Proper Sleep Posture for Overall Wellness
How to Sleep Comfortably
Even if you're lying in bed for eight hours or more each night, low-quality sleep can leave you feeling tired, cranky, or achy. Try adjusting the environment around your bed as well as your evening activities, and you should notice a significant improvement. If your sleep is disrupted by heavy snoring, chronic insomnia, or severe anxiety, these methods can still help to a degree, but consulting a doctor may be necessary.
Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Keep the room cool but comfortable.Believe it or not, it is much easier to fall asleep in a cool environment than a toasty, well-heated room. Try to achieve a temperature in your bedroom between 60º and 67ºF (15.6–19.4ºC). Personal preference has an effect here too, but the ideal sleeping temperature for most people falls into this range. Try it and you may be surprised.
- Babies and toddlers sleep better at a slightly warmer temperature. Their ideal range is between 67 to 70 °F (19 to 21 °C).
Reduce sound and light.If you are a light sleeper, wear ear plugs and eye covers to prevent stimuli from waking you up. If early morning sunlight wakes you up, hang blackout curtains to block it.
Consider white noise.If loud noises in the night are unavoidable, comforting background could help cover them up. Try running a whirring fan or playing quiet, calming instrumental music. If your room is dry, a humidifier can solve two issues at once.
Pick a sleeping position.This is especially important if you suffer from back or neck pain, but anyone can benefit from arranging themselves and their pillows in a comfortable position.Try one of these:
- Sleep on your side, with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest. Place a pillow between your knees to keep your pelvis and spine straight.
- Sleep on your back only if your mattress provides comfortable support. Try a second pillow beneath your knees and/or under the hollow of your back for additional support.
- Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, as it can cause breathing issues and neck pain. If this is the only way you can fall asleep, sleep on the edge of a tall pillow, so you can tilt your head slightly for air flow, but don't need to wrench your neck to do so.
Test different pillow arrangements.Some people sleep without a pillow, while others prefer one or two large, soft pillows. Go with the option that keeps your neck and shoulders relaxed throughout the night. If you feel tense when you wake up, and can't find a pillow that works for you, try rolling up a towel and placing it under your neck for direct support.
- If you can't find a comfortable position for your arms, try holding a large pillow, rolled up towel, or stuffed animal.
Use heavy blankets in cool to normal temperature.A heavier blanket or cover can increase your sense of security while falling asleep. Depending on personal preference and current weather, you may prefer a light quilt, a warm, thick comforter, or even a weighted bean blanket.
Get comfortable in hot weather.Change your sleeping setup when the weather gets warmer, especially if you wake up sweaty or feeling trapped in the bedclothes. If you normally sleep naked under blankets, try sleeping in pajamas under just a sheet.
- Take a cool shower just before you go to bed.
- Turn on a fan to keep you and your room cool.
- If you don't have air conditioner, wet cloths or paper towels and drape them over your face and arms. Alternatively, attach a mister or fine mist gadget above your bed so that it can spray your face with cool water. For example, you could use a plant mister.
Relaxing at Bedtime
Use your bed only for bedtime.Work, games, and most other activities should be done at a table or desk instead of on the bed, and in another room whenever possible. Training yourself to associate the bed with sleep or calm bedtime activities can help trigger falling asleep more consistently.
Have a bedtime ritual.A way to wind down each night puts you in the right frame of mind for sleeping, especially if you repeat the same ritual every time. If lying awake in bed causes anxiety or fear, this is especially important.Try the following ideas:
- Read a calm book.
- Listen to a book on tape or a podcast, with your eyes closed. If this keeps you up, listen to nature sounds instead.
- Eat a small snack if you tend to wake up hungry, such as a glass of milk, a banana, or a small bowl of low-sugar cereal.
Exercise earlier in the day.Exercising is a great idea, as long as you don't wake yourself up with a workout right before bed. Exhausting yourself to extreme fatigue will not produce restful sleep, but some form of physical activity is often a necessity to help you stick to a daily sleep schedule.
Finish the day with a light meal.As mentioned above, your body slows down as it starts to sleep, including your metabolism. If you eat a heavy meal before bedtime, your slowed metabolism could keep you uncomfortably full – or return to "active mode" and produce unwanted energy.
Preventing Restless Sleep
Be careful about hot showers and exercise before bed.When your body transitions from active to resting, everything slows down, and temperature drops. Raising the temperature from a hot shower or a workout session will slow that process down, making it more difficult to sleep. If you need exercise to get tired, or a shower to get comfortable, start it earlier so you have at least thirty minutes to cool down before going to sleep.
- If you want to shower right before bed, it's okay to take a warm shower, as this will not interfere with your sleep.
Avoid most electronics.Your brain chemistry interprets blue light as early dawn, which makes your brain more active. Phones, game consoles, and computers are all sources of blue light. Games, work, puzzles, and other activities that involve mental effort may make it especially difficult to sleep.
