Good sleep is becoming an increasingly distant thought thanks to the increasing number of distractions that keep us up late when we have work or college the next morning. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to change some things.
With a little help from science in the recent past, it has been possible to get to the bottom of a lot of sleep-related problems. If you’re wondering how, science has enabled us to understand what the right postures for various sleep problems are and the activities that should be avoided before bed because they tend to tire the brain.
Here are 9 sleep problems you’re likely to have faced and how science can help you solve them.
9 Sleep Problems And How You Can Fix Them With Science
1. Aching Shoulders
If you sleep on your side a lot, chances are you’ll end up with shoulder pain.
Don’t sleep on the side of the shoulder that hurts; lie on your back instead. Place one pillow under your head and one on your stomach; hug the pillow on your stomach while sleeping. This will keep your shoulders in place.
If you don’t find lying on your back comfortable, sleep on the side that doesn’t hurt. Move your legs toward your chest a little, and keep a pillow between your knees. Remember not to keep your hand under your head while sleeping because this is likely to cause and increase shoulder discomfort.
Sleeping on the stomach when you have shoulder pain is not a good idea because it is said to misalign your shoulders.
2. Neck Pain
Another common sleep problem is neck pain to which pillows could be a contributing factor.
Lie on your back with your arms on the sides; place a pillow under your head and below each arm. Research suggests that firm latex pillows work quite well when you have neck pain.1
If you find sleeping on your side more comfortable, ensure that your pillow isn’t thicker than 6 inches. A very thick pillow is likely to make your neck sore and uncomfortable.
It’s best not to sleep on your stomach when you have neck pain because lying on your stomach with your head turned to one side will strain your neck.
3. Back Pain
Back pain is an incredibly common sleep problem. If you’re wondering what makes it so common, it’s either incorrect posture or the use of the wrong mattress. It’s important to ensure that the normal curves of your spine are maintained and your mattress isn’t too soft.
Sleeping on your back is ideal when you have back pain. A pillow below your knees may help in restoring the curves of your spine and any tension you may be feeling in your tendons. Placing a rolled towel below your lower back may also give you more relief and support.
If sleeping on your back doesn’t suit you, move your legs toward your chest a little while keeping your back arched. Place a pillow between your knees to prevent stress on your lower back.
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t a good idea when you have back pain. But if you really must, then remember to keep a pillow below your pelvis.
4. Unable To Fall Asleep
If you have the habit of keeping your gadgets around you every night, it’s time to change that.
Keeping all electronic gadgets including your phone away when you sleep can work wonders if you have trouble falling asleep every night. The light from the screens is said to affect rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Caffeine in any form should be avoided at all cost at least 6 hours before you go to sleep. Ensure that your body receives the physical activity it needs by exercising every morning. This is likely to help you fall asleep faster by improving blood circulation.
5. Unable To Stay Asleep
If you wake up often in the middle of your sleep, it means that your room temperature isn’t conducive for sleep. The ideal temperature is about 20–22 degrees C, or 68–71 deg F.
Also, if you think alcohol can help put you to sleep in such cases, you’re mistaken. Drinking even a small amount of alcohol every day before going to bed can take a toll on your health in the long run.2
6. Trouble Waking Up
While a lot of us love to get that extra hour of sleep over weekends, inconsistent sleep patterns over the week might be playing a role in having difficulty in waking up. Scientists have termed this problem “social jetlag.” Research suggests that waking up at the same time every morning can prevent this phenomenon.3
7. Snoring Too Much
Wondering why you snore a lot? It’s because your upper airways (which include your nasal cavity and throat) become narrow, restricting air flow. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, producing noise and making you snore.
When you sleep on your back, the tissues around your upper airways may restrict your breathing. So, instead of lying on your back, lie on your side while sleeping.
Avoid using a very soft pillow. This will make your head tilt backward and increase snoring. Using an extra pillow under your head or raising the level of the head of your bed may help reduce your snoring.4 You could also clear out your sinuses with saline solution.
8. Leg Cramps
Nighttime leg cramps are a common occurrence. They are a result of tightening of calf muscles and usually occur when you have muscle fatigue or nerve damage. If you face this problem often, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Stretching, yoga, and massaging your legs are ways you can rid yourself of them.
9. Acid Reflux
Sleep on your left side when you suffer from acid reflux. This prevents your stomach contents from going back up into your esophagus. However, if the problem persists for a long time, ensure that you consult your doctor.
The next time you have these issues, remember the simple remedies you can try to ease them and enjoy a peaceful slumber!
|↑1||Gordon, Susan J., Karen A. Grimmer-Somers, and Patricia H. Trott. “Pillow use: the behavior of cervical stiffness, headache and scapular/arm pain.” Journal of pain research 3 (2010): 137-145.|
Sleep, Sleepiness, and Alcohol Use. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
|↑3||Wittmann, Marc, Jenny Dinich, Martha Merrow, and Till Roenneberg. “Social jetlag: misalignment of biological and social time.” Chronobiology international 23, no. 1-2 (2006): 497-509.|
|↑4||Snoring solutions. Harvard Medical School.|