Which sleep position will invite the most restful sleep?

By adulthood, everyone has their go-to sleep position, whether it’s collapsing right onto the mattress on their stomach, curling up into fetal position, or sprawling out like a starfish. Because it’s habit, it might seem like the most comfortable; however, there’s a chance your sleep position isn’t doing you any favors in the sleep quality department.

In addition to a supportive mattress, your sleep position can affect how well you sleep, as well as your overall health. For example, a poor posture could trigger or exacerbate chronic pain, weaken blood circulation, or egg on heartburn or digestive issues, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Before you blame your bed and invest in a new mattress, consider your sleep position.

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back puts the spine in the most neutral position, so it’s the least damaging to your body—and thus the most recommended, according to NSF. This sleep position is the least likely to lead to back or neck pain, and it’s also less likely to trigger heartburn (a major sleep disruptor). Getting a new mattress that’s more firm and placing a pillow under your knees can also cut down on back pain while sleeping face-up.

A few exceptions: first of all, this sleep position can make snoring worse, and it can actually be dangerous for those with sleep apnea because it can cause the tongue to block the airway. Additionally, back sleeping is not recommended during pregnancy, as it causes the larger abdomen to put heavy pressure on a major vein, which can affect circulation.

Despite being the most recommended sleep position, it’s also the least common: apparently just 8 percent of sleepers use this snoozing posture on their mattress. One way to find sleeping on your back more comfortable is using a medium-firm pillow.

Sleeping in fetal position

Sleeping in fetal positionis the posture of choice for about 41 percent of adults, according to NSF. During pregnancy, sleeping in fetal position on the left side is ideal: it supports blood circulation (and keeps pressure off your liver on the right side of the body). 

Snorers also benefit from the fetal position, thanks to gravity. When sleeping on the back, the back of the tongue can fall back into the airway and cause snoring; when sleeping curled up on the side, the tongue tends to fall forward—not blocking the back of the throat. 

Sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your sidewith the legs mostly straight (not fetal position) is helpful for people who are prone to heartburn, are pregnant, or tend to snore. This sleep position may also be better for reducing joint pain than the tightly curled fetal position. Sleeping on the left side is best, especially for pregnant women and people with heartburn, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

If you want to switch to sleeping on your side—whether in fetal position or more straightened out—make sure you have the firmest pillow /possible to help support the neck and keep the spine aligned. 

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on the stomach is almost never recommended. Sure, it curbs snoring, but it is a major trigger for back pain, neck stiffness, and aching muscles. Still, 7 percent of sleepers choose to snooze on their stomachs. To make this sleep position less damaging, use the thinnest pillow possible—or no pillow at all.

If you tweak your sleep position and are still waking up tired or with back pain or body aches, it might be time to try a new bed with better support—or to talk with a doctor about your bedtime blues. 

Sleep Divorce

Sharing a bed with your partner seems so romantic until the reality sets in. Issues like snoring, blanket hogging, early morning alarms, and even just a preference for different levels of mattress comfort can quickly sap the sexiness out of sleeping together. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep next to your loved one, the solution may be simpler than you think.

Snoring is one of the biggest reasons that couples end up sleeping apart. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 37 million American adults snore regularly. As anyone who’s dealt with a snorer knows, it can be next to impossible to get a refreshing rest with that dreaded sound. When one partner always has to leave the bed, the idea of making separate sleeping quarters official starts to make sense.

Sleeping separately is increasingly common, although it may not seem like it. After all, not many couples are eager to announce that they’ve gone through a “sleep divorce”. The National Sleep Foundation found that one in four couples sleep in separate beds. Maintaining separate rooms can actually be a key to a strong and healthy relationship. Each partner gets a restful sleep, which not only improves one’s mood but also one’s overall health.

What about intimacy?

Despite the benefits of sleeping separately, you may be concerned about how it could impact intimacy. Initially, it may seem like a sleep divorce could interrupt your sex life and leave you lonely. However, many couples find that the opposite is true.

With separate sleeping quarters, couples have to make more of an effort to spend that quality time together in the bedroom. It adds a little spice and excitement when you take the time to create an inviting environment for a romantic evening. It can be an opportunity to make the most of that time together, rather than simply crashing out at the end of a long day next to your partner.

