“Dr. Smith, I have been having a really hard time sleeping lately. What can I do?”

Dr. Smith, I have been having a really hard time sleeping lately. What can I do?!”

~Emily J.

According to the American Chiropractic Association, surveys show that between 40 and 60 percent of the population has trouble sleeping. Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our bodies. It’s a way to recharge, renew, and regenerate for the next day’s stresses and demands. Sleep is how the body mends from all the things we’ve put it through during the day.

 

Experts suggest the following tips:

  1. Exercise regularly—morning is best, but if it’s only possible during the evening, make sure it’s two to three hours before bedtime.
  2. Limit caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and before bedtime.
  3. Eat dinner before 6 pm as digestion can interfere with sleep.
  4. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up the same time each morning to help your body know when it’s time to rest.
  5. Keep your bedroom comfortably cool and as dark as possible when you’re ready for bed.

 

Along with these tips, don’t forget to take a look at your mattress and pillow. Does your mattress provide adequate support or do you have gaps between your body and your mattress at the waist? Do you turn your mattress clockwise or upside down every few months to reduce wear and tear and body indentations are kept at a minimum? Have you recently lost or gained a significant amount of weight? If so, it may be time for a new mattress.

 

As for your pillow, a good one should keep the spinal bones in your neck aligned with the spinal bones of the mid and low back if you’re a side sleeper. Side sleepers that find they have to prop a hand or elbow under their pillow should find a firmer pillow that adequately support the head and neck. If you sleep on your back, your pillow should not cause your neck to be propped up or angled away from your body. Choose a pillow that is firm because mushy foam materials tend to displace the weight of the head and provide less support. As a rule, sleeping on your stomach is discouraged so try to avoid that position as much as possible. Last but not least, a pillow is not one size fits all. Make sure it fits your particular body type and size.

 

Sleep is so important for ensuring the body functions efficiently. Lack of a bedtime routine, a mattress with support, and the wrong pillow can greatly affect your sleep patterns. Try the tips and watch how well your body responds to a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams!