Dr Jessica Sammut
Let's Talk About Sleep
Fact: Over 70% of Australian's now sleep for 7 hours or less with over 33% getting just 5-6 hours.
Fact: Sleep disorders cost the Australian economy more than $5.1 billion a year in health care and indirect costs.
Fact: More than 1.5 million Australian adults, 9% of the adult population, now suffer from sleep disorders.
Fact: Poor quality and lack of sleep can affect our mood, productivity and has been suggested to impact on back and neck pain.
So... surely the solution is for everyone to just get more sleep each night? If only that was the case. With busier lives, demanding jobs, family or money pressures, this is impossible for most. However, instead of worrying about the number of hours sleep you can’t get, focus on the quality of the sleep you can get. For many of us, a sensible, regular bedtime and a comfortable bed and pillow are the key to sleeping well.
We spend more time in our bed than our car, yet most of us would not think to test out a mattress before purchasing. Check that your mattress has not exceeded its life expectancy, which on average is 8 years, as this may have a huge impact on achy or stiff joints.
Everyone’s needs are different but the mattress material (i.e. latex, pocket sprung, and memory foam) can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. The firmness of the mattress is crucial; if you are suffering with back pain a firmer mattress may be better for you. Equally important is the type and quality of the base, which will provide additional support during your sleep.
Many of us underestimate just how much of a difference having the right pillow makes to the quality of our sleep and how we feel. If you suffer with neck and shoulder pain, you may find your pillow's the culprit.
The correct pillow and positioning can help align the spine as you sleep, alleviating or preventing many common back and neck conditions. The height of your pillow depends on your sleeping position and body shape - if you sleep on your back you will need a slim pillow which puts the spine in the mid-line position whereas a thicker pillow will provide more support if you sleep on your side. In an ideal world we recommend you replace them at least every 3 years.
You’re sleeping environment.
Ensure the last 30 minutes before your bedtime are free of all electrical devices (such as TVs and laptops), caffeine, heavy meals, intense exercise and bright lights. Instead, dedicate this time to a calming activity such as reading. Experts recommend that your bedroom should be cool (between 15 and 19 degrees) and free from any noise, bright lights or smells that may disturb your sleep. A simple solution may be to use devices such as ear plugs, fans, blackout curtains, eye masks or humidifiers.
You can also read here for my 6 Ways to Optimise Sleep. Happy sleeping!!