Why you shouldn't always listen to a chiropractor's recommendation.

Sleeping Comfortably

April 27, 2009
Healthy Sleep

The following is a guest blog by Dr. Adam Tanase of Chiropractic St Louis.

As a chiropractor, part of my job is to help patients make healthier choices that improve their quality of life. The topic of sleep, sleep position, pillows, and mattress types are often discussed in my office.

Our bodies make repairs and heal while sleeping, so it’s important to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

Sleep position is important as well. No matter how comfortable it may seem, never sleep on your stomach! Sleep on your back, or sleep on your side, but stomach-sleeping is terrible for the spine and can contribute to the development of spinal degeneration, including arthritis and disc herniation.

If you’re waking up with back or neck pain, you’re likely a stomach sleeper or using multiple pillows. When sleeping on your back or side, make sure to use just one pillow. Stacking pillows flexes the head improperly, putting a strain on spinal muscles and joints.

As for pillows, I do not encourage the use of feather/down pillows. They’re incredibly unsupportive and can induce chronic neck pain. My personal preference is a latex pillow. They’re affordable, supportive, and can last for years without much wear.

We spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping. That’s an average of 25 years or more in bed, so buying the right mattress is very important. Don’t buy a water bed – these are perhaps the worst beds ever designed (second only to a bed of nails). I also do not recommend purchasing beds with a “pillow top.” These seem comfortable at first, but after a few weeks, the top begins to break down, and an imprint of your body appears where you sleep.

I do not have a favorite brand of mattress for the recommendation. Patients ask me this question all the time, but it’s really about personal preference. Generally speaking, your mattress should be supportive and slightly firm. A bed that is very bouncy/springy will dip, and in time, can cause you to wake up in pain.

No matter what type of mattress you use, it should always be flat. Common sense, right? Not so much. Dips and valleys are a recipe for chronic pain, and you’d be surprised how easily they develop over time. All the chiropractic care in the world can’t undo what a bad mattress does to you during the night.

If you’re on a budget, I recommend buying a fairly basic, entry-level bed with foundation. Then cover it with a quality 3″ memory foam mattress topper that has 4-lb density or higher. When it comes to memory foam, the density is more important than the thickness (4″ topper with 3-lb density will not last as long as a 3″ topper with 4-lb density).

Following these tips can help improve the quality of your sleep. If your pillow, sleep position, and mattress are all acceptable, but you’re still waking up in pain, or not sleeping well, it’s time to meet with a chiropractor.

Just like a good chiropractor can’t fix the effects of a bad bed, a good bed can’t fix the effects of spinal misalignment. If you’d like to learn more about chiropractic care, you can visit my clinic website at www.bigideaclinic.com, or call 314-749-9006.

Warm wishes,
Dr. Adam Tanase

The opinions expressed here are those of the guest blogger and does not necessarily reflect the views of StLBeds.com.