Posture: how to make to make the most of your sleep
We spoke to Rajiv Bajekal, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Total Orthopaedics to discover how we can all recover more efficiently and run faster.
"It’s all down to our sleep posture," says Rajiv. "We spend a third of our life sleeping and it is important to get good restorative sleep for the body to repair itself. If the back hurts for longer than 5 minutes on waking up, one needs to think about the way they are sleeping. It is important to get a suitable mattress and pillow and these are a good investment. A memory foam mattress and pillow generally work well for most people. During sleep, there is inevitably a change in posture but it is important to get a good comfortable starting position."
- A mattress should not be too hard or too soft and a single supportive pillow is probably best.
- When lying down on the back, one should be able to pass the palm of the hand under the lumbar spine although not too easily. One should not feel any pressure on the bony prominences.
- If lying on the side, it is best if the hip areas do not feel the bottom of the bed (mattress is too soft) and there should not be any pressure on the shoulders or the hips (mattress is too firm).
- A pillow should allow the chin to be in the neutral position when one lies on the back and if lying on their side, it should bring the top of the shoulder in line with the head.
It is important to be comfortable while going to sleep and people lie down in their preferred position on their back, stomach or side. It is important to get a comfortable mattress and pillow as outlined above in the sleep posture basics.
The spine is a structure that allows our centre of gravity to fall between our feet in the upright position and this is by virtue of curves that balance each other i.e. a forward bend in the thoracic spine and sacrum and a reverse bend in the neck and the lower back.
Because a lot of our activities involve putting the spine into a C shape i.e. forward bending, it is easy for structural changes to occur causing a tightness of muscles and ligaments and this attention to posture is important to prevent structural changes and long term disability. Stretches every day and simple back exercises are useful to maintain flexibility.