10 minutes
Call it a siesta, closing your eyes, or a good old fashion nap. Call it what you want, but take at least 10 minutes every day, preferably in the middle of the day to just rest on your back in a neutral alignment. Why would I include resting in the middle of the day for 10 minutes to my list of good sleep posture habits? This 10 minute rest will do wonders for the function of your nervous system and for your posture. As with the other suggestions above, taking time to rest is going to help to stop the gradual hunching over throughout the day. You might even find yourself not wearing your shoulders as earrings. Resting for short periods will also give your brain a rest. A recent study published in Forbes indicated that as little as 10 minutes can improve cognitive function and energy. A brief rest mid day will also help you sleep more soundly at night.
By keeping your body properly aligned and giving it a chance to rest, you will have a healthy nervous system. Remember, posture and the state of your health are connected.
What tips do you have that have worked in your life?