Sleeping Positions may Affect More than You Think

My guess is that you haven’t given much thought to sleeping positions. That could be a big mistake. Most people sleep in whatever position feels most comfortable for them in the moment. If you’re like me, you probably have a couple favorite positions, “go-to” positions that you rely on to get to sleep quickly. I have used a cycle for many years that moves me counter clock-wise until I fall asleep. The problem is that the position I most frequently end up using is not very healthy.

You may be surprised to learn that sleep position matters at all. I mean, what difference could it possibly make what position my body lies in while it’s asleep, as long as I’m asleep, right? Wrong.

Given that we spend about 1/3 of our lives asleep, it makes sense that body position is very important. Most of us are aware that if we make certain repetitive motions over and over we may become injured, not because of the difficulty of the movement, but because of the constant gradual wearing down of muscles, tendons and tissues through repetitive motion. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most famous example of a soft-tissue repetitive stress injury.

In a similar way, being in one position for long periods of time can be harmful if the position is contrary to the way our bodies were designed to be. Sleeping in an improper position can inflict harm to the body in a single night. Ever wake up with a stiff neck or back? Extend that out to days and weeks of poor sleeping habits and you could develop chronic neck and back injuries. Tens of millions of people visit chiropractors every year for chronic back and neck pain and one of the most common causes of such pain is essentially repetitive stress due to poor sleep habits.

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Sleep Disorders

As long as there has been sleep there have been sleep disorders. As they say, “to err is human”, and even with something as seemingly simple as sleep we seem to be able to muck things up.

When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, ‘Did you sleep good?’ I said ‘No, I made a few mistakes.’
Steven Wright

That’s not to say it is entirely your fault if you are troubled in the sleep department. There are a variety of sleep disorders and a variety of causes for these problems. Some are biological problems, some are due to stressful circumstances, and some are because of our own bad habits.

Below are some of the most common sleep-related issues people face.

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The 56 Best Tips for Better Sleep

Woman Sleeping

Humans have been sleeping since the beginning of time. You’d think, by now, that we would have a pretty good handle on it, especially when you consider that most of us sleep every day, and that we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping (or at least trying to sleep).

Although sleep can be a challenge from time to time there are a number of things we can do to improve the quality of our sleep. The following is an extensive list of helpful tips I’ve accumulated over the years. If you employ these into your life I am confident that you will begin achieving better sleep right away!

If you have found something that works for you, and it is not on this list, feel free to add it to the comments at the end.

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Thursday Sleep Tip: White Noise to Soothe the Savage Beast

A lot of people swear that they sleep better in the rain. I assume that what they mean is that it is raining outside, but that they are inside where it is dry. Trying to sleep outside in the rain might be a little too similar to Chinese water torture. Actually, my wife and I were camping a few years ago on the coast and a heavy rain storm came up unexpectedly during the night. The rain leaked through the top of our tent and dripped on my head, making sleep impossible. So, I speak with some authority when I say that sleeping while physically in the rain is of no benefit to you.

However, it is pretty well established, at least anecdotally, that when the rain is falling outside people find it easier to get to sleep inside. In fact, it doesn’t have to be rain. All kinds of ambient, “white noise” sounds can have a positive effect on sleep. I have heard numerous reports of electric fans, ocean waves, wind, the furnace, static on a radio, and of course rain being significant aids to sleep.

Benefits of White Noise

So-called “white noise” is beneficial in several ways.

  • White noise tends to be soothing, helping you to relax
  • It is a distraction that can prevent your mind from wandering to all sorts of things that keep people up at night
  • The steady stream of sound provides a constant mask over other sounds that might otherwise startle us awake.
  • Some kinds of white noise can have a hypnotic effect that lulls you to sleep

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The Stages of Sleep

As we sleep our minds and bodies pass through several different stages. In fact there are five different stages of sleep, cleverly named stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

Sleep begins as the mind enters into stage 1, which is a very light sleep from which a person can be easily startled and awakened. The heart rate slows, movements slow, and the body temperature drops. You may have noticed on warm evenings that, when the temperature is uncomfortably warm, your body begins to cool even before you actually enter into sleep mode.

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