When sleep issues that lead couples to have separate beds are eliminated, the result can be healthier, happier couples. You’ll be well rested after a night of sleep, leaving you feeling more relaxed and refreshed overall. Feeling your best can absolutely contribute to a better sex life and a better marriage.

Can Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) help you sleep better?

Traditionally, insomniacs have lent on sleeping pills, Hypnotherapy, Acupuncture and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to try and find the sleep that eludes them. CBT teaches you to recognise negative thoughts (I am worried I won’t get enough sleep tonight) and shut them down to avoid negative behaviours (now I can’t fall asleep as I am so worried about it).

However, there is now a new therapy available for insomniacs that advises against avoiding negative thoughts and it is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT.

“ACT helps you see how futile it can be putting energy into trying to change the thoughts and feelings that crop up around sleep. It teaches you to accept their presence and let them go, which in turn pushes you towards sleep”, says Guy Meadows, who has recently released ‘The Sleep Book’ that describes how to implement ACT techniques to ease sleeplessness over five weeks.

Early metacognitive research studies have shown a good outcomes, but what exactly is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

There are six steps that make up this approach:

  1. Acceptance

Rather than embarking on strategies such as hot baths, accept the things that show up when you try to sleep, such as unwanted thoughts.

  1. Mindfulness

Try and be in the present moment. Rather than worrying about the past, or what might happen in the future, take time out to ground yourself.

  1. Defusion

This is about defusing the sleep bomb: you need to start getting closer to and even playing with your unwanted thoughts and emotional reactions associated with insomnia in order to untangle yourself from them and lessen their power.

  1. Self in context

Put yourself and the situation into context. We have lots of stories playing in our heads: ‘I’m a failure’ or ‘no one likes me’ and ‘everyone else can sleep and I can’t’. Be able to put yourself into context and stand outside them.

  1. Values

Think about what’s important to you. Family? Your friends? Being healthy? If you could write your epitaph, what would you want it to say?

  1. Committed action

There’s no point valuing something if you don’t act upon it. There’s no point valuing being fit and healthy if you never go to the gym. This is about committing to act towards those values by making small steps every day. A happy brain is a sleepy brain.

These six steps come from the book ‘The Sleep Book’. To look into this programme in more detail you can purchase it here.

Why you just won’t sleep well in a new hotel room

Many will bemoan that they struggle to sleep in a new place – no matter how great the accommodation may be.

Matthew Walker, a professor of Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, has explained why we will always feel tired after sleeping in a new environment.

In a recent interview, Dr Walker explained how the human brain will not switch off when in a new and possibly dangerous environment– even when sleeping.

He said: “One half of your brain will not sleep as deeply as the other half” in an attempt to ensure survival. It is as if the sleeper is truly sleeping with one eye open.

He went on to explain that this is common behaviour for dolphins and other sea dwelling animals that can use half their brain for deep sleep and the other half to stay wide awake to detect danger.

Unlike these animals, us humans do not have the ability to enjoy all the sleep stages using just half our brain, and so we will not enter deep sleep. This leads to us feeling shattered the next morning.

If you are on the road, or spend lots of time away from home, try to spend more than one night at each stop that you make to ensure that you get some quality sleep before moving onto the next town.

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Stronger core = better sleep

Can getting stronger abs, get you better sleep? Damn straight it can! A strong core = better sleep.

Your diaphragm is a band of muscles that separates your internal organs (like your stomach, liver and colon) from your chest cavity (that contains your heart and lungs). The diaphragm is like a hammock that is pulled tight by your core muscles.

A solid core means a happier diaphragm which means healthier, deeper, more nourishing breathing.

So yes, a stronger core could mean better sleep for you if you suffer from conditions like sleep apnoea.

Your internal organs are housed within your core. Abdominal fat cushions and protects these organs from harm, however, too much abdominal fat can hurt your spine while standing and put pressure onto your vital organs while sleeping.

Strong abdominal and back muscles use fat to keep them functioning which helps burn up any unhelpful fat that is lying near them.

This helps to keep blood flowing to our organs so that they can perform optimally.

