Have you ever had trouble falling asleep? You’re not alone. When surveyed by Consumer Reports, 68% of adults in the U.S. had sleep trouble at least once a week, and 27% said they struggled to fall asleep or stay asleep most nights.
Even when achieving the recommended number of hours asleep in a night, 35% of U.S. adults report the quality of their sleep as being “poor” or “fair.” Sleep, a time when the body should be at its most restful state, often leaves people feeling more tired than before.
Multiple studies have connected poor sleep habits to poor health and lower quality of life. Sleep is a vital gauge to an overall picture of health. Groups were poor sleep quality generally make less money and have higher levels of stress.
Do you struggle with sleep at night? If so, we’re here to help.
Some common troubles people experience are headaches, insomnia, snoring, leg cramps, sleep apnea, or pain in the shoulders, back, neck, and tailbone. Some people report trouble falling asleep, and some even report problems waking back up! Regardless of your problem, we’re going to help you.
Some of these problems can be solved with simple tricks. You’ll be amazed at how much some minor changes can improve the overall quality of sleep, and by extension, your overall quality of life.
- Leg Cramps
- Sleep Apnea
Headaches are a common sleep problem. People who don’t experience headaches often might be surprised at how many various headache types there are. People with chronic headaches usually have an increased incidence in sleep disturbance.
Researchers have found that there is a direct relationship between the number of REM cycles that a person experiences in a night and migraine headaches, and even more significantly between REM sleep and cluster headaches. REM sleep is the dreaming stage of sleep, which typically happens 4-6 times a night.
Tension headaches, migraine headaches, and cluster headaches are the most common types of headaches affected by sleep.
Tension headaches are quite literally caused by muscle tension. This can be tension caused by physical factors, such as bad posture, or by emotional and mental ones. Tension headaches are often caused by stress, but can also be brought on by things like lack of sleep.
Tension headaches are self-explanatory: pressure, tightness, or a dull pain around your forehead, the back of your head, or your neck. They last from 30 minutes to a few days, usually starting gradually, often in the middle of the day.
If tension headaches are affecting your sleep, there are several things you can do. If you can identify the cause of your tension, you’ll go a long way to finding your solution, but you can try a variety of things even if you aren’t sure.
- The key to beating your tension headache while you sleep is figuring out how to relax as you go to bed. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help relax tight muscles.
- Many people don’t realize how important a high-quality pillow is for a good night’s rest. A bad pillow can cause strain on your neck even if you don’t realize it. Check out our article on the best pillow for neck pain and headaches to help select your next pillow.
- Managing your stress and learning to relax can help prevent teeth grinding, but if you suffer from chronic bruxism you should seek a consultation with your doctor.
- Some over the counter pain relievers can help with tension headaches, in fact, they are usually the first thing a doctor recommends. If you pursue this route, be sure to follow all the instructions.
- As alternatives to medication, you can try home remedies, like a hot bath to soothe muscles, ice packs for pain, or correcting your posture. Learning to manage your stress will also help you gain the upper hand on your tension headaches.
Migraine headaches plague 13% of the adult population. Although migraines and tension headaches are distinctly different types of pain, they do have some of the same triggers, and can be managed in some of the same ways.
One of the most commonly reported headache triggers amongst people with migraines and tension headaches is irregular sleep: sleep deprivation, oversleeping, or disturbed and interrupted sleep. Researchers believe that fluctuations in serotonin and other brain neurotransmitters occur during sleep, which influence the onset or aggravation of head pain.
Migraines can also cause muscle weakness and blurred vision, as well as nausea or vomiting.
If someone prone to migraines or tension headaches sleeps later than normal, it might aggravate their head pain. Many people who suffer from these types of headaches tend to think that naps will help a sudden onset of a headache, but most adults find that napping triggers headaches. Finding the balance between the appropriate amount of sleep can be a challenging task, but frequent naps can reduce the quality of sleep at night, which may result in a morning headache.
People who experience these types of headaches should try to restrict their naps, and use their daytime hours for activities and their nighttime hours for sleep. Try coming up with a schedule and sticking it to for at least a few weeks, and see if the frequency of your migraines lower.
