Both the length and quality of your nightly shut-eye can affect your physical and mental health — including the health of your spine.
Whether you get a restful night's sleep is contingent upon a variety of factors, but when it comes to improving spine health during sleep, your mattress is a good place to focus your attention. Your back and spinal health are susceptible to damage if you do not have spinal care bedding that's suited to your body.
What is spinal care bedding? It's a mattress and general sleep setup that is optimized for spine health. Think about how your mattress contours to your body; a mattress that suits your back well can make a big difference in how your spine feels.
What Is a Spinal Care Mattress?
According to a Consumer Reports survey, of the three common types of mattresses — foam, innerspring and adjustable air — people with joint, neck and back pain were most satisfied sleeping on an adjustable air mattress. Air mattresses are modifiable, sometimes allowing you to adjust different sections of your bed to different levels of firmness for optimal comfort.
However, it's important to note that not every mattress will be appropriate for every form of back pain, and you should research carefully to find the best option for you. Ask your doctor, "What is a spinal care mattress?" and carefully compare your options when shopping for one. Ideally, a mattress should be both firm and comfortable; it should support your spine, but allow it to maintain its natural curve. If you sleep on your side, your hips and shoulders shouldn't sink into the mattress too much as this may throw off the curve of your spine.
Be sure to also get a supportive pillow to avoid damage to your neck. If you are a side sleeper, you might try to sleep with a pillow between your legs for better spine support, too.
How Good Is Your Sleep Health?
When it comes to maintaining optimal overall health, one of the best things you can do for yourself is get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says that sleep needs differ at various ages; infants, toddlers, school-aged children and teens require more than the adult requirement of 7–9 hours per night.
However, everyone has different sleep needs based on factors like your body's base need for sleep, sleep quality, pregnancy and sleep debt — missed sleep that you owe your body. Sleep debt can add up in healthcare costs, as well as lost professional productivity that costs the U.S. an estimated total of $66 billion each year. Plus, lack of sleep causes a significant number of driving accidents, injuries and deaths every year.
Keeping a sleep journal can help you assess if you're getting enough sleep. Chronicle how you feel after you wake up. Do you feel well-rested, or are you lethargic, agitated or moody during the day? If you aren't waking up feeling well-rested, try gradually moving your bedtime earlier in 15-minute increments.
Invest in a Good Night's Sleep
There is no doubt that getting restful sleep with the proper mattress can do wonders for your physical health and happiness. If you are sleeping eight hours a night on a mattress that doesn't support the natural curve of your spine, then you're missing out a lot of health benefits. If you wake up with a stiff back or pain, then it's time to rethink your sleep position and consider the question, "What is spinal care bedding that I could invest in?"
In addition, if you are not getting enough sleep, rethink your sleep hygiene by going to bed earlier, turning off distracting lights, getting ear plugs, avoiding alcohol and caffeine prior to bed and eating lighter at night. Meditation before bed can quiet your mind, relax your body and help you sleep better, too.