The larger you are, the harder your heart has to work. So strengthening your core could mean that your heart gets stronger and gets to relax more when you are sleeping.

A smaller waste circumference is linked to lower risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Lastly, your spine has to carry the excess load you lug around each day.

If back pain is keeping you up then strengthening your core could help reduce the pain and get you snoozing more deeply.

Furthermore, if your pain is so bad that you can only sleep when taking pain-killers, then strengthening your core could help you reduce the frequency and/or dosage of pain meds.

So what are you waiting for? Figure out what work outs work for you by trying into high-intensity, yoga or pilates to get a stronger core.

Here is a secret weapon to fight hayfever

For many South African, Spring is not as cheerful as it should be thanks to the itching, coughing and sneezing that accompanies their hayfever.

Hayfever is caused by an allergic reaction to allergens – which during Spring are mostly pollens from blossoming trees and plants.

If you suffer from hayfever, then taking oral anti-histamines once or twice a day can help relieve your allergies during the day and give you better quality sleep at night.

Research has shown that anti-histamines can decrease snoring, sleep apnea and nasal congestion if caused by an allergic reaction. Many allergy sufferers aren’t sleeping well due to this itchiness, stuffiness and difficulty breathing. Hence, by treating the allergy their sleep automatically benefits.

Whilst many health professionals recommend eradicating or limiting the source of your allergies this can be impossible with hayfever – air is everywhere!

Your Secret Weapon To Fight Hayfever

If your reaction is severe and you cannot get it under control with antihistamines then here are some more steps you could take-

  1. Wash out your eyes, nasal passages and sinuses with warm, salty water.
  2. Spring clean your home to get rid of air-born allergens that may have built up over Winter.
  3. Ask your GP for a cortisone injection which will decrease your body’s reaction to the allergens or ask your homeopath for an alternative medicine such as colloidal silver which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Choose to sleep on a Sealy mattress that are made from bamboo and aloe vera fabrics that are known for their non-allergenic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-dustmite properties. Allergy sufferers sleep better on a Sealy that is built to repel allergens.

Remember, this season shall pass and so should your hayfever!

Jewels are a girls best friend! Discover your perfect sleep companion with the Sealy Crown Jewel Collection.

Lack of sleep will make you feel lonelier

In a study published on 14 August 2018, researchers Eti Ben Simon and Matthew P Walker unveiled four interesting connections between sleep and loneliness. In this blog we examine the first two connections that their research unveiled.

Firstly, it appears that a lack of sleep makes people feel lonelier than they would if they had more sleep.

The study asked 140 people aged 18 – 24 years old to track their sleep and feelings over a few days. The researchers found that people who reported poor sleep from one night to the next also reported an increase in feelings of loneliness the next day, whilst those who got better sleep reported less loneliness. After one night of good sleep, the feelings of loneliness returned to normal.

Secondly, the people who interacted with the sleep-deprived person left the interaction feeling lonelier themselves.

The participants felt rejected by those displaying loneliness and it made them feel lonely too.

The researchers noted that there may be a “viral contagion of social isolation” linked to sleep loss. This means that loneliness is contagious and if somebody close to you is experiencing sleep loss as well as loneliness, then your mood will be impacted by it too.

Getting a good night’s sleep is good for you and those around you. Do it for your country- get to bed!

Get your perfect night’s sleep in your perfect Sealy. Discover the full range of Sealy beds on our website.

When is the best time to wake up so that I can be at my best?

Can you imagine a life where you did not have to wake up at any given time?

Where your waking would be based purely on our body’s needs not on your adult responsibilities?

In this blog we examine the debate surrounding what the best time to wake up really is.

Here are the two leading theories about the dream wake-up time…

Theory 1: You should wake up when your body is ready to

This theory leans heavily on the idea that sleep is good and that your body will take only the sleep it needs. It also acknowledges individual sleep needs as well as varying sleep needs within individuals.  Common sense says that on different days one will need a different amount of sleep depending on one’s current health, that day’s energy expenditure, what was eaten and what was learned.

Drawbacks

The difficulty is in applying this theory. Very few individuals can afford the luxury of not knowing when they will wake up the next day. And many who have nothing to wake up for may find their sleep and wake up times get later and later and out of sync with light/dark cycle. This can be detrimental to their mental health or productivity.

