Sleepless in America?
More than one in three Americans are not getting a quality good night's sleep. According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, a combination of daily stress and lifestyle choices (including nighttime activities as well as eating and exercise habits) is causing more than a third of the U.S. population to get fewer hours of sleep than they need. So it should come as no surprise that the same amount of people are reporting that not getting the right amount of sleep is actually affecting their overall quality of life.
A Long-Term Approach for Quality Sleep.
Many studies tend to focus on the amount of hours that a person sleeps. As good night's sleep is not just about quantity; it is about quality as well. Experts believe that if you are not getting a good night's sleep there are ways to help improve your quality of sleep. By establishing a sensible routine and avoiding certain behaviors around bedtime may be the key to getting a good quality night's sleep. Here are a few suggestions from the experts:
1) Establish a schedule; making sure to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
2) Avoid exercising two to three hours prior to bedtime. Your heart rate needs to be normal in order to get a good night's sleep. If your heart rate is increased it will reduce your quality of sleep.
3) Have an early dinner each evening. This will allow your food to digest properly before bedtime.
4) If you must drink before bedtime; drink water. Avoid drinking anything hot or cold before bedtime.
5) Reduce or eliminate caffeine and other stimulants in your diet.
6)Sleep on your back and/or your side. Don't sleep on your stomach!
Little Things Can Make A Huge Difference When it Comes to Sleep.
There are a few 'little' things you can do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep while you are making those lifestyle adjustments. Finding different ways to effectively manage stress and making lifestyle adjustments take time. Here are some things you can do right away that focus on your sleeping environment itself:
1) Make your room is as dark as possible at bedtime.
2) Turn off the television, radio, etc before turning off the light.
3) Make sure the temperature in your room is at the correct comfort level.
4) Sleep on a mattress that best suits your needs.
5) Choose the right pillow.
Is Your Pillow Doing You Justice?
Let's be frank: when you bought your pillow you didn't give any thought about whether it was the right pillow or not. The truth is that most people don't. We all know how important it is to buy the best mattress there is to support our backs and most of us will spend thousands of dollars to make sure we get the mattress that offers the best back support. But, then we will buy pillows that don't support our heads and necks properly. Most people understand that if we don't sleep on a mattress that provides good support for our back that it can cause backaches. But, people need to understand that not having the head and upper back supported by the correct pillow can cause other more subtle problems that have nothing to do with the spine.
A person's head needs to be even with the rest of the body in order to avoid placing the neck and upper back under any kind of stress. Similar stress can also occur if their upper back is not supported along with the neck (so that the head tilts forward), or if the head is allowed to roll sideways when the person is sleeping on his or her back. There are signs that can point to not having the right pillow. Some of these signs can include but are not limited to: snoring or insomnia. Waking up with a headache, a stiff neck or numbness in the arms and hands can also be a sign that you are not getting the right support from your pillow. If you're experiencing these sorts of symptoms, you may be sleeping on the wrong pillow.
What Makes a Pillow 'Right'?
Choosing a pillow is a very personal decision. What's right for one person may not necessarily be right for someone else. Even though everyone will have a different preference, there are some basic guidelines that will make it easier for you to choose the right one. The right pillow will:
1) Provide support for your head elevating it to the proper height no matter what position you choose to sleep in.
2) Helps to keep your head and neck in a neutral position while you're sleeping on your side (This is only beneficial is there is no gap between the pillow and your neck).
3) Provides adequate support for both your neck and upper back while you're sleeping on your back.
4) Keeps your head tilted in the proper neutral position while you're sleeping on your back.
5) Supports your head from rolling to the side when you are sleeping on your back.
6) Is easy to move on.
The best pillow is the pillow that will provide support for your neck as it cushions your head and keeps your spine aligned all at the same time. It must be comfortable!
Some Tips for Buying the Right Pillow
Know what you like. Is it a pillow that has a 'bounce' to it or one that 'molds' to the shape of your head and neck that you like? Do you like a pillow that feels soft a fluffy or hard and firm? Is it important to you that the material 'breathes' and offers good insulation from heat and cold? Maybe you prefer a pillow made of synthetic or hypo-allergenic material? The better you can communicate your likes and dislikes the better chances your salesperson has of helping you choose the correct pillow. Don't skimp. Just like everything else that we buy; you will find that pillows vary in their price, and their quality of construction and materials. In most cases; the better quality pillow will be made of materials that provide better support, comfort and durability. But keep in mind that the first priorities are comfort and function. Just because a pillow is expensive doesn't mean it's right for you. Take the time to 'test drive' and compare. You and your pillow will spend eight hours a night with one another; so choosing the right one is very important. Many department stores, mattress retailers and specialty bedding shops will have sample pillows that you can try. If possible, follow the 'Ten Minute Rule' and test drive pillows in your favorite sleeping positions. Avoid buying a matched set of pillows for yourself and your partner. No two people's bodies are made the same; so each person will require a different pillow. What works well for you may not work for your partner. Each of you should choose your own pillow individually.
Get an Expert Opinion from the Doctor Who Understands Your Neck and Back Best
If your quality and/or quantity of sleep is becoming poor or if you are waking up with a stiff neck, headache or numbness in your arms or hands; call your chiropractor and take your pillow with you to your first appointment. Your chiropractor can evaluate you and your pillow and see if it is time to divorce your pillow and get one that is a better fit for you.
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