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A Good Night's sleep ....Ahhh

I LOVE sleep! My favorite part of the day is when I can lie down in a horizontal fashion, take a deep breath and just relax. My body doesn't have to fight the effects of gravity and my mind can allow relaxation to set in.


On the other end of the spectrum is the sleepless nights! You know, the ones filled with pain and discomfort. The nights that I just can't find a good position to sleep in. The ones where my mind wanders and it won't shut off. My mother once said to me, "I wish that I could just take my arms off and hang them up for the night so I didn't have to sleep on my painful shoulder!" That would be amazing wouldn't it? Anyone who has had shoulder pain can agree with that. The worst position is lying on that painful shoulder.


I always tell my patients that sleep is incredibly important. It is the time when your body repairs itself. My great grandma used to say that you can just about watch a baby grow when he sleeps. She was right! Our body repairs itself with sleep. Our blood can easily flow through our bodies bringing nutrients to every cell while flushing away toxins that have built up during our active day. Generally speaking our bodies are relatively stress free while sleeping allowing good oxygen exchange and little resistance.


So the big question is how do I get a good nights sleep? There are a million answer to that and at least as many obstacles. Firstly, avoid pain. Avoid sleeping directly on painful areas. Shoulders are especially sensitive to the pressure of your body weight. If you're young and romantic, don't let someone's head lie on your arm for the entire night. There is a name for that numbness that happens when you do this. It is called Saturday Night Palsy. Falling asleep with the pressure of, (usually) a head on your arm can compromise the circulation and nerve transmission and make your arm numb. Usually for just a few minutes but it can conceivably last a lot longer.


The big picture is that you don't want any added pressure on your body while you sleep. All the marketing for beds and pillows try to put you in a pressure free environment . It is up to you to find those pain free positions. The best position is on your back. This is not a comfortable position for everybody and certainly if you snore, it can be awful for your bed partner.


Low back pain can be exacerbated when you are on your back, so a pillow or two might be in order under your knees. If this doesn't work, try sidelying. Be careful to avoid the lying on your painful side. Always try and keep your body in good alignment. Use pillows to avoid bony areas. Put a pillow in between your knees or better yet, stack two pillow in front of our legs and put your top leg on them so it doesn't drop down in front of your body and cause your torso to twist.


Choose a pillow that suits your body! We are all different sizes, so a flatter pillow will not be as comfortable for a larger person. Your head should be in alignment with your body. It should not be flexed forward nor should your head be dropping down.


Remember NEUTRAL!! I have gone through at least 20 different pillows and have spent a ridiculous amount of money trying to find the perfect pillow. The pillow I have now is close to perfect for me. Not everyone is the same, it is important to follow guidelines and find the pillow (and/or bed) that is right for you.


Sleep tight, Good Night :)

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