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The secrets of sleep!

The importance of having a good nights sleep has a big impact on your overall health and well being. It has been calculated that we spend almost half our lives in bed.

Sleep is the time our bodies can recover from hard exercise, injury and psycho-social problems. Adequate levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. You need to get enough sleep, which is around 7-8 hours for the average adult and 10 hours if your in recovery. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle and workouts.

The bodies sleep cycle goes through two phases throughout the night, Rapid eye movement sleep (light) and deep sleep.

During deep sleep the muscles and tissues in the body are rejuvenated and new cells are regenerated during this phase of sleep, your blood pressure drops and breathing becomes deeper and slower.

The brain has little activity within the cortex and therefore the blood supply available to your muscles is greater, providing increased amounts of oxygen and nutrients which promote their healing and growth.

In addition to this, your hormonal system releases a ‘Growth Hormone’ that stimulates muscle and tissue repair, this is from a small pea sized gland in our brain known as the Pituitary Gland.

How much sleep do we need in our lives?

On average during our life time our sleep time varies, new borns will commonly need 14-17 hours sleep, this decreases as we get to school age, teens will often need 8-10 hours but their sleep patterns can change and they can happily stay up late but not be able to get up for work or school.

Its important as adults that we try and get a minimum or 7 hours but having 9 hours is optimum! To help with sleep; well know natural sleep aids can help us drift off;

  • Magnesium: low levels of magnesium can interrupt our sleep. It plays an important role in hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and, crucially, the deactivation of adrenaline (our flight or flight hormone). Consume foods such as sprouted whole-grains, legumes, hummus, cooked spinach are rich in magnesium.

  • Tryptophan and serotonin rich foods, have shown in research that carbohydrates and proteins such as turkey, nuts and seeds promote restorative sleep.

Choosing the right bed to aid your injury recovery and prevent back pain!

A small number of people seek advice when buying a mattress or pillow, however the majority look online rather than speaking to a professional from the industry. We all come in different shapes and sizes, so finding the optimum level of support is key. Consulting specialists within the ergonomic sleep industry is a great idea and will talk you through the options you have and also encourage you to lay and try out the mattress and pillow before you buy it and normally will guarantee a 30 day return option.

Which Pillow?

This is a question we get asked in the clinic a lot! It's actually quite hard to advise as we said before everyone is different! Important points when thinking about pillows:

- Your pillow should be an extension of this i.e. your neck should be a continuation of the straight spine and not too high or too low.

- Consider the size, the most important factor is the size of the pillow relative to your frame and the position you sleep in, side, back or front sleeping.

- Consider the filling of the pillow: synthetic, or natural (feather or down), or something more unusual like memory foam, latex, cotton or water. Do your research on the internet, and ask your chiropractor

about your sleep position as this will determine the height of the pillow you should consider buying.

Memory foam — is soft and smooth and doesn't get lumpy through its lifetime. The shape of a memory foam tends to contoured match the curves of the head and neck when sleeping on your side or back. However if you tend to move around while sleeping or sleep on your tummy the fixed height and contours may not suit you.

Synthetic Pillow : Lots of choice on the market, and can be ‘scrunched' up to get the right height of you move about in your sleep. They tend to be easy to care for and wash and generally the cheapest pillow to buy, however they have a shorter lifespan than the pillows and can flatten and clump with 6 - 12 months.

Feather Pillows: like synthetic pillows are easy to shape and are more durable however the feathers can come loose and become poke through the toughest of covers.

The Technogel Pillow:

Is one of the news pillows on the market: it’s a pillow made of an innovative structure of gel surface and visco-elastic cold foam. The manufacturers of the pillows suggest that the 3D adjustment in the shape of the pillow fits the head and neck when side or back sleeping.

Your Mattress questions answered!

Choosing the right bed can minimise those factors that may lead to, or aggravate back pain - however in truth, there is no one solution that suits all.

Hard or soft mattress? - The leading mattress to choose is a ’supportive one’. You have to take into account your weight - a 15 stone person will need a different amount of support to a 9 stone person!

Which is the right mattress for me?

If you are lying on your side, your spine should be parallel to the mattress and your spine should not sag (bed too soft) or bow (bed too hard). The longer you can spend lying on a mattress before you buy it, the more accurate this feeling will be, visit the mattress providers show room 3-4 times before making the final decision.

What about my partner?

Always shop with your partner as your respective ideal mattress tensions could be very different. If this is the case, buy beds from a range that allow two single mattresses to be zipped together, so that you both get the support you need.

Exercise can also be important for relieving the physical stresses of the day and reduce the compression through the spine. Try these simple stretches before bed to again contribute to a restful and pain free night.

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