Whether it’s just the odd night spent tossing and turning or chronic, periodic insomnia, most people experience some form of sleeplessness at some time in their lives.
Because March is National Sleep Awareness Month, it’s the perfect time to focus on how to make sure you’re getting enough shuteye all the time.
Here are four ways to help you overcome your struggles with sleeplessness and get a better night’s rest tonight.
1.Choose the right mattress. A good night’s rest starts with the mattress you sleep on, so if you’re not sleeping well, changing your mattress could make a world of difference. Most of us know that we should replace a mattress at least every 10 years, but how do you choose the right one?
For starters, a mattress should provide firm but comfortable support to keep your spine in alignment while sleeping on your side or on your back. When you lie down, your mattress should give you a sense of floating, not sinking. Memory foam mattresses are a great choice because they conform to your body’s shape and eliminate pressure points.
You should also choose a mattress that will help you sleep cool and provide the same feel no matter the ambient room temperature.
Finally, be sure to pair your mattress with the correct pillow to keep your body aligned.
2. Supplement your sleep with vitamins. Among the many reasons you want to get a good night’s sleep is the link between sleep deprivation and chronic illnesses. For example, people with high blood sugar often don’t sleep well. Diabetes can cause sleep loss too, and there’s evidence that not sleeping well can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
To help overcome your sleep-related issues, take a closer look at your diet and supplement what you’re eating with natural herbs and vitamins:
• Magnesium, a calming nutrient, can help induce a deeper sleep, especially when taken together with calcium. Research from the Biochemistry and Neurophysiology Unit at the University of Geneva’s Department of Psychiatry indicates that higher levels of magnesium helped provide better, more consistent sleep. Foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate are loaded with magnesium.
• Oligonol, a supplement derived from lychee fruit and green tea, offers a variety of health benefits, including help with sleeping. In clinical trials, those who took oligonol reported improvements in their quality of sleep.
• Other natural supplements containing calcium, passionflower, and lavender oil work to encourage a restful night’s sleep by modulating the metabolism of melatonin and promoting relaxation.
3. Pick a restful sleeping position. Another solution for getting better sleep is changing your sleep position. Here are four common sleeping positions, their benefits, and their drawbacks:
• Sleeping on your back. Most experts agree that sleeping on your back is the ideal position, but it’s not for everyone. When you sleep on your back, you stretch your body out evenly on the mattress. Your head, neck, and spine are aligned in a neutral position — there’s no extra stress on any part of your body. As a chiropractor, I recommend back sleeping because it puts the least amount of pressure on the vertebrae and discs of the spine.
• Sleeping on your side. The side position, with your torso straight and legs stretched, keeps your spine elongated and unstressed. If you tend to wake up with back and neck pain, try this position. After a few days, you’ll notice a positive change in how you feel in the morning. It’s also a good choice if you snore or have sleep apnea because it helps keep your airway open.
• Sleeping in the fetal position. Curling up on your side, as babies and small children do, is a great sleeping position. With your torso and legs bent, you’re putting as little stress as possible on your spine while you sleep. It’s also ideal for reducing snoring and preventing acid reflux. The drawback, however, is that it can be tough on the joints if you have arthritic hips or spinal stenosis. You might wake up feeling stiff and sore. Put a pillow between your knees to reduce the risk of lower back pain or stiffness.
• Sleeping on your stomach. Ordinarily, I tell patients to sleep in whichever position is most comfortable for them. One exception is sleeping on your stomach. This position puts a lot of pressure on the back and neck. Because you have to turn your head to one side to breathe, you’ll likely wake up with a sore neck and shoulder muscles; you might even wake with numbness and tingling in your arms. Sleeping on your stomach also puts a lot of pressure on the lumbar (lower) spine, so you could wake up with lower back pain. If you’re a stomach sleeper, I suggest altering your sleeping habits and choosing one of the three above positions instead.
4. Put your devices away. At bedtime, your electronic devices can lead to unwanted alertness due to changes in your eyes and brain, as well as the suppression of melatonin by the bright light emanating from screens. These physical reactions ultimately lead to sleeplessness.
As a rule of thumb for getting better sleep, I recommend turning off your electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to heading to bed. Rather than scrolling through social media or camping out with Netflix, do something that doesn’t involve exposure to a screen, like meditating or reading a book.
Does making changes to your sleeping habits sound daunting? Then start small. Choose one action to incorporate into your routine tonight, and then make gradual changes as the nights continue on.
In no time, you’ll be sleeping soundly on a regular basis and wondering why you didn’t make sleep a priority sooner.
For more information about Dr. Silverman, please visit www.drrobertsilverman.com or Facebook.com/drrobertsilverman.
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.