Scientists have found a correlation between cluster headaches and REM sleep. It appears that people who suffer from cluster headaches experience a decrease in oxygen during the night that causes the headache – likely connected to the symptom of nasal stuffiness, blocking off the flow of oxygen. A considerable number of these attacks occur in the last two to three hours of sleep.
Cluster headaches are one-sided headaches that cause severe pain on either the left or right side of your head. They are usually accompanied by nasal stuffiness and eye tearing and frequently occur at night.
Preventing cluster headaches is a little more difficult than the other two. Like migraines and tension headaches, maintaining a regular sleep schedule is paramount. If you feel a cluster headache coming on, avoid or minimize your alcohol intake. Alcohol consumption restricts your blood vessels, and as the blood flow to the brain changes, so does the amount of oxygen your brain receives, which can trigger a cluster headache.
Research connecting sleep and headaches is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: maintaining a regular sleep schedule should be your first step towards minimizing sleep-related headaches, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling night’s sleep. Don’t forget to avoid afternoon naps!
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for people to fall asleep or to stay asleep. Many adults experience acute insomnia at some time in their lives, lasting for a few days or weeks, usually the result of stress or a traumatic event. But some people have chronic insomnia, lasting for more than a month. Insomnia is often a symptom of a different problem, such as illness or lifestyle choices.
A common cause of insomnia is a disruption in natural circadian rhythm. Very person has their own unique circadian rhythm. Basically, it’s a 24-hour internal clock that constantly runs in your brain and cycles between alertness and sleepiness at regular intervals. It is known as your sleep/wake cycle.
A disruption in your circadian rhythm can come from a variety of things like changes in your job shift, environmental noises, extreme temperatures, high altitudes, or jet lag.
Insomnia can also be caused by certain medical conditions such as asthma, arthritis, brain lesions, cancer, stroke, angina, and other chronic conditions and diseases. If your insomnia is caused by any of these things, then you should consult your doctor about the best way to combat it.
Like the above medical conditions, some psychological episodes can also cause insomnia. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorders can cause insomnia. Again, consult your doctor about treating your insomnia if you believe it is connected to any of these conditions.
Some external factors that cause insomnia are genetic conditions, pregnancy, an overactive mind, parasites, or sleeping next to someone who snores.
A more recent cause of insomnia is technology use. Modern technology like cell phones, tablets, and televisions emit blue light. Blue light is one of the shortest, highest energy wavelengths in the light spectrum visible to the human eye.
Think about the way that humans lived before modern technology, even before electricity. Human beings lived without electricity significantly longer than they have lived with it.
Before electricity, the sun was the primary source of light for humans. When the sun set, or before it rose, they relied on candle light or other forms of fire to see. As the sun sets, your body begins to create melatonin and continues throughout the night, dropping off in the early morning.
Melatonin helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Without melatonin, your body struggles to go to sleep.
Light directly impacts your melatonin production. So, before our current technology, melatonin production was based almost solely on the sun. Our current lamps and light bulbs are much brighter, emulating the sun, and can inhibit some melatonin production.
But blue light is a much bigger threat to melatonin production. Blue light is much brighter. If someone is constantly surrounded by blue light, especially later into the night, their brain might not produce melatonin until much, much later, if at all.
Insomnia can have many triggers, and it’s important to identify the cause of your insomnia to solve it.
Insomnia is a serious problem. When people are unable to sleep, they usually wake up still feeling tired. Insomnia can affect your work or school performance. Research has associated insomnia with a higher risk of developing chronic diseases. Insomnia is linked to an increased chance of obesity, irritability, concentration problems, depression, anxiety, poor immune function, reduced reaction time, and memory problems.
If you are typically surrounded by digital technology, there are some steps you can take to see if this is causing your insomnia. A couple hours before you go to bed, turn off any unnecessary lights. Make your environment as dark as possible while still being comfortable – there’s no need to be in complete darkness, just minimize the light.
No less than an hour before you’re going to bed, turn off all laptops and televisions, and put away your tablets and phones. You can use your phone to do tasks like set an alarm, but don’t stare it and don’t use it for more than a minute or two.
