Did you know your body does it’s best healing when you sleep?
If you’re not getting a good restful nights sleep, your body won’t be able to repair at the same rate as when you are deeply sleeping.
How can you help influence your sleep patterns?
Routine - if you have a set routine, this can make it easier to plan what time you need to wake up and what time you should ideally sleep. 8 hours of solid rest is pretty ideal, but don’t forget to allow a little buffer room unless you can reliably fall asleep as soon as you get in bed!
This can be harder if your routine changes a lot, like shift workers or overnight workers, or if you have a baby to care for during the night.
Mattress - how old is your mattress? Mattresses should be replaced approximately every 8-10 years, or about every decade. Modern mattresses have a lot to offer, from varied springs and supports, to electronic adjustable mattresses, or cooling fabrics and fillers. Your mattress should give you comfortable support, particularly around your back, hips, shoulders and neck. If your mattress sags or has broken springs, it definitely sounds like time to upgrade! Hard or soft is really up to personal preference, but the ideal mattress for your unique body shouldn’t leave you feeling pain or strain caused by lack of support. Our friends Andrew and Karen at Mattresses Direct to Public in Kilsyth can help recommend a mattress that suits you.
Pillow - a good supportive pillow can make a big difference! Pillows are personal, some people prefer a soft squishy pillow, and some prefer a much firmer pillow. The way you sleep will also determine the best pillow for you, if you're a back sleeper you may only need one thin pillow to keep your neck in a nice neutral position, but if you're a side sleeper then you may need more support under your head to keep that neutral neck position. If your pillow is old and sagging, its time to replace it.
Temperature - can you keep the climate comfortable in your room? A fan or heater depending on the season can make it easier to get a better sleep. It can also improve air flow in your bedroom. Having bedding that is suitable for the season can also be useful in aiding your sleep - a heavy, warm cover for winter, and a light cover for hot summer nights.
Sounds - some will be out of your control, like outdoor noises (possums make the worst sounds at night!) Consider things like ticking clocks or sounds that can be heard from the rest of the house. A lot of people find sound can help them sleep, for example playing music that helps you relax, or even the white noise of a fan running in the background.
Environment - is your room clean? Has your bed been made? These factors might not seem important to sleep, but having a clean hygienic space for sleep can help improve your sleep.
Don’t eat before bed - make your last meal at least 2-3 hours before you go to sleep, especially if it’s a heavy meal.
Screen time - phones, computers and TVs can be very mentally stimulating, so using these right up until you go to bed can make it harder to slip into sleep. Try to switch off the electronics for more than half an hour before you go to bed.
Stress management - stress and anxiety can keep you up at night. What ways would you find enjoyable to decrease stress and anxiety at the end of your day? Some great options are a gentle movement practice like yoga, a wind down relaxation practice like guided meditation or yoga Nidra, writing a brain dump or journal entry to clear your mind, or having a hot shower to relax right tired muscles.
Herbal supplements - while its outside of my scope to recommend specific herbal supplements, a Chinese Medicine practitioner can prescribe you some natural herbal remedies that can help you retrain your sleep cycle. Our good friend Amanda at Upwey Acupuncture can help you with herbal prescriptions specifically designed for you.
Sleep is one of the factors that we often talk about in treatments. Its so essential to your recovery process, especially if you have a long term pain condition. In fact, one of the most commonly reported effects of our treatments is that the person was able to sleep better afterwards!
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.