How to sleep properly:
Although it seems like a basic activity, sleeping is an essential activity in the life of all human beings. It allows the brain to rest as well as the recovery of the muscles and other tissues.
However, millions of Americans today suffer from insomnia and other sleep-related problems, significantly affecting their quality of life.
In this article, we will review the importance of sleep as well as some tips for quality sleep.
Small changes, big differences
Although there is currently a boom in sleeping pills, the truth is that they have side effects and in the long term they can lead to dependency. However, implementing small changes in sleep habits can make a big difference and prevent insomnia from setting in and becoming chronic.
Simple things like proper posture, room temperature, a comfortable pillow, and the right mattress can help you sleep better, even with the same amount of sleep.
Of all these healthy sleep habits, body posture when sleeping is the most important.
The way in which body weight is distributed when sleeping should be uniform, avoiding points of excessive pressure or hyperextension of the extremities and the neck.
A correct sleeping posture should be characterized by:
- Straight or semi-straight posture, with the neck erect on the pillow.
- Sleep on your back (supine position).
- Avoid hyperflexion of the arms or legs.
Foremost, the alignment of the back should be neutral. That is, straight but flexible enough to be comfortable and avoid waking up with a back strain the next morning.
Many sleep specialists recommend using an extra pillow for your legs. This is located below the lower extremities to support them and generate a slight flexion of the knees, reducing the compression of the nerve plexus that leaves the spine at hip level.
Although it seems simple, sleeping on your back can:
- Significantly improve breathing.
- Avoid deterioration of the intervertebral discs of the spine, especially the cervical spine.
- Prevent wrinkles on the skin of the face.
However, throughout the night, inevitably, the body will move sideways, but it is possible that going to sleep with a comfortable and conscious posture already established will decrease the probability of this happening.
The arms and legs should rest without tension or compression of any kind; preferably on the mattress.
Placing the arms under the pillow is a practice that can pull the fibers of the brachial plexus (nerves that come out of the spinal cord in the neck and shoulders) and cause pain or discomfort.
Pillow and mattress
The pillow must be comfortable in terms of consistency, size, and height. It plays a key role in supporting the weight of the head (which is upright most of the day) and in resting the musculoskeletal system of the neck.
But be careful, a very inconsistent or very high pillow can injure the neck and predispose to pathologies of the cervical nervous system.
Similarly, the mattress should be soft enough that the resting points of the body maintain symmetrical tension, but not so soft that it could cause the body weight to become unbalanced at any point.
Sporadically, both the pillows and the mattress should be changed for new ones. Check with your manufacturer for the useful life period and schedule any replacements that need to be done.
The room temperature should be as natural as possible, allowing proper ventilation but avoiding cold drafts, as it could predispose to allergies or colds. If the room temperature is very high, adjust the temperature of the ventilation to cool down the room a little.
One way to know the ideal temperature is that with a single sheet or blanket you should sleep comfortably.
Other tips for better sleep is possible thanks to small but consistent changes in the habits we adopt when sleeping.
In addition to those mentioned, it is possible to improve the quality of rest by taking into account:
- Avoid large meals one hour before going to bed.
- Avoid drinking coffee or caffeinated beverages (this induces insomnia).
- Avoid the use of screens or electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
- Sleepwear should be comfortable and allow aeration of body surfaces.
- Reading a book before going to bed can help you fall asleep.
Like most things in life, desired outcomes rest on the amount of effort you put in. When it comes to sleep and your daily habits, if you are willing to make a few simple changes – whether it be avoiding your phone before bedtime or looking after your sleep posture, you’ll be doing your body much good in the long run.