Is your pillow ruining your sleep patterns?

Do you wake up feeling exhausted, suffering with a stiff neck or shoulders and those awful headaches?

According to a leading sleep researcher you could be one of the millions suffering from low-grade exhaustion. And the cause is disrupted sleep.

Semisomnia:

You might think you are sleeping well, but these things are making you toss and turn throughout the night, and therefore affecting both the quality and duration of your sleep – hence your chronic tiredness.

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert from the Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital, says the number of people suffering from sleep disturbance peaks at this time of year, with more than half the population experiencing some kind of sleep disturbance.

It was Dr Stanley who last year identified semisomnia, a form of low-grade exhaustion linked to our inability to switch off.

There are a combination of factors to blame. The transition from holidays back to routine, your pillows, the lighting in your bedroom, hydration, your bed and covers, and even your pajamas play important roles in determining just how restful your night’s rest really is.

Read also: What to do when you can’t go back to sleep

 

Uncomfortable bedding: 

Research by Professor Chris Idzikowski found that people with uncomfortable beds – which can cause muscular aches and back pain – sleep an average one hour less each night.

Sammy Margo, a chartered physiotherapist says even your pillow can affect your sleeping patterns.

“We rarely give a lot of thought to the pillows we use, but buying the right one and positioning it correctly could be one of the most important parts of sleeping success,” Margo says.

“In addition to providing comfort, the right pillows can give the necessary support for the neck and spine, alleviating or preventing many common forms of back and neck pain.”

An uncomfortable pillow will affect your lying posture meaning you are likely to toss and turn in a bid to get comfortable as you sleep.

Worse, a bad pillow can aggravate, if not cause, strain to the muscles in the shoulders, back and neck that can affect your posture, breathing and even your mood.

How many pillows you use also influences sleep patterns. Too many tilt your head forwards and too few tilt your head backwards, both of which put strain on the neck and upper spine.

A badly positioned pillow also causes narrowing of the airpipes, resulting in obstructed breathing and snoring which hinders sleep.

 

How to test if your pillow is still alright:

Synthetic filled – Fold the pillow in half and place an item the weight of a shoe on top of it. If the pillow bounces back and pops the shoe off it, its still alright. If not, its time to buy a new one.

Feather/down: Fold your pillow in half or thirds and compress it (squeeze all the air out – squash it), if it unfolds itself its good to go, if not, its time to make a trip to the store.

 

Some pointers: Bedtime rituals can make or break your success 

 

Your choice of pajamas:

“Keeping your neck and shoulders warm is most important to avoid neck ache and stiffness,” Ms Margo adds.

Loose-fitting, high-necked garments allow your body to move freely during sleep. Choose fabrics that breathe – cotton is best.

A pair of bed socks could also help. As they have the poorest circulation, the feet often get cold before any other part of the body.

As well as determining whether you wake up tired or refreshed in the morning, addressing all this is important for your general health.

A good read: Symptoms of not eating enough calories

 

Over a period of just weeks, sleep disruption can have a detrimental effect on your longterm well-being.

There’s been much coverage of the fact that the sleep-deprived are less efficient at work, fatter and more likely to take time off sick. They can also struggle with relationships and are at increased risk of being involved in traffic or other accidents.

But lack of sleep also raises levels of stress and anxiety – as disrupted sleep patterns mean your body doesn’t release the sleep hormones that act as an antidote to tension.

The good news is that you can reverse the damage caused by disturbed sleep, says Dr Stanley.

A week or so after changing your sleeping habits, most people notice a positive difference to their mood.

“Humans are not like TV’s and computers in that we can’t just switch off at the click of a button – we need time to wind down,” Dr Stanley says.

“The difference undisturbed sleep makes can be astounding.”

Read also: Tips to identify if your thyroid is functioning properly

 

Read the original article and more here.

 

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(Comments posted on this issue may be used for publication in the Sun)

  AUTHOR
Holly Konig
Journalist

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