The last hour or so before you go to bed, try to use the light of just one lamp. This should minimize the bright light enough for your brain to produce a normal amount of melatonin.
Repeat this process for at least a week and see if it improves your sleep and cures your insomnia. You can try taking melatonin supplements, but most medical professionals agree that you should first try to minimize the bright light in your surroundings before you turn to supplements.
Besides a dedicated sleep schedule, establishing a bedtime routine can help get your body used to the process of falling asleep. Try adding things that you can do consistently that are relaxing and avoid blue light. You can take a relaxing walk, practice relaxation exercises, or take a warm bath.
If you suffer from night sweats, our list of cooling pillows might help you choose a better pillow for you needs.
If environmental factors contribute to your insomnia, try a white noise machine to block out excess noise. There are multiple white noise apps that can be downloaded onto your electronic devices.
Try to get plenty of exercise during the day. The more energy that you expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at night. Multiple studies have shown that people who are physically active get better sleep at night. Aim for at least 45 minutes of aerobic activity each day.
Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake, especially in the evening, and avoid eating large meals late in the day.
A few homeopathic methods that people say have worked for them are a warm drink before bed, listening to music on a low volume (like a white noise machine, as mentioned above) , and smelling or diffusing lavender essential oil to reduce anxiety and ease insomnia.
While these are all excellent methods to try, don’t hesitate to seek some help from your doctor, especially if these methods don’t work.
Everyone can relate the fear of being kept awake by the sound of a roaring snore – but did you know that your own snoring can keep you awake as well?
Snoring is the sound of tissues in your nose and throat vibrating when air can’t move freely around. People who snore often usually have too much throat and nasal tissue that is more prone to vibrate. Your tongue’s position can also impede your breathing.
More specifically, when you sleep the muscles of your throat relax and your tongue falls backwards. Your throat becomes narrower and “floppy.” While you breathe, the walls begin to vibrate. The narrower your airway, the greater the vibration and the louder you snore.
Snoring decreases the quality of your sleep, not to mention the quality of sleep of anyone sleeping near you. Snoring can lead to a sleep apnea, which we’ll discuss later, and can also contribute to insomnia.
Apnea aside, there are a handful of common causes of snoring. The first is age; your throat becomes narrower as you get older, and your muscle tone decreases. Being overweight, or even just carrying excess weight in your neck and throat area, can cause snoring.
Ever noticed that more men seem to snore than women? That’s because men have narrower air passages than woman. There are some hereditary attributes that contribute to snoring, like a narrow throat, enlarged adenoids, and a cleft palate.
This may seem obvious, but stuffy noses and blocked airways make it difficult to inhale and create a vacuum in the throat, which leads to snoring. Alcohol, medications, and smoking can increase muscle relaxation, which also leads to snoring. Finally, your sleep posture can affect your snoring. Sleeping flat on your back causes the skin around your throat to relax and block the airway.
It’s important that you rule out any serious causes of snoring. Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder in which your breathing is interrupted many times during the night. Sleep apnea interferes with your quality of sleep more significantly than normal snoring, so if you suffer from extreme fatigue during the day, it might be an indicator of sleep apnea.
If you or anyone sleeping near or with you has noticed that you snore loudly and heavily, and are tired during the day, that you fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during conversations or meals, or you stop breathing, gasp, or choke during the sleep, consult a doctor immediately.
If your snoring was caused by something like age, you may think that you don’t have any options to prevent your snoring, but never fear! We have some suggestions for everyone.
- Pop culture shows the depiction of nasal strips in just about every sitcom airing today, making them a tempting option to try, but don’t be fooled, they rarely work. If your nasal passages are severe enough to cause snoring, it’s unlikely that a sticky strip will work deeply enough to solve any problems. It might make the snoring sound a little softer, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
- For people who have excessive neck tissue, losing weight is an option that might help with snoring, removing some of the tissue that restricts the airway.
- As we earlier mentioned, consuming alcohol constricts the blood vessels and prevents the flow of oxygen along its normal path. Well, alcohol also relaxes your throat muscles, keeping the airways more open and exacerbating any snoring problems.
