The internet is full of helpful advice on the necessity and the benefits of sleeping for at least 8 hours every night. There’s also associated advice on tech detox that is done by leaving your smartphone and computer in a separate room, shutting down e-mails for the day before you leave work, and not consuming meals or alcohol for at least 4 hours prior to going to bed. But there appears to be little or no advice on the actual activity of sleeping itself.
While turning off your phone and eating dinner early can promote more restful sleep, the way you sleep also makes a big difference to your overall health. Your posture and the paraphernalia in the bed also contribute to the quality of your sleep, and consequently, your health. There are also specific postures that can alleviate the pain related to specific health issues. We’ve put together some ideas on how you can restore your body as well as take care of specific bodily concerns while sleeping.
1. Back Pain
If you attend yoga classes, you will often see the instructor recommend those with back issues to place a yoga block under the curve of their back before trying an asana. This works for sleeping too. To help with your back pain, medical websites suggest lying absolutely flat on your back. You may place a small cushion under your knees or the curve of your back while you’re still getting used to this position. Lying flat on your back is the best posture to reduce back pain.
2. Shoulder Pain
Although many of us prefer this position to ease our menstrual cramps, this posture works well to help with shoulder pain as well. Lie on the side you are not experiencing pain with your legs bent at the knees. Imagine that your knees and thighs are parallel to your pillow. If you are not comfortable or used to this position, placing a pillow between your legs may allow for more flexibility in the bend.
3. Sinus Infections
If you live in humid, tropical climates, sinus infections can easily become the bane of your life. Unlike most health issues that are dealt with to a certain extent by sleeping through the night, a sinus infection tends to get worse overnight. This is because most of us lie in positions where the head is at level with the rest of the body. This causes the mucus to accumulate in the sinus, resulting in that heavy forehead feeling in the morning. Use an extra couple of pillows (soft ones, so that you don’t end up with a headache instead) to elevate your head. This should help lessen the pain.
You can go to sleep with absolutely no health concern that night but wake up with a headache. It seems as though the common cold and headache are the worst problems one can experience. Try surrounding your head with pillows to prevent unconscious twisting of the neck, which can result in a headache in the morning. You can also experiment with an air travel pillow to see if this prevents your neck from making painful, unconscious movements while you sleep.
When going through PMS, going straight back to sleep is so tempting. Give in to that temptation! After taking your pain medication, lie flat on your back and place a pillow under your knees. This should help with the cramps and reduce the pain to a large extent.
6. Blood Pressure
Lying on your belly can help lower blood pressure quite significantly. Of course, this should be accompanied by your doctor’s medicines and all, but give this posture a try – it’s quite comfortable.
7. Digestive Issues
Given that our stomachs are positioned on the left side of our bodies, it seems logical that sleeping on our left side will promote better digestion. Experiment with pillows and the posture of your legs and hands to be comfortable.
8. Neck Pain
Another common ailment of our times, neck pain seems to afflict everyone – including school-going kids. As with back pain, lie flat on your back and place a rolled-up hand towel under your neck. You can also place additional cushions or small pillows under the curve of your back and your knees for added comfort.
Like digestive issues, sleeping on the left side will also help ease heartburn. If it is difficult for you to continue to sleep on your left side through the night, try building a wall of pillows behind your back on the right side to discourage you from turning over. This also provides the added comfort of a buffer to your back.
Much like everything else in life, when it comes to sleep, it’s not just quantity but also the quality that matters. Speak to your doctor if you have a combination of health issues, and try and take up yoga classes. The asanas are targeted practices for different health concerns and can promote better sleeping postures and quality of sleep.