While I would not call myself a sleep expert, I do like to give my patients tips on how they can improve their sleep. Sleep is an important part of the healing process, making sure you get enough sleep especially when you are injured can help you start feeling better.
Sleep Tip Number 1:
Your sleep cycle should be the same every day. That is how we are naturally wired. We start to throw our sleep cycles off when we wake up and go to sleep at different times throughout the week. If you go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day your body will learn the cycle and get used to it. It will be easier to fall asleep and you will be more likely to get a better night’s sleep. Your body will become used to being in different sleep cycles at different times throughout the night. You will be more likely to enter the deeper stages of sleep faster and then when it comes time to wake up you will be more likely to be in the shallower stages of sleep. This makes your sleep more restful and easier to get up from. A great way to get in the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is to use an alarm for both times. Set an alarm for 30 minutes before bed and when that alarm goes off stop whatever you are doing and get ready for bed. Then, of course, have an alarm in the morning to help you get up at the same time every day. As your sleep cycle starts to become regulated you will then find that you can wake up at the same time every day without even using the morning alarm clock.
Sleep Tip Number 2:
Sleeping on your stomach can cause or contribute to neck pain. When you sleep on your stomach you are forced to turn your head one way or the other. What this does, is it holds the neck in a position where the muscles on one side are all being shortened, while the muscles on the other side are all being elongated. This can cause neck pain from the muscular imbalance.
Ideally sleeping on your side or your back is going to be better for not just your neck but your whole body. Sleeping in a position that allows for the muscles to relax should help you get a more restful and restorative slumber.
Sleep Tip Number 3:
Make sure you have a mattress and pillow that support the position you sleep in. Deciding whether you want a firm mattress or a soft mattress is somewhat of a personal decision. As long as the mattress provides the right support for your body it should not make a difference how soft or firm the mattress is. Finding the right mattress for your body type can be difficult. I recommend reading as many reviews online as you can about the mattresses you are interested in purchasing. Some mattresses even have trial periods you can take advantage of.
Sleep Tip Number 4:
Get between 7-9 hours of sleep. The amount of sleep that someone requires fluctuates from person to person, but on average 7-9 hours of sleep is what you should aim for.