- If your snoring is due to congestion or allergies, a humidifier might help your problem. It’s unlikely to solve a serious snoring problem, but for an occasional snorer this can be the key to peace. Certain essential oils have also been shown to help clear out airways, peppermint and eucalyptus are popular remedies. Alternatively, you can try Vick’s vapor rub.
- There are other solutions for a stuffy nose as well, like trying a neti pot. If you suffer from allergies, reduce the dust mite and pet dander in your bedroom by washing your linens, vacuuming thoroughly, and replacing your pillows.
- But the most tried and true method for preventing snoring is both simple and difficult; changing your sleeping position. This is especially relevant for people whose physical attributes or age have caused their snoring. Elevating your head as few as four inches may ease your breathing while encouraging your jaw and tongue to move forward.
- But the most tried and true method for preventing snoring is both simple and difficult; changing your sleeping position. This is especially relevant for people whose physical attributes or age have caused their snoring. Elevating your head as few as four inches may ease your breathing while encouraging your jaw and tongue to move forward.
- Most importantly, try sleeping on your side instead of your back. Lying on your back makes the base of our tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat. Sleeping on your side can prevent this.
- Many people find this an easier transition with the assistant of a full-length or body pillow that helps support your back while sleeping on your side. Our article featuring the benefits of bamboo pillows includes an excellent body pillow that you can try.
- Some research shows that consuming large meals or certain food like dairy or soymilk close to bed can exacerbate snoring. Smoking can also make snoring worse. Exercise, even without weight loss, can help tone various muscles in your body that leads to toning your throat muscles, which in turns lessens your snoring.
Nocturnal leg cramps are an overlooked cause of sleep problems. These cramps usually happen in calf muscles, but may also happen in the thighs or feet. Sometimes it’s called a charley horse, but usually the cramps are a sudden spasm or tightening.
Cramps occur for a reasoning, but it’s not always easy to know what the reason is. The nocturnal leg cramps are more likely to occur in people over 50 and pregnant women. Sometimes they happen from exercising or overuse of muscles, or when you’ve been exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
Dehydration can cause cramps, as can a lack of certain minerals like calcium or potassium (hence the reason why nocturnal leg cramps are more likely to happen to pregnant women). Sometimes standing on a firm surface for an extended period of time, sitting for a long time, or just having your legs in an awkward position while you sleep can cause the cramps.
So, what happens if you awaken in the night with shooting pain? Immediately try to forcefully stretch the muscle in the opposite direction. Walking around or massaging your leg can also help. Walking signals to your muscle that it needs to contract and relax, basically hitting the muscle’s reset button.
There are some preventative measures you can during the day if nocturnal leg cramps occur on a regular basis. Gently stretch your legs before you go to sleep. Keep your sheets and blankets loose around your feet so that your toes are not distorted.
Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, and ensure that you have properly fitting shoes. Also try taking a warm bath or showing to relax the muscles. Alternatively, a heating pad to the affected muscle can help. Some doctors recommend taking over-the-counter medicine such as Tylenol or Advil – be sure to follow all the instructions.
If none of this works, consult your doctor. You might need to take a mineral supplement, or be prescribed a stronger medication.
Earlier, we mentioned that sleep apnea can be a serious problem, sometimes confused with normal snoring. People with sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly while they sleep, usually depriving their brain of oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two forms, caused by a blockage in the airway, usually from the soft tissue in the back of the throat that has collapsed while you sleep.
If you suffer from central sleep apnea, the issue is not your airway, but your brain. Due to instability in the respiratory control center, your brain doesn’t signal your muscles to breathe.
Though anyone can suffer from sleep apnea, some of the risk factors include being male, over 40, overweight, and having a large neck size. People with large tonsils, tongues, or small jaw bones are also more likely to have sleep apnea. Nasal obstructions due to sinus problems, allergies, or a deviated septum also increase your chances of having sleep apnea, as does a family history that includes sleep apnea.
Left untreated, sleep apnea has many significant health problems. High blood pressure, diabetes, depression, headaches, stroke, or the worsening of ADHD are all possible outcomes, as is heart failure, irregular heartbeats, or heart attacks.
Sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose. It won’t show up in a routine office visit, or through labs.
