Published on March 10, 2016
It’s Sleep Awareness Week, and quality of sleep is often one of the most overlooked factors that can affect ones health and performance. Many factors such as neck and back pain, chronic pain, weight gain, decreased performance, diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic problems are affected by poor quality sleep. Our bodies are designed to regenerate, heal and hormonally re-balance during our required seven hours of sleep per night. Furthermore, good mental health can be attributed to having a good night’s sleep. Many people often look at the need for sleep a sign of weakness; however, what most don’t realize, is that our minds and bodies will not become stronger if we do not sleep a minimum of seven hours per night.
Quality sleep involves many components, but having a solid foundation to sleep on is extremely important. It is vital to ensure that our spines are well supported and comfortable, in order for you to be able to unwind and begin to meditate into a deep sleep. I often recommend the ObusForme contour pillow, which provides great spinal support. It contours the natural curvatures of the spine, which we want to be maintained while we sleep. It prevents kinking of the spine, which is important as this could lead to neuro-musculoskeletal pain when getting up in the morning.
Mattresses and pillows wear down and need to be replaced every five to ten years. This ensures that we are getting the support that our neuro-musculoskeletal system requires. Remember, our ancestors most likely used to sleep on the earth, which would provide a great deal of support and proprioceptive feedback to the body. A worn-out mattress or pillow is not supportive and can be the source of pain in the neck and back. Lack of spinal support will cause your spine to bend to one side and into a position in which the spinal joints are being pushed together becoming irritated and possibly inflamed potentially causing nerves will be impinged. Maintaining proper posture by having a supportive mattress and pillow may also prevent snoring, restlessness, improve breathing and the ability to easily fall asleep.
REM sleep stands for “rapid eye movement” and is considered the deep sleep cycle that is crucial to our bodies homeostatic state. Achieving quality REM is by ensuring proper sleep hygiene and having a regular routine. Make your sleep a priority today, and start the following routine to enhance your health and well-being:
- Exercise regularly in the morning or at some point before 4pm.
- Focus on good quality nutrition that eliminates processed foods and refined foods. Avoid alcohol.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day and stop drinking excessive fluids prior to 1-2 hours before bed
- Eliminate bright lights, television, iPads, phones, etc. an hour before bed.
- Consume approximately 20 grams of good quality protein about 30 to 60 minutes before going to sleep.
- Ensure the room you are going to be sleeping in is cool as this helps to enhance your sleeping pattern.
- Wear comfortable clothing that keeps you cool at night.
- Try reading a book that is totally different that your work material, 30 minutes before going to bed to distract your mind from the stresses of work and life.
- Make sure the room you will be sleeping in is completely dark and all natural light is completely covered up.
- Prior to sleeping, lie flat on your back with your neck supported by an ObusForme contour pillow, and begin meditating by doing deep abdominal breathing inhaling in through your nose, ensuring your belly is rising and exhaling through your mouth.