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Sleep Positions and Mattress Selection for Pain Reduction

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Hey Desk Jockeys, it is Dr. Kevin Christie with you again today for another episode of The Modern Desk Jockey. Today am going to talk about a topic I get requested a lot to speak on with some of our corporations. This particular subject in the power point presentation am going to use as a reference for today’s episode was presented at the corporation just last week and they had requested it, and it just got a ton of feedback, we had a lot of people show up, a lot of questions, and the topic was on Sleep. I am not going to dive into the brain aspect of sleep like the REM sleep, like how much sleep you need, and all the different things that can happen from lack of sleep from a mental side of things; am going to dive into is more of it physical aspect. Things like what position of sleeping, mattress details, pillows; all kinds of information regarding the different types of mattresses, picking out your correct mattress.

You know we could touch on some other things as well but not go to do a deep dive into that, and frankly, I would prefer to interview someone that is an expert in that field, and I know there are plenty. Last year when I was at the World Health Congress for a corporate wellness, there was a lot of discussion about that and so maybe in the future, if there is a demand for it, I would have someone in the show that I would have to interview in regards to performance in mental aspect of sleep, some of the brain imaging and the different things we are seeing.

Before we dive in, lets just talk base on other thing that is, if you are working for a company, HR director, wellness director anything like that and you would like us to do a presentation on that; if you look at that area, we would definitely do that for sure and if you are not, we can always do a webinar; I do a monthly webinar series for a company that is global, and we get people from all over the world listen to the webinar, you can email me at Kevin@moderndeskjockey.com…if that is something you want to have us do for you. So that is an option for sure.

Alright, without further ado, let’s discuss some of the health benefits of sleep. When you have proper sleep, it will improve memory, it will sharpen you mental strength and lower stress, it will help you with a healthy weight, keep you definitely staying healthy and overall maybe improve your creativity, help your performance and that’s the type of stuff of the overall benefits and I would like to interview someone with but honestly it’s something I wanted to mention before we dive in into what am going to discuss.

Some of the statistics I went over with this particular group is that 20 -40% of adults do have insomnia throughout the course of the year and certain things like sleep positions or mattresses can cause that, and there is obviously lots of things that can happen too. Obviously, presenteeism is a large issue in the workforce and the workplace, and we see a lot of that and presenteeism is that you are just there; you are getting the work done but you are not functioning optimally, performing at a high level, so the work production that you are doing is so poor and it’s not necessarily your fault, it’s just that maybe there are circumstances such as lack of sleep causing that and it’s definitely something you want to think to consider.

The average amount of sleep that we do want to have or require is eight and eight and a half hours of sleep each night, and that’s very important to make sure you do that and in the last statistics, am going to go over it quickly; lack of sleep does add up to an estimated of 15.9 billion dollars to national healthcare cost, and that is a lot of physical ailment caused by it, and there is obviously a ton of other reasons for that 15.9 billion and today we are going to dive into the physical causes of that.

Alright, the first main topic I want to discuss is sleeping positions. I get this question lot of time, and I had this big bullet point on the power point presentation and it states simply, do not sleep on your stomach and when you sleep on your stomach, there is a handful of things that goes wrong but right of the bat, for you to sleep on your stomach, you have to turn your head in one direction and typically, you are going to do this the same direction, even if you don’t, it’s going to harm your neck. Again you are sleeping like that 6-8 hours give or take and that puts a crunching on one side of the neck and pull on the other side of the neck and causes all kind of neck issues; that’s a problem. That is one of the leading issues of neck pains, headaches, shoulder problems; some people will get a kink in the neck when they wake up in the morning with that stiff neck; a lot of times is because you are a stomach sleeper, you want to try to avoid that.

The second key issue we have with the stomach sleeper, you can almost envision this, a lot of time either the right arm or left arm up under the pillow like over your head under the pillow and it feels good when you do that but that is really a good way of causing shoulder issues big time, and you really want to avoid that second problem of sleeping on your stomach, and that’s that on arm above your head; it turns on to shoulder issues.

The third one is when you lay on your stomach, it actually causes your lumbar spine on your low back to sag down a bit, and you are actually going to compress the facet joints of your low back. Those are the three real big problems with sleeping on your stomach. I can’t recommend it; there is no time when it is good, it’s just not good for you. Now, some of my patients joke around because we have a practical table in our practice where you can lay on your stomach but it’s got a head piece where you can keep your head straight and an abdominal piece we can raise up a little bit to keep your spine in neutral and work on it and they feel super comfortable like that but again, you are not sleeping like that for a long period, and again it is keeping your neck in neutral, and you are getting neutral spine aspect of lumbar region in that position of the practical table but you cannot achieve that sleeping on your stomach in bed or couch or any other type of long-term sleeping position. So, to wrap that up, do not sleep on your stomach

You want to try to sleep on your side or your back, if you are a snorer, you may be mad at me for telling you to sleep on your back. So take that into consideration, sleeping on your back causes increase snoring that you have to address but from a physical standpoint, sleeping on your back and side is okay, either side is fine, if you do deal with some shoulder pain by sleeping on your side, you do want to rotate and if you have as shoulder, you may sleep on the other side or your back for the time been. So do put that into consideration, overall, sleeping on your side is good.

Couple of things to consider if you are dealing with some back pain, and even if not, if you are sleeping on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees, that’s going to a little bit of the stress off your back or if you are sleeping by your side, you can stick the pillow between your knees, and that will relieve some of the pressure on your low back as well, take that into consideration, that’s the biggest topic of today’s presentation; sleeping on your side or back and making sure that your sleeping positions are okay

I am going to put this particular image I have on the slide in the show notes so you would be able to reference that. Another big thing people make a mistake on is the Pillow aspect. So the overall thing of using a pillow is you want to make sure your neck is in neutral, whether you are sleeping on your back or side, you want to make sure your neck is in neutral, and so, sometimes people have too many pillows. If you have two pillows, that might jerk your neck upward a little bit and put a strain on your neck, so take that into consideration, or if you have one pillow and is really thin, not giving you enough support, your neck may kind of hinge onto the pillow too much, giving it a stretch on the opposite side. There is a little bit difference, some people have wider shoulder than others, so I can make a generalization of you should have one pillow, or you should never have two pillows. But a lot of times, one pillow is good with firmness or I should say some substance that would keep you in neutral, but need to play with that, that is something you are going to check.
Now picture if you are on your back and you have two pillows, that might jerk your neck up too much or if you have one pillow and it’s not thick enough, you might extend head back and cause some neck pains. So you have to find the right amount of pillows, the right type of pillows as far as the substance of the actual pillow.

Now on the quick topic of what a pillow, there is a definite a lot of different types of pillows and the few that I have used, one of the regular standard type of pillow and it can’t get worn out, so make sure it is fairly new, it doesn’t mean brand new and not to be too old, it’s hard to give you exact years on that, you all know which pillow suit. The kind of pillow that I like, the memory foam pillow, the contours; that contours to shape your neck, when I first made that switch to it, it took me a little bit, it wasn’t easy but after a few weeks I got better and definitely like it, so that was pretty good, it wasn’t bad at all, and that was very helpful for me. The other one is currently testing right now, I have got a lot of case studies of patients that like it a lot, I spent the money and bought it and am rotating between that one and memory foam counter pillow, is the MY PILLOW. It’s called My Pillow, am sure a lot of you have seen the commercials pretty much everywhere and it’s actually a very good pillow; not bad, I will recommend it for a lot of people again all pillows are not for everybody, you got to find out what is right for you, worth the investment, trying and testing because if you are really having issues with the pillow, it’s going to cause a neck issue. So definitely take the time to find out what is right for you and then again I wish I had one answer which says this pillow is what you need, I think it is more of trial and error, as long as the pillow is not worn out and got some substance to it, it is going to be for a lot of other people, so just find what is comfortable for you which is supporting your neck the best to take home for that.

Alright, so am going to dive into everybody’s favorite topic, and that is the mattresses and got a little quote here from Ira Schemy, she is a medical doctor, and essentially, she says if the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment, if it is soft, those pressure points won’t be too supported; so your whole body flops back, both of this scenario leads to an achy morning and essentially what she is trying to say is that everybody is indifferent with this again, some people like firm mattresses, some like soft, so you have to find out where you are hard on that, and one of the realities of it is if you share your bed with a significant other, that person may be different from you. So that’s something you should take into consideration and one of the things I like for everybody;

I am going to put this on show notes, and it’s called the Sleep Test; sleep is an acronym, S.L.E.E.P and this is the process of selecting a mattress when you decide it’s time to do that. S is select your mattress, L is lay down on your typical position on your mattress, E is evaluate the value of comfort and support, the second E is educate yourself about each selection and P is partner should test beds together. So when you are going to test the bed, you need to make sure you are testing it together. Go to the store, find a reputable sales person, and obviously, you want to make sure you both like it.

You should do at least 15 minutes of the mattress testing, and that’s going to be helpful for you and your spouse. Please take advantage that this mattress has a length time and a grace period of six months when you can return it after a couple of months you realize it is not for you, it is not working. Return the mattress, don’t settle, and don’t deal with it. It’s something that is huge, and you really want to make sure you find the right mattress for both of you and your partner, so take advantage of that and don’t say you will deal with it, it’s not your own and you are going to hate it especially when you have spent a lot of money on it. These mattresses can be expensive, but they can be worth it. If you spend $4,000 and it is the perfect mattress for you, there is a reason why it is $4,000; it could be a great investment for you. Now with that said, you don’t need to spend $4,000, you can find one more affordable; reasonable price but again am just saying you can afford $4,000 mattress and it isn’t feeling right for you, that’s not good, or you have a $1,000 mattress, and it’s perfect for you. So take considerations to come down to that sleep test to find the right one.

So you might want to ask me when do I know I need a new mattress? And some go through a couple of things to help determine that for you because again. If it is older than ten years, it’s like you are probably going to need one, it’s a general blanket statement but let’s just go for a few things when you should do that.

If you wake up in the morning and have some low back pain and you can’t get rid of it with stretching in 15 or 30 minutes, that means you are not on an appropriate mattress for you. So it means like you wake up with a low back pain, but then you get rid as soon as you start moving around throughout the day you feel fine; most times that is a problem with the mattress. You just have back problems, and it is causing you from golfing, you have back pain all day. If you have back pain from golf, work or whatever, of course, it’s going to hurt when you are sleeping as well. So what we are saying is if you wake up with back pain and you get rid of it with stretching, that’s a problem or an issue with the mattress.

The right mattress on the other end is when you are not going to feel pressure, just like you are floating on air, you just really feel super comfortable, and that’s something you need to consider and if you don’t have that type of feeling, it is something you may need to check into. Again, if you are looking for a mattress, experts suggest that you test in store, lay down on the mattress in each position that you normally sleep and make sure that you for 10 or 15 minutes and you check out all different types of mattresses in different firmness of them, you might like a type but there is definitely different level of firmness, so you need to make sure you find the one that is perfect for you. Some of the keys to finding the right mattress is first, you need to determine your budget and your needs, you have to do your homework before really going shopping; I recommend going online and really doing your home-work on a few different types of mattresses that are out there, but it is not going to be an in-depth cover thing, so am going to another episode where I really dive into the different types of mattresses but make sure, you do your research. Make sure you choose the right type of store, the store that you trust. You want to utilize their retail sales associate; you want to trust that person, try to get honest feedback from them and have good communication with that person and obviously, that way you can test right the mattresses and come together on a plan for you. One thing I do recommend, I got a lot of this information from the better sleep council; Google that, of course, that’s the best sleep Council, there is a lot of information regarding this.

Alright, to the last topic of today’s episode, am going to discuss four different types of mattresses quickly. It is the most common ones that you have seen. The first type of mattress we are going to discuss is the inner spring mattress; this is the most commonly used mattress. You don’t need to have more than a 390 clear account; it is kind of the typical mattress we all know of and they can be beneficial for people with lower back pain, the tend to be a little firmer which definitely can help with back pain.

The second type is the memory foam mattress, and that’s the contour of the shape of your body, it’s going to help produce some of the pressure points we mentioned earlier and one of the other really cool things about it too is that it absorbs movement, so it is less prone to disturb your partner so if one of you moves around a lot; let’s say it’s a good size bed as a king bed. You have a less tendency to affect the other person on the bed which is cool for sure. One of the drawbacks is if you sleep hot at night like you are a hot sleeper, then you want to make sure you get the ones that don’t make you feel hotter at night. Sometimes, it emits too much heat, but there is certain memory foam mattress that reduces such effect, put that in mind when you are looking, and with the memory foam, all have a different level of firmness, so you are going to have to test the different ones. So first step is what kind of mattress do I want? Is it inner spring? Memory foam? Latex mattress which I would talk about, sleep member, once you have narrow down to that, obviously you need to narrow down to the level of firmness as such.

The third type of mattress, again there is an overview, lot of information, go to better sleep Council, or we have another episode where we dive in deep into it. The latex mattress is going to be a firm, bouncy support bed, uniform throughout the bed, very firm, make sure you like that. Some people do like very firm; I know people who like sleeping on the couch better than their bed because they like the firmness and this Latex mattress is considered as the best for relieving back pain, keep that in mind.

Lastly, the sleep number bed. I know, my parents got a sleep number bed because my dad likes the firm mattress, my mom likes it been on feathers, so they settled on the sleeping member, and it’s been good for them, and It helps all that. I am not a huge fan of the bed for people outside of that, if you differ considerably on the level of firmness, then softness, then it is something you should consider and test out and see how you like it. If you are two to a bed and one is completely firm liking, and the other one is soft, consider that before you pick the other ones, look at other ones as well.

Alright so today’s episode is not longer as usual for me, am just talking about one subject but I know this is one that a lot of people would ask about, so hope you enjoy it. We would have all the resources in the show notes so you can check, and we would have some other spin-off episodes of this, and maybe I would dive in deeper into types of pillows and mattress and probably would interview someone on more of the sleep aspect like insomnia and other different types of sleep disorders.