- If you decide to use your computer at night, install to make your computer screen change to redder and pinker "sunset" colors at night.
Avoid stimulating vitamins, supplements, and foods.You probably know that caffeine and sugar keep you awake, including caffeine found in soda and chocolate. Other substances that disturb your sleep include B-vitamins, steroidal medication for asthma, beta-blockers, opiates, ginseng, and guarana.If you take any of these as regular evening supplements, take them earlier in the day instead.
- Do not change your medication schedule without consulting a doctor.
- Drinking more water can help pass chemicals through your body faster, but this can be counterproductive if you end up waking up in the night to pee.
Avoid alcohol and cigarettes before bed.The rush from cigarettes or any tobacco source can keep you up or cause anxious, restless slumber.The alcohol advice may seem more unusual, since alcohol puts you to sleep. The rhythm of your sleep after alcohol, however, is significantly disrupted. Avoid alcohol in the two to three hours before bed, or you might wake up in the night, or wake up tired in the morning.
Take sleep aids if necessary.If you are having trouble sticking to a sleep schedule or sleeping the whole night through, melatonin can safely be used to encourage this behavior.For severe insomnia, doctor-prescribed sleep medication may be required, but regular use can build up tolerance and even reliance on the drug. Follow your doctor's instructions and skip the drug when possible to mitigate this situation.
Talk to a doctor about sleep apnea.This common condition, characterized by snoring, cuts off air to your lungs while you sleep, causing restless sleep or frequent waking. You are more likely to be affected if you are overweight or have breathing problems. Your doctor may recommend a "sleep lab" where your sleep is monitored to find out more.
QuestionDo I have to sleep when I'm not tired?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. You do have to sleep, because if you don't, you will regret this the next day.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I stay cool when I'm under my blankets and it's hot?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUncover yourself, use a thinner blanket (or just a sheet), or wear less. Open a window or turn on a fan or air conditioner if you can.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best way to find my ideal sleeping position?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWhen attempting to sleep, try one position for 15 minutes, then change after that time to a new position. Repeat until you run out of positions to try. You'll know the right one when you feel the most comfortable and at ease.Thanks!
QuestionIs fast food also a stimulant for restless sleep?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, the salt, sugar, and unhealthy ingredients in fast food can make it harder to sleep, especially if you eat it close to bedtime.Thanks!
QuestionDo you have any tips on how to get a solid five to eight hours of sleep per night?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry white noise such as a fan blowing - but not directly over you, as it can make you cold. Turn the phone and TV off an hour before bed, and read a book until you feel sleepy.Thanks!
QuestionWhat should I do if I keep waking up with a sore neck and back?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt may be your mattress or pillow. Try a new pillow before looking into new mattresses.Thanks!
QuestionI have a diffuser; should I use the lavender or peppermint scent?Community AnswerThe lavender scent can help you relax, so try that. You can also try scents like jasmine or rose.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use my phone to read an e-book in bed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes you can, but it will most likely make you have a more difficult time trying to sleep. If you want a story to be read, put the e-book on audio. Try not to read a suspense, action, or horror book.Thanks!
QuestionWhat time should a 9 - 11 year old go to bed if they should wake up at 7:15 am for school?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is recommended that you get nine to ten hours of sleep per night. That said, you should go to sleep at nine or ten o'clock at night.Thanks!
QuestionWhat would be the most comfortable position to sleep in if I have a rigid plaster cast on my left foot going up to my knee?QuickShipCommunity AnswerI would recommend you sleep on your side, but to make it more comfortable, put a pillow underneath your plaster cast. If you have a sinking mattress, sleep on your back, but still put your leg on a pillow.Thanks!
How would I sleep if I am not tired and still active?
To sleep comfortably, keep your bedroom cool by opening a window or turning down the heat, since the ideal sleeping temperature is around 60 degrees F. If you're often disrupted by sounds during the night, try turning on a fan to create white noise. You can also wear ear plugs and eye covers to block out light and sound. To make falling asleep easier, you'll want to avoid using electronics, like phones or computers, immediately before bedtime, because the blue light they produce makes your brain more active.
- If you have chronic sleep problems, keep a daily sleep diary. Write what you ate before bed, your last three or four hours of activity, how you felt when you went to bed, and how you felt when you woke up. Compare your entries every few days to help you find patterns, such as activities that keep you awake, or foods that lead to restful sleep.
- If you're a female, track your cycle to see if your hormones could be preventing you from sleeping comfortably.
- If you want to find your body's most comfortable sleeping position, pay attention to how you wake up in the morning. Try replicating this position when going to bed for a comfortable sleep.
- Keep running fans more than arm's length away from your bed, to avoid catching fingers or long hair in the blades.
- Before leaving fans or other "white noise" sources on all night, read the safety label to find out if there is an associated fire hazard.
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