You might suffer from sleep apnea if you wake up with a dry or sore throat, experience restless sleep or morning headaches, are sleepy while you drive or have a lack of energy during the day, or have recurring insomnia. If you have forgetfulness, mood changes, or a decreased interest in sex, or if you occasionally wake up with a choking or gasping sensation, you likely suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is not something to take lightly. Consult a doctor immediately.
In preparation for your visit, ask your doctor if there are any pre-appointment restrictions, such as diet modifications. Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing, that either your or your sleep partner have noticed. Make a list of all medications or vitamins that you’re taking.
To maximize your time with your doctor, take along someone familiar with your sleep patterns, if possible. Make a list of basic questions, including what kinds of tests you need, if they require preparation, which treatments would be best, how you can manage sleep apnea with any other conditions you may have, and if you should see a specialist.
Your doctor will likely ask you questions such as when you began experiencing these symptoms, if they’re continuous or sporadic, how severe the symptoms are, if you stop breathing at night, and if there’s anything that’s made your symptoms better or worse.
If your doctor thinks you have sleep apnea, they will likely refer you to a sleep disorder center to see a sleep specialist. A sleep specialist will usually perform an evaluation including overnight monitoring of your breathing and any other body functions while you sleep.
The most common diagnostic tool is a sleep apnea test called a polysomnogram. During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, brain, and lung activity, your limb movements, your blood oxygen levels, and your breathing patterns while you sleep. If you have sleep apnea, the test results will show drops in your oxygen level during apneas.
In some instances, a doctor can give you a home sleep test, which is a simplified version of the polysomnogram.
A sleep specialist will also try to determine if there are other factors causing your sleep problems or making them worse, like substance abuse, medication use, a medication condition, a mental health disorder, or another sleep disorder.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, the doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to rule out a blockage in your nose or throat. If you suffer from central sleep apnea, you may be evaluated by a cardiologist or neurologist for examinations in your heart and nervous system.
There are some adjustments you can make at home that might help your sleep apnea. Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and smoking. Change sleeping positions to improve your breathing, and specifically avoid sleeping on your back. You can also try losing weight. Your doctor may recommend some type of treatment for allergies, if they are a cause.
But most likely, your doctor will want to take some stronger measures for your sleep apnea. The most common is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or a CPAP machine. The machine delivers air pressure via a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. The mask is attached to a hose, which is attached to a machine at your bedside. The air pressure of a CPAP machine is greater than the surrounding air, enough to keep your airway passages open, preventing snoring and apnea.
CPAP is the first thing recommended for obstructive sleep apnea, it’s a very reliable method for treating sleep apnea. Despite this, some people find it uncomfortable. Though some give up on the idea of CPAP, many adjust over time.
If the original CPAP mask doesn’t work, you can opt to try a different one. Check with your doctor to see how you can modify the CPAP without giving up on it.
There are some other airway pressure devices that might be a better fit for it, if a CPAP doesn’t work. One type of device, called an Auto-CPAP, automatically adjusts the pressure while you’re sleeping. A BiPAP provides more pressure when you inhale and less pressure when you exhale.
An expiratory positive airway pressure, or an EPAP, is a small, single-use device that is placed over each nostril before you go to sleep. The device is a valve. It allows air to move freely in, but upon exhaling, the air goes through small holes in the valve. Ultimately, it increases pressure in your airway to keep it open.
If you have a mild case of obstructive sleep apnea, an EPAP can help reduce snoring and daytime sleepiness.
Sleeping with CPAP can be uncomfortable. Check out our article about the best pillows for people with sleep apnea to see pillow options that help accommodate CPAP.
Another alternative to CPAP is oral appliance therapy. The appliance is a device that fits over your teeth while you sleep, resembling a retainer or mouth guard. This device holds your tongue in position or slides your jaw forward so that your airway can’t collapse and you can breathe while you sleep.
After you receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can fit you with an oral appliance. There are several devices available. Once you find the right fit, you need to follow-up with your dentist multiple times in the first year, and regularly after that, to ensure the fit is right and to reassess your symptoms. Oral appliance therapy is recommended for people who have mild to moderate apnea and cannot tolerate CPAP.
