At our Osteopathic clinic in Glen Iris, our Osteopaths have recently been receiving a lot of questions about trying to get a good night sleep. Some of our clients are waking with back pain, neck pain and headaches, all due to a poor nights sleep. So what can be done?

The very mention of sleep will have some of us rolling our eyes and reliving last night’s battle for a restful night. But to give yourself the best chance of a good nights sleep, we need to address your Sleep hygiene. What is this? Well, sleep hygiene is something that describes the habits that enable you to get a good refreshing nights sleep, night after night. We often see those with poor habits and poor sleep hygiene are those that struggle to sleep. Common sleeping problems (such as insomnia) are often caused by poor sleeping habits reinforced over years or even decades.

So what makes for good sleep hygiene?  Below are a few areas to look at when trying to change your sleeping habits: 

  1. Bed Time: Try stick to the same bedtime and waking time – even on the weekends. This aims to regulate your bodies internal clock. A strict routine will help “set” your body clock and soon you’ll find yourself getting sleepy around the same time each night.
  2. Pre Sleep Ritual: Having  a “Pre Sleep ritual”  or a relaxing routine prior to bed will help wind you down. Your body needs time to adjust and differentiate it from your day time activity. Meditation, deep breathing, calming music will all help prepare the brain and body for sleep. Try and stick to the same modality, rather than chop and change.
  3. SCREEN TIME: This goes without saying. We are all aware we spend too much time on our devices Try and reduce electronic devices before bed. They not only stimulate the brain, but the light makes it hard for the brain to rest. Opt for a book, meditation or some other calming pre bed activity.
  4. Evaluate your RoomAssessing your room temperature, light, pillows and mattress. Your room should be free from as much external noise and light as possible.

    – A good mattress should last about 10 years. If you are waking with back and hip pain – and your mattress is getting on in years it may be a good option to explore a new one.

    – Pillow – your pillow should provide enough support between your neck and your shoulder. If you are waking with neck pain, stiffness or headaches you may need to find a new pillow.

  5. Change of Venue. After about 15-20 minutes of lying awake in bed and failing to get to sleep, maybe try a change of venue. Lying awake worrying about all the sleep you are NOT getting is not productive. When changing rooms, try not to stimulate yourself too much or turn on bright lights. Sitting quietly mediating, deep breathing or listening to relaxing music and only returning to your bed when you are drowsy again.
  6. Change your thinking: New thinking suggests that believing you should be sleeping for 8 hours solid may be unrealistic. Adult sleep cycles occur every 90 minutes, so your brain may become more alert between cycles. When this occurs if we wake – we can often panic about waking, which further stimulates the brain making it harder to fall back asleep.  Rather than panic – listen to your body, have you woken because are cold? Do you need to go to the bathroom? If the answer is yes, address the problem, if not, understand that waking can be part of a normal sleep cycle. Accepting this phase of the sleep cycle helps reduce the worry that you are not getting 8 hours solid.
  7. Exercise daily. Exercise improves the bodies circadian rhythms resulting in greater daytime alertness and increased sleepiness at night. Avoid exercising too close to your bed time as exercise releases endorphins and hormones which may make it hard to sleep.

Neck pain caused by sleep in Glen Iris

Trying to follow the above tips will hopefully have you sleeping like a baby.. well maybe not a baby, as they wake every 4 hours screaming… but they will hopefully have you looking forward to bed time and enjoying some restful sleep.

As usual if you have any questions in relation to your body, or sleep patterns please feel free to ask the staff at Equilibrium Sports and Spinal Clinic.