Sleep is a powerful tool – too little sleep alters and slows recovery time from injury, and adversely affects overall physical and mental health, while good quality sleep of 8 hours can improve the effects of ageing, improve memory, healing from injuries and optimise your well – being.
The National Sleep Foundation of Australia recommends that adults between 18-64 years old get seven to nine hours sleep per night, with those over 65 years needing seven to eight hours. Despite this advice 45% of Australians are not getting enough sleep which is detrimental to the body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate – a significant role in rehabilitation and recovery.
Poor and inadequate sleep can cause both an increase in the incidence of injury and a delay in of recovery rate. Athletes who receive less than eight hours of sleep per night are 1.7 times more likely to have an injury.
Professor Matthew Paul Walker is an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has conducted research into the effects of sleeping on mental and physical health with some interesting and alarming results. Listen to his TED talk – on why you should be getting a good night’s sleep.
What we know that getting a good night’s sleep is important but what is the best position to sleep?
The National Sleep Foundation of Australia has noted that sleeping positions can have a major impact on quality of sleep and overall health, finding that poor posture could potentially cause back and neck pain, along with fatigue, muscle cramping and other health issues.
Sleeping on your back is generally agreed to be the best position for spinal health. Sleeping on the back evenly distributes weight across the surface of your body, allowing your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position. However, many people prefer to sleep on their sides.
Tips to help you improve your sleep
- Sleeping on the back evenly distributes weight across the surface of your body, allowing your head, neck and spine to rest in a neutral position.
- Sleeping on your side can often be more helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it distorts the natural alignment of the spine. Sleeping on your stomach can create problems with your spine as it puts unnecessary pressure on your neck due to twisting your head and can overextend the lower spine for prolonged periods.
- Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally the best recommendation, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Either way make sure the mattress does not sag excessively in the middle. Your comfort is important.
- Sleep with a pillow. There are special pillows available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position. The pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be of a thickness that allows your head to be in a neutral position and well aligned
Hope this helps, Deb