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SLEEP POSTURE: WHAT ON EARTH IS IT?
Whether it is a 5hr or 9hr a night, we all sleep, and as we focus more on our wellbeing, try the newest health trends and supplements, attention is turning to the quality of our sleep and what we lay on. However many hours you manage, it would be ideal if the time you spend in bed could be optimised to the maximum. How? Sleep Posture.
What is Sleep Posture and Why Haven’t I Heard of it Before?
When you were little, your parents likely reprimanded you to sit up straight, rather than slouch. Yet, a quick office survey reveals that there's not a single one of us who has ever been pointed towards having good posture while we sleep. It's likely because we are only just realising the impacts of sleep posture on other areas of our lives. So, what is it really? Sleep Posture is the position of our body at night. The most common one? For the majority of us, it's the side (lateral), followed by the back (supine). Not many of us sleep directly on our front (pronal), and thankfully so – it is the position in which the most pressure is applied to our spine. The ideal sleep posture is one that requires the least tension and achieves neutral spinal alignment.
Since the late 80s, it has been well evidenced by Gracovetsky (of Concordia University Montreal) that the optimal sleeping position is side lying, in a semi-foetal way. It applies the least pressure to your spine. However, while we only ‘officially’ refer to three lying positions, people adapt these in many different ways. This means that it is not enough to just talk about the side or the front – because you may be on your side, but also have one knee hanging over the other leg. That knee may not seem like a big deal, but it causes your hips to rotate, which in turn puts unnecessary tension through your spine. Here is a sample of some of the most popular sleeping positions. If you can spot yourself, and you are not the dreamer or the soldier, then you definitely need to keep on reading.
How Does Sleep Posture Impact Day Posture?
In the simplest terms, if you are hunched over your laptop all day long, your back and neck are going to hurt. However, posture is a 24/7 fight against gravity, we can’t only talk about it during the day. Night is the perfect time to fight your bad habits. By allowing your body to align properly, in a neutral position, during the night, you optimise your sleep posture and help yourself fight against the bad postures of the day. Proper alignment also helps you recover and aid your neck and back in waking up ache-free. With most of the nation working from their sofas and kitchen tables right now, there has never been a better (or more urgent) time to consider sleep posture. When you think of it, it is much more difficult to control your posture while you are working, than when you are simply laying in bed sleeping. Proper spine alignment - neck in line with back, neutral hips, straight spine - and you are golden for the day ahead.
Benefits of Good Sleep Posture
Aside from letting your body recover from the bad postures of the day, optimising your sleep can:
- Reduce neck pain
- Reduce back pain
- Improve digestion and circulation
- Lessen tension in neck and shoulders
- Boost energy levels
- Increase lung capacity
- Increase core strength
Let’s get one thing straight, though; good sleep posture is not the magical solution to not being able to sleep well. However, according to the The National Bed Federation, the biggest factor in having a disturbed sleep is being uncomfortable in bed, and sleep posture impacts your comfort levels and sleep quality positively. Nevertheless, if you fight with your partner, get some bad news or stay up watching Netflix until 3am, then even the best sleep posture will not make it feel like you have woken up recovered. Control the things you can control, like what you sleep on.
Achieving Good Sleep Posture
Whether it comes to complex neurological patients, elite athletes, home office workers, or just about any human on the planet, we all benefit from having good sleep posture. What we sleep on is the key to making it possible. Lay on a pillow that takes care of your head, lifts it off the bed just enough for your neck to be in a neutral position parallel to the bed and provides you with proper spinal alignment. We all sleep in different ways and are of different sizes; achieving good sleep posture is not a one-size-fits-all deal. Levitex sleep posture pillows come in four sizes and are made for helping you with your night-time posture. If picking the correct size, having presumably never had to figure out your pillow size before, seems a little daunting, fret not – there is a quick (1 minute) online sleep consultation where Levitex recommends a size based on how you sleep.