If CPAP and oral appliance therapy fail, there is another option, but it more serious and permanent, and you generally must undergo at least a three-month trial of treatment before a doctor will recommend surgery. But for people with certain jaw structure problems, surgery might be a good first option.
Sleep apnea surgery is designed to enlarge the airway through your nose and throat that may be blocking your upper air passages. Surgery options include tissue removal, jaw repositioning, implants, or creating a whole new passageway.
Tissue removal, also known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, is a procedure that removes soft tissue from the back of your throat and palate, increasing the width of the airway at the opening of the throat. Usually, your tonsils and adenoids are removed as well. This surgery may successfully stop throat structures from vibrating and causing snoring, but it is less effective than CPAP and isn’t considered a reliable treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
Jaw repositioning, also known as mandibular maxillar advancement surgery, moves your jaw forward from the remainder of your face bones. This enlarges the space behind the soft palate and the tongue, making obstruction less likely.
For people who can’t use CPAP, a minimally invasive implant called Inspire is available. Inspire is an upper airway stimulator with a pulse generator placed under the skin of the upper chest, after a local anesthetic is applied. One wire leads to the lung, detecting the person’s natural breathing pattern, and the other leads to the neck, delivering a mild stimulation to nerves that control airway muscles and keeps them open.
Inspire can be programmed with an external remote. Patients with Inspire use the remote to turn it on before bed, and turn it off when they wake up.
This was an overview of the process of diagnosing and treating sleep apneas. Remember, if you think you have sleep apnea, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.
A common cause of sleep problems is pain. It’s difficult to relax when plagued by pain. We’ll address some of the types of pain that are most likely to impede sleep.
Shoulder pain is often caused by soreness in the tendon of your rotator cuff. Your rotator cuff helps move your shoulder in a circular motion. There is a sac of fluid under the highest part of your shoulder called the subacromial bursa which can also become sore.
The tendon in your rotator cuff travels under the bone on the outside of the shoulder. This position makes it easily injured because when it becomes inflamed, it becomes pinched between the bones. This can also damage the sac of fluid cushioning the tendon.
Rotator cuff pain is usually in the front or outside of your shoulder, and worsens when you raise your arm, or lift something above your head. Pain at night is common and can be enough to wake you.
Prevent additional straining of your muscle and tendon further by avoiding lifting heavy objects or playing tennis. Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can also help lower the inflammation.
Although rotator cuff injuries are painful, you want to avoid complete immobilization of your shoulder. Bend over and move your shoulder in large circles to avoid frozen shoulder. After some time, add light dumbbells to this exercise.
If your injury lasts for an extended period of time, or when you notice weakness in certain arm motions, it’s time to see a doctor. Don’t put this off, you want to avoid tearing your rotator cuff entirely.
In the meantime, ice your shoulder after injury to keep inflammation down. Keep ice on it for 15-20 minutes throughout the day for several days. Limit your activities as much as possible, don’t overdo it. You can also compress the area with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling.
Find a comfortable position in your bed that doesn’t strain your shoulder or put undue pressure on it. Relax, and try to sleep without tossing and turning.
A good bamboo pillows can help support your shoulder and keep it still while you sleep.Depending on the location of your shoulder pain, even just laying on your back might cause discomfort. While recovering from your injury, try sleeping on your side to keep pressure off of your shoulder.
Neck pain can be a complicated soreness to tackle. Neck pain can be caused by things as serious as tumors, degenerative diseases, and trauma, or as simple as poor posture or muscle strain.
Obviously, tumors and degenerative diseases need to be treated by a doctor, but we have some wonderful tips for muscle strain and poor posture.
The most essential element for treating neck pain is finding the right pillow. We have an article dedicated specifically to neck pain that may be helpful for selecting the correct pillow.
You need a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck, not one that shoves your neck into an unnatural position. This also keeps your spine in a neutral alignment. If your pillow is too high or too low it will strain your neck.
Many people notice relief from neck pain when they use a flat pillow or an orthopedic pillow that has a depression for your head and extra support for your neck. Sleeping on your back is usually the best position for resting your spine. Some people like to place a pillow under each arm, taking some of the strain of the neck.
