How many times have you woken up with an achy back and stiff joints after what you thought was a ‘good night’s sleep’?
March is National Bed Month and thousands of people are still waking up after sleepless nights, tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable in bed.
The experts at McTimoney Chiropractic Association and Dunlopillo have come up with some top tips for preventing neck and back pain whilst sleeping.
• Check your mattress - is it time for a new bed? If you find you are sleeping less well than you did a year ago, or if your mattress is sagging in the middle, or you are waking up with aches and pains, it may be time for a new bed. A good mattress will offer support allowing the correct alignment of your spine and body as you sleep.
• Choose your pillows carefully – use a pillow that is right for the position you normally sleep in and one which allows the neck to be in a natural position. For instance, if you sleep on your back or front, you will need a slimmer pillow than if you sleep on your side.
• Sleeping position – lying on your back or on your side creates less stress on the back and neck than other positions; also try to avoid being in one position for too long.
• Create a calm and relaxed environment - which is well ventilated and without draughts. Try to relax before going to bed. Try things that help relax both the mind and the body, such as a warm bath or listening to some music. The Sleep Council offer several great ideas on their website.
• Watching TV - If you like to watch TV in bed, ensure you are in a position that is comfortable for your back and neck. Avoid slouching against the pillows and creating a banana shape in your back as this stresses the spine, muscles in your back, neck and shoulders.
• Take a minute in the morning - take a minute to wake up and try some gentle stretches. Avoid bending or doing anything strenuous until your spine and joints have had time to ‘wake up’.
How to choose a bed
• Ideally Dunlopillo and the Sleep Council recommend you think about changing your mattress at least every seven years. Expect, and prepare for, the seven year hitch!
• Your mattress should offer support and be comfortable. Your height, weight and sleeping position will define the type of mattress you need. Ensure that your partner is comfortable as well - and that the bed is large enough for both of you. Sometimes split mattresses which zip together are the answer for those with different needs.
• Try lying on your side - your spine should be parallel to the mattress and the mattress should neither sag in the middle nor bow. Sagging means the mattress is too soft, and bowing means the bed is too hard.
• Your mattress and base work together so try to think of them together, and don’t buy either in isolation.
• Once you have a couple of choices, spend at least 10 minutes lying on each bed in your normal sleeping positions. Make sure your partner is with you so you can ensure the final choice suits you both.