We know how important sleep is to our overall health, but do you know how many elements go into a good night’s sleep. Everything from the bed to the pillow to your routine mater. Here’s 5 things we bet you don’t know about getting a good night’s sleep.
We are currently in a renaissance of sleep research with thousands of studies being conducted. Each one revealing new elements to the importance of sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
The number of health problems associated with sleep deprivation is alarming, and the fact that 2/3’s of the adult population are not achieving adequate sleep makes it even more so. Some health problems associated with sleep deprivation include increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease (stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure), weight gain; and poor mental and physical performance.
When you get consistent and high quality sleep you can expect improved memory, enhanced creativity and decision making. Adequate sleep also improves the immune system, helps fight malignancy, prevents infection and wards off sickness.
Where should you start?
You wouldn’t run or hike without the best sports gear and yet, despite spending a third of our lives sleeping, so many people don’t have the right equipment.
When it comes to the structural aspect of sleep, the mattress is the cornerstone. A common theme with people don’t sleep well is that they wake with pain. The root of this problem can be one of three things.
It could be mechanical, which refers to how they’re using their body through the day and requires movement education, manual therapy and/or therapeutic exercise prescription.
It could be positional, which is based on improper sleeping postures and positions. Maybe not ensuring their spine is in a generally neutral position free of excess stress and strain.
Or it could be structural, which means that maybe their mattress is worn out or not suited to their body. Maybe they need a new pillow or it is not suited to them. With this multi-pronged approach we are able to address a variety of major issues that cause sleep deprivation.
What should you look for in a mattress?
The short answer is, it depends! There are many things that need to be considered when choosing it’s unique to every customer. A few things that have a bearing on the decision are old injuries, preference, size, and sleeping arrangement.
Is the most expensive mattress the best?
Not necessarily! One thing that is for certain is that the bigger the better. On average people move 40-60 times per night so there should be some space to ensure comfort. If you are sharing the bed with a partner consider this. A standard double is 4 ft 6 inches, with a couple sleeping in it this is 2ft 3inches per person, or the same amount of space a child had in a cot. A pocket sprung mattress is optimal for couples as it reduces sleep disturbance and will improve quality of sleep.
How often should you replace your mattress?
Every 8 years at a minimal as over time they gradually lose their support and collect dust mites and allergens! A mattress doubles in weight over a 10 year period.
Do pillows really matter?
Yes! Pillows are the second important aspect to take into consideration. As with the pillows what you are looking for will depend. Head size, distance from shoulder to ear, mattress firmness, sleeping position, preferred position and previous injury are all aspects that should be considered. Pillows should be replaced every two years for reasons of support and hygiene.
Is sleep hygiene really that important?
Yes! Room temperature should be kept between 16-18 degrees, with high air quality (purification via perennial snake bedroom plant or English ivy), routinely cleaned fresh sheets. Likewise a room decorated with pastel or calming colours is helpful. Try creating an environment with complete darkness through black out blinds or an eye mask. And most importantly, try keeping LEDs, blue lights, TVs and computers out of the sleeping area. Developing a pre-sleep ritual and waking ritual help enhance the overall sleeping quality.
The Sleep Shop is the first retailer in Ireland to have a house chiropractor offering a free, no obligation fitting service for both mattresses and pillows. Dr. Greg Tollefson is the consultant chiropractor to The Sleep Shop