Sleep hygiene is a popular new buzzword that has been widely used because of the many Americans who struggle with sleep and feeling well-rested. The American Sleep Association defines ‘sleep hygiene’ as behaviors that one can do to help promote good sleep using behavioral interventions. Most people understand that limiting naps and stimulants are part of the behaviors recommended for a good night’s sleep. Yet even with good habits in place to prepare for a good night’s rest, sleep hygiene can be a problem. The effects of HOW one sleeps should be examined. This can be the reason for not feeling well-rested and energized. How you sleep is very much part of sleep hygiene.
The American Chiropractic Association acknowledges that approximately 35 million Americans visit chiropractors each year and most of these visits involve complaints of neck and back pain. It has been found that many people are not able to sleep well because they lack proper sleep hygiene. Here are tips to ‘clean up’ your sleep hygiene and feel the best you can be:
• Be aware of sleep posture Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this can cause hyperextension of your back and neck.
• Use a pillow for hip alignment If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to help keep your hips level. If you sleep on your back, a pillow underneath your knees can help remove pressure from your lower back.
• Check pillow height Collapsed pillows provide little or no neck support and if pillows are doubled up, this can raise your head too high. When you lay on your side, your nose should be parallel to the ground and in neutral alignment without angled upward or downward.
• Stretch and roll up The way you wake up in the morning can be as important as the way you sleep. Sitting up too quickly and hopping out of bed can cause strain on your entire body including your lower back. Stretch (without pulling on your joints) and roll yourself to a sitting position.