I like to call the world we are currently living in a world of distraction. Everywhere you look and everywhere you go, something (or someone) is competing to get our undivided attention, whether it be our TV, mobile phone or the tablet.
Though I have nothing against the advancement in technology, in fact I love the age we are living in, I don’t like the extent these tiny gadgets are changing our way of life. Most people are so consumed in this “tech” world they are ignoring their own body and health.
I think that one of the biggest changes this type of life brought along was the increased duration of our active day. Our ancestors were “going to bed” as the sun was going down, but most people today start thinking about going to bed well after midnight.
You might hear those people saying “Oh, I will make it up by sleeping a few hours during the day” or, my personal favorite, “I will make it up by sleeping longer during the weekend.” But the truth of the matter is, adults need 7.5-9 hours of solid, quality sleep every night!
Lack of sleep can be devastating on our body and lead to:
- Reduced mental capacities
- Lack of motivation
- Reduced immunity
- Impaired motor capabilities
- Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes
As you can see, getting enough sleep is a BIG deal and you should really think twice if staying up for an extra 2, 3 hours browsing Facebook posts, 9gag or watching TV is really worth it.
If you were paying attention carefully, I mentioned we need around 8 hours of QUALITY sleep, we will talk about this in the following section.
What Is “Quality” Sleep?
To better understand and measure the quality of one`s sleep, we need to take a better look at the architecture of the sleep cycle.
Our sleeping habits are largely controlled by nature – when the sun goes down, our body produces a hormone called melatonin (which makes you sleepy). The production of this hormone is crucial and it can easily be thrown off balance by – working graveyard shifts, changing time zones when travelling, being exposed to less sunlight during the day etc.
Of course, I cannot ask you to check your melatonin levels through the day in order to make sure when you should go to bed, but it is important to recognize when your body is “telling you” it needs sleep and it is also important to know that you can easily disrupt this biological clock, resulting in insomnia and problems we listed above.
As you can see, the problems occur even before you go to bed, but they don’t stop there. When we do go to bed, our sleep follows a specific patter, altering between deep sleep (restorative) and more alert sleep (REM stage). Together these two stages make a complete cycle, lasting about 90 minutes, and repeating 4-6 times during the night. Disrupting this balance and the duration of sleeping cycles is usually caused by waking up several times during the night, smoking and drinking and working night shifts.
Top Tip: If you want to make your waking up less painful, try setting your clock to go off at the end of this cycle. For example, if you go to bed at 11 pm, you can set the alarm clock to 6:30 so you can wake up at the end of 5th sleeping cycle.
There are a lot of aspects of quality sleep, and an important one is sleeping position. We are ging to go over some of the most common sleeping positions for adults:
Sleeping On The Side
Researchers say that sleeping on the side is the best sleeping position since it will relieve the stress off your spine. Here are some tips from our friends at BackPainRelief.net:
- Place a pillow beneath your head and in between the legs. This will prevent hips from twisting
- Make sure your pillow doesn’t allow your head to tilt up or down because it can cause neck pain
- Try a side sleeper pillow if you experience any lower back pain
Sleeping On The Back
This is my least favorite sleeping position, and honestly I cannot imagine how anyone can fall asleep lying on their back. Unfortunately, this is one of the best sleeping positions you can assume, especially if you have a good mattress, since it will support your spine and ensure a good night sleep.
So if you are a back-sleeper, congratulations! 😉
Sleeping On The Stomach
According to Back And Neck Care Center, this is the least favorite choice since you will be putting additional stress to your neck muscles and joints (especially if you don’t have a proper pillow), which may lead to poor quality sleep, neck pain and even headaches.
Ideally, you should try and change your sleeping position, but if you simply can`t, you can try getting a body pillow and try to “level your body out”.