Are you sleeping right?
Sleep plays a big role in our lives. An average person spends approximately six to eight hours sleeping0 each day- which is one-third of their lives.While people take care when choosing ergonomic chairs for sitting today, most of us fail to take care to choose the right mattress to give our backs the required support while sleeping. Thus, the right mattress and posture while sleeping is critical to one’s overall wellbeing.
Issues that arise from incorrect sleeping postures
Did you know you that poor posture while sleeping is one of the primary causes for spine issues like back pain? When you sleep oddly, there is an added and unwelcome pressure on your back, neck, and hips which can lead to prolonged pain and uneasiness.
The ideal sleeping posture is one that gives the best support to the body and has minimal muscular energy expenditure for the posture to be sustained. The body is best relaxed in such a posture which is good for inducing sound sleep. We all know that during the day, the spine takes the load of the body when upright. The spinal extensors or anti-gravity muscles work relentlessly throughout the day, against gravity to move us around. So we must minimise its muscular activity in sleep- which can be achieved by giving proper support to the spine.
Understanding the right posture to give you the sleep you need:
Our body weight is concentrated in the vicinity of the sacral area or the upper pelvic area. The next major weight transferring area is the chest or the torso. In between the two, comes the highly mobile lumbar area, where low back pain is mostly experienced. This area is prone to sagging if the above two areas are not supported well. Therefore, it is important that we choose an orthopaedic certified mattress which provides graded support to the above areas for right spinal alignment to be achieved.
The other areas, viz. the head and neck area and thigh to leg area transfers less weight compared to the chest to pelvic area. Therefore, density and flexibility of the torso and pelvic area of the mattress plays a crucial role. It is a similar case when lying on the back or on the sides as the weight transferred per surface area is more in these common sleep postures. So, a high resilient mattress for these two areas minimises sagging and ensures proper spine support.
Understanding the right mattress to give you the sleep you need:
A simple way to observe this is -the spine comes in a horizontal line from shoulder to waist when lying on the back; and neck to lower back when lying on the sides. You will notice that your normal spinal curve in the lower back [lumbar area] is maintained whether you lie on your back or if the sides of the mattress have graded support along the length of the spine. This is essential for posture correction in a lying position.
The next question would be – would such a sturdy mattress be hard and uncomfortable? The answer is- there are mattresses that have a top thin, soft layer with low resilience made up of memory foam. This gives soft cushioning to the bony prominences where the skin comes into contact, so that we have a soothing soft feel. The layer on top also should not get heated up and should be breathable, so that we feel cosy to lie down.
Need of the hour
So, while every individual is different and keeps themselves busy doing different activities throughout the day, we all need to give our body a tiny vacation which is sleep. And it is important that you sleep in the right posture and give your spine the right support with a quality mattress to ensure a good night’s rest. After all, the quality of your sleep directly affects your mental and physical health, and thus affects the quality of your life.
This article is authored by Dr. Tiji Mathew Thomas PT, Senior Consultant Physiotherapist, KPMM Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Centre