First we should look at how much sleep you need. When you were a kid 10-14 hours of sleep in a day meant that you could go go go. Now that you are an adult 7-8 hours per day should satisfy your needs, keeping in mind that everyone is different some of us need more sleep than others. Surprisingly 20% of Americans report getting less than 6 hours of sleep on average. If you feel drowsy during the day, you probably haven’t gotten enough sleep.
What positions are best for optimal sleep? Sleeping on your back is actually the healthiest position, but it can cause snoring so sleeping on your side would be the next best choice. When on your back try a small pillow or roll to keep your neck in alignment as well as a pillow under your knees to take the pressure off your lower back. If sleeping on your side is your preferred position try bending your kneed and putting a pillow between your legs, this will help to decrease the strain on your lower back and hips. Make sure to keep your shoulders stacked and your hands and wrists in a neutral position to avoid undue stress and strain. Probably the worst position to sleep in is on your stomach, it exaggerates the arch in your lower spine causing strain as well as neck and shoulder issues from always turning your head one way.
What else can you do to optimize your ability to sleep well? Have complete darkness when you sleep, put up blackout fabric, have a dim alarm clock, and remove or cover anything that creates light. Turn the temperature down, you will sleep better in a cooler room, but make sure to have blankets on hand as your body temperature will change over the course of sleep (you have cooling phases as well as rewarming phases). Try a quieter alarm so it does not startle you. Set up a sleep schedule and stick to it, are your kids not better when they go to bed at the same time every day? Mine sure are. Avoid caffeine before bed. And limit the use of tablets, notebook computers and smart phones before bed as they stimulate brain activity that prevents the brain from winding down. Having the brightness on these pieces of technology too high at night could also prevent your body from producing the correct amounts of melatonin, the hormone that is produced naturally in darkness and helps to regulate sleep.
Still a little tired or drowsy mid-afternoon? Try a power nap. A 20-30 minute nap between 1:00-3:00 in the afternoon helps to increase alertness, improve learning and work memory, improve mood and improve health. With naps it is important to be regular (everyday if you can), make it quick (20-30 min), go dark (this will help you fall asleep faster), and stay warm (remember your body temperature decreases when you sleep).
Try to incorporate some of these ideas into your sleep routine and see how good your feel. Oh and don't forget that regular massage can help you sleep better too. Most of my clients tell me that they sleep great after they have a massage. :)
Sleep tight and I hope you wake up feeling rested and ready to tackle your day!