By Oliva Wilson
It has been said that one could survive for three times as long without food as one could without sleep.
Sleep is something that we all need, and the quality of sleep we get can have a huge impact on our daily lives. When we’re well rested, we’re more productive, nicer to be around and better at handling the challenges of the day, but it’s estimated that around 30-50% of the global population will suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives.
While one may understand the importance of sleep, it can sometimes feel like there is little that can be done to naturally end an ongoing insomnia.
But, people looking for cures of insomnia are less likely to consider physiotherapy, but it’s actually a great way to address the underlying cause of poor slumber.
Surprisingly, physiotherapy is really effective for a bout of sleeplessness.
Physiotherapists look at the body as a whole in order to determine why a patient is not getting as restful a night as they need. After asking the required questions and determining if there are any external factors such as stress or worry causing issues with sleep, physiotherapists examine a patient physically in order to make sure their posture isn’t hindering their restful night’s sleep.
Physiotherapy is the best cure for sleeplessness if one is suffering from OSAHS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea-hypopnea Syndrome) or lower back pain.
- OSAHS (Obstructive Sleep Apnea-hypopnea Syndrome): While sleeping, some people experience upper airway collapse causing their breathing to be reduced or to stop altogether. There are several treatment options of OSAHS, but for long-term results, people turn to physiotherapy.
- Lower back pain: Lower back pain is often a symptom expressed by people who also have sleep disorders. In fact, 55 percent of patients complaining about sleeplessness recently experienced an onset of back pain. Lack of sleep lowers the pain threshold and the mental capacity of the body to manage pain, and it has been discovered that better daytime pain control may lead to improved sleep quality. Therefore, it can be concluded that using physiotherapy to cure back pain may also correct sleeplessness.
Physiotherapy guide for a good sleep
Below are several basic points to keep in mind to get a good and uninterrupted sleep from physiotherapy point of view:
A good posture is a key to restful sleep, as is choosing the right mattress and pillows. A night of poor sleep may mean the following day leaves you feeling grumpy, unable to concentrate, walking around like a zombie or physically exhausted.
- Sleep posture: There are four main sleeping postures: lying on the right or left side, on your front, on your back or in the foetus position.
- Lying on either side or the foetus position: Lying on your side posture has many forms. Some people lie with their knees slightly bent and both arms resting by their side, or stretch them out in front. Others may adopt the foetus position with their knees bent high, at a right angle to the body. While lying on the side, in cases of the mattress being soft or the sleeper having an hourglass figure, sinking into the bed may cause an asymmetrical strain to the lower back and in extreme cases, an unnecessary pressure to the hip could lead to burstitis i.e. inflammation of the sack of fluid on the side of the hip, especially if the sleeper is overweight.
- Adopting the front position: Some people lie on their front with arms wrapped around the pillow or by their sides while others place their hands around the pillow and turn their head to one side. Physiotherapy does not encourage this posture as the sleeper is likely move out of the midline position and cause an asymmetrical strain to the neck.
- Sleeping on the back: Lying on the back can be of two types – your arms are pinned to your sides or they are up around the pillow. If the legs are kept straight, it causes the back to arch which leads to unnecessary strain on the structures of the lower back.
- Pillows to use: The type and number of pillows to be used depend on how wide your shoulders are along with the sleeping position and personal preferences. You may use an orthopedic pillow, which is a pre-shaped pillow designed to fully support the neck and head. When determining the number of pillows to use, keep in mind that having too many may mean they tilt your neck forward or too few pillows may tilt your head backwards. Similarly, while lying on your side be sure the gap between your head and shoulders is filled by pillows so in order to keep your neck correctly aligned. Find a balance that enables you to maintain the midline position.
- Choosing the right mattress: It is extremely important to find the mattress that suits your needs. Physiotherapy recommends a mixture of support and comfort urging you to opt for a mattress that is on the firm side of medium. Try out a few before buying – lying on each for at least 20 minutes at a time and be sure it is supportive in keeping you in the midline position. If sleeping with a partner, consider the differences in body weight for levels of support required. Purchasing two single mattresses for a double bed may help here.
Above all, physiotherapy says that 95 percent people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and poor posture is to blame in most of the cases. Thus, looking after your back is vital to a good night’s sleep.