Poor body alignment and an inappropriate mattress may stop you from enjoying deep, restorative sleep. Sleep ergonomics can assist you to improve your sleep quantity and sleep quality. Read on to find out more about this.
How well your body is adjusted during sleep is, in essence, a strange, yet a very serious, question. It is a strange question because common sense dictates that any position in which you are able to sleep comfortably is a good one for you.
Yet, it is an essential question on two counts: the position you are comfortable sleeping in may stop your body from realigning itself, and misalignment can create various health issues in the long run.
Besides other things, misalignment can create or worsen back pain and influence both the quality and quantity of your sleep. Sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality, in turn, can affect your physical and psychological health.
Why do we get comfortable with an incorrect sleeping posture?
A comfortable sleeping position may not be forever a perfect one, but why do we get content with an improper sleeping posture in the first place? The answer lies in the basic nature of the human body.
The human body, as you can see, is very adaptive. It automatically adapts itself to counter any misalignment. If your body is not adjusted properly, it will position itself in such a way as to showcase any prevailing misalignment.
Importance of alignment when we sleep
Here’s one test question for you: do you usually experience daytime sleepiness, headache, fatigue, and/or lack of focus after a night’s sleep?
If yes, chances are your body is poorly adjusted during sleep.
To be more specific, you may be breathing shallowly throughout sleep. There is a clear and strong relationship within body alignment and breathing and sleep quality.
Structural imbalance in the body influences breathing, which, in turn, affects sleep quality. When our spine is in its original position – a position in which the neck (cervical), middle back (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar) are in good alignment – our lungs are ready to hold more oxygen. Sufficient intake of oxygen during sleep facilitates smooth functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which produces and supports relaxation.
On the other hand, reduced oxygen intake produces an excess production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline, which stops the body from relaxing. Right body alignment during sleep also promotes proper blood circulation throughout the body and relieves joint pain, both of which assist you get a good night’s sleep.
In whatever position you sleep, it is crucial that you maintain a ‘spine-neutral’ position (neutral spine position is the same as the spine’s natural position).
The mattress you sleep on has a large influence on your structural balance. If the mattress is not suitable, it can create, mask, and/or worsen structural imbalances, which can be harmful to good sleep. It can also point to health conditions such as sleep apnea and back pain.
Hard Mattress vs. Soft Mattress
Some say a hard mattress is better than a soft mattress, some say a soft mattress is better, and some say whichever type of mattress you are satisfied with is the best one for you.
Nevertheless, it is now thought that it’s not only the firmness of the mattress but its capacity to support the right parts of your body accurately. Proper alignment is critical to the prevention of tossing and turning which leads to sleep disruption. We put together a special web class that goes deeper into this…
Advantage of Hard Mattress
The new ergonomics of sleep prescribes that when it comes to mattresses, less is usually better. The less cushioning the mattress provides, the more it is prone to support or help a neutral-spine position during sleep.
According to the ergonomics of sleep, it is important that bones have some resistance for good sleep. When you lay down on a hard bed with a thin, hard mattress, your bones carries the most, if not all, of the pressure.
This, in turn, frees your muscles and supports your arteries and veins to relax. As a result, the blood circulation in the body changes, helping you sleep better. The other benefit of a hard mattress is that it stops your lower back from collapsing when you lay on it. This ensures that your airways are not compressed, permitting you to inhale more oxygen. Ample oxygen consumption, as we’ve seen already, is important for good sleep. Switching to a hard mattress after sleeping for many years on a soft mattress may not be simple.
You may feel a bit awkward during the first few nights. The feeling of discomfort usually disappears on its own within a few days. That said, people who have health issues like back pain, rheumatism, arthritis, weak capillaries, or scoliosis oughtn’t not go for a hard mattress.
Advantage of a soft mattress
A new study has pointed out that a soft mattress may be helpful to people with back problems, refusing the age-old idea that people with back issues need to sleep only on hard surfaces. Here are the details of the experimental study: In the study, Spanish researchers examined the effect of mattresses on 313 participants who had back pain. The participants were randomly separated into two groups.
One group was required to sleep on a firm mattress that had a softness rating of 2.3 out of 10. The other group was demanded to sleep on a medium-firm mattress that had a softness rating of 5.6. The continuation of the study was 90 days. The researchers evaluated the patients at the start of the study and upon the completion of the trial.
Patients were also asked to evaluate their condition on a daily basis and to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the intensity of pain they felt on rising from the bed, the power of pain while sleeping, and the level of discomfort, disability, or pain they experienced during the day on a scale of 1 to 10.
At the end of the study, all members experienced improvement in their condition. However, the members who slept on a medium-firm mattress for 90 days experienced better results. The condition of participants who experienced back pain while lying down raised by as much as 80% on a medium-firm mattress, and 70% on a firm mattress.
The degree of discomfort encountered during the day decreased by an impressive 50% for participants who practiced a medium-firm mattress, and 30% for those who slept on a firm mattress. In general, the participants who slept on a medium-firm mattress for the duration of the trial were less likely to expect any pain-relieving drug treatment.
Again, it’s essential to have the “right firmness”.