Feather pills conform more easily to shape of your neck and can be extremely comfortable, but collapse easily and should be replaced every year or so.
If you prefer sleeping on your side, you need a thicker pillow than back sleepers to make sure your neck and head are positioned in the middle of your shoulders. Your height and the width of your shoulders will help you determine the kind of pillow you should buy.
There are a lot of contributing factors to neck pain that you can control during the day. Make sure your computer monitor is at eye level. This basic adjustment can make an enormous difference. If you must angle your head downward to see your screen, then you will spend hours of your day straining your neck without realizing it.
Another way to avoid unnecessary neck strain includes not looking down at your phone too often. And if you talk on the phone frequently use a headset instead of tilting your neck to cradle the phone.
And finally, try to maintain supportive posture throughout the day. Most people suffering from neck pain slant their neck forward and place their head in front of their shoulders. For every inch the head shifts forward, an extra ten pounds is added to the muscles in your upper back and neck. A mere five-inch forward shift results in an extra fifty pounds of force.
Pay attention throughout the day. Move your head and neck back so they’re directly above your shoulders instead of ahead of them.
Most of the ailments we have addressed in this article recommend sleeping on your back over any other position. Back pain is the rare exception to this. While back pain can afflict people in different ways, and there is no “one size fits all” method, people with back pain typically sleep better on their sides.
Although there are many types of back pain, the most common cause of lower back pain is a pulled muscle, when a muscle in your lower back is strained or torn.
Regardless of how you like to sleep, it’s important to know where to place your pillow. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees to help your spine to maintain its natural curve. If you sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis to ease strain. And if you sleep on your side, draw your legs up slightly toward your chest, and sleep with a pillow between your knees.
Especially for side sleepers, a full body pillow can be extremely comfortable.
Avoid sleeping in a tight, fetal position, with your knees pulled in towards your body; try to keep your body slightly elongated. Find a head pillow that keeps your head midway between your shoulders.
If you’ve pulled a muscle, avoid heat for at least 48 hours, but after that low-level heat can sometimes alleviate pain. Disposable heat wraps can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
More so than any other pain, a good mattress is imperative for treating back pain. Avoid a sagging mattress, which will play additional strain on your spine. Your mattress should support the curve of your spine. Consider purchasing one from a store that lets you return your mattress if it isn’t a good fit.
Tailbone pressure is a very specific type of pain your back. It refers to a persistent pain at the bottom of your spine. Tailbone pain can come from a sudden force, like from an injury, or from excess pressure which may be caused if you sit on a hard chair for extended periods of time.
While seated, women’s hips are typically tilted forward, making women more likely to bear weight on their tailbones while they sit, and more likely to injure their tailbone if they fall. Because of this, tailbone pain is more prevalent in women.
It’s possible to go through the day without realizing the pressure you’re putting on your tailbone. Then, when you get into bed, a burning soreness radiates from your tailbone and makes it impossible to get comfortable, let alone fall asleep.
The first step is to try and identify when you’re putting pressure on your tailbone. If you feel pain when you rise from a seat, or feel relief from pain when you sit on your legs, you’re probably putting undue pressure on your tailbone.
To prevent tailbone pain, you should first observe your posture. Poor posture likely contributes to your tailbone pain. Sit upright, engage your core, straighten your neck and slightly arch your back. You may also need to adjust your sleeping position, likely you’ll feel better sleeping on your side. Follow the tips from above, and make sure you correctly place your pillow if you sleep on your side.
If your tailbone pain comes primarily from how long you sit in a chair, there are a few things you can do. Try to institute regular walks, even just for five or ten minutes. A group jaunt around the office will provide some much-needed relief.
You can also try sitting on a cushion. Special cushions with the section under the tailbone cut out are specially designed for people with tailbone pain. We have an article that gives excellent direction for choosing a cushion to relieve tailbone pain.
If all else fails, consult a doctor!
This article has provided you with a plethora of tips for tackling your sleep issues. Be it insomnia, headaches, snoring, or pain, this article should help you on your journey to get a better night’s sleep. Good luck!