Theory 2: You should wake up at the same time everyday

This theory is popular with those who believe in the ‘good of all’ rather than the good of the individual. Army barracks, boarding schools, Special Forces, in fact anyone working in an industrialised nation will have to fit their sleep needs into the mainstream schedule. This theory is helpful in terms of promoting regular, routine sleep which we know assists the body’s circadian rhythm.

Drawbacks

What it does not do is acknowledge that there are many ways to skin a rabbit. Whilst some may need a strict ‘lights out’ policy others may do better with a shorter night sleep plus a day nap.

Which theory fits your idea of a good night’s sleep?

Would you sleep better if left to find your own rhythm?

Or do you need external measures such as strict sleep/wake times to get the rest you need?

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Beat Your Alarm Clock

With sleep trending and a good night’s sleep being the hallmark of a good life, it is no wonder that the ultimate sleep goal has become waking up when your body wants to, not when your body has to. Yes, waking up before your alarm wakes you is an actual #sleepgoal.

As an alarm-clock detester it is pleasing to note that our bodies hate alarm clocks as much as our minds do. Our bodies and minds find any sudden waking stressful and jarring. Interestingly, to avoid this traumatic experience our brains prepare for waking based on two things-

  1. Predictability- our routine shapes our circadian rhythm
  2. Expectations- what time we plan to wake up

So if you are not waking up before your alarm clock here is your go-to-action plan:

  • Schedule a predictable sleep-wake routine– go to bed at the same time during the week and on weekends. Easier said than done but sleeping from 11pm until 6.30am every day could give you the stable 7,5 hours you need.
  • Plan to wake at the end of a sleep cycle –Every 90 minutes adults come back to light sleep. It is easier to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle than in the middle of one. So if you need more than 7,5 hours, you will have to schedule in 9 hours sleep. So you sleep schedule would be from 9.30pm – 6.30am.
  • Get enough sleep– If you need 9 hours of sleep, then that is what your body needs. You will only be robbing yourself if you schedule in 6hours or 7,5 hours. Those who are young, active and perform work that requires mental agility will need more sleep. It is what it is.
  • Until you start waking up before your alarm set one alarm and avoid hitting snooze- Haziness. Grumpiness. This is what follows multiple snoozes. Your brain and body need to either be asleep or be awake- moving back and forward between the two states only creates brain fog. Place your alarm as far away from your bed as possible to give yourself more chance of making a good judgement call.

Ensure you fall asleep quickly and have a great night’s sleep by sleeping on a quality mattress. Visit www.sealy.co.za for more information.

Gender differences and sleep

Women and men think differently. This fact is well-established. What is less well-known is that men and women have different sleep needs and react differently to sleep-deprivation.

Let’s look at some research regarding these statements.

  1. Women need more sleep than men the same age.

The theory behind this is that women use more areas of their brains during the day thanks to multi-tasking and interpreting complex socio-emotional information. A female brain is a busy brain and as such requires longer to repair and recover- an average of 20 minutes longer each night than a man according to the National Sleep Foundation.

  1. The female brain ages more slowly than the male brain.

Interestingly, it is thought that this added brain utilization and need for sleep is responsible for a women’s brain ageing slower than a man’s. ‘A typical 75-year-old woman has a comparable brain age to a 70-year-old man,’ Professor Horne a specialist in the area of Gynaecology and Reproductive Health from The University of Edinburgh.

  1. Sleep-deprived women perform worse than sleep-deprived men.

The female brain is more sensitive to sleep-deprivation. The female hormonal cycle is also thrown off by lack of sleep. The combination of both neurological and hormonal impairment due to lack of sleep means that a sleep-deprived woman will function worse than a man. In the short-term, women will show more difficulty with attention, working memory, long-term memory and decision-making.

In the long-term, women are more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer than men reports Dr Edward Suarez.

Over the month of August we will be looking closer at the issue of women and sleep. Arianna Huffington has declared women’s sleep ‘the next feminist issue‘, arguing that a lack of sleep affects a woman’s judgment, creativity and ability to realise their full potential.

Discover our sleep accessories to perfect your good night!