Monday, March 16, 2009

"Dr. Rob I think I need a new mattress!"

Today is going to be short and sweet as I know most of you have shorter-than-normal attention spans on Monday mornings. I myself think the weekends are much to short and am never happy to hear the alarm go off early Monday morning.

So, this is a fairly common concern people share with me either before we start care or soon after we start care. Pain in the neck, back, and/or hips in the morning upon waking. The complaint could also be just general tightness. Although in some cases a new mattress would be very beneficial, it is usually not the culprit here.

The biggest problem here is positioning!

Most people do not consider the positions they are sleeping in at night. If you stay in a static (meaning not moving) position for as many as 8 hours, poor positioning of yourself can most definitely either cause problems or aggravate any problems that may already exist. The trick to sleeping correctly is maintaining the most normal alignment for your spine and joints as possible.

The two positions are laying flat on your back or lying on your side with a thin pillow between the knees to prevent them from crossing over and torquing. For a little more comfort on your back, adding a thin pillow behind the knees to cause a slight bend will relax the muscles in the lower back. The worst possible position to sleep in is on your stomach and 1 or both arms above your head. Another big no-no is sleeping on multiple or very thick pillows.

Usually, when my patients correct their sleeping habits, they are able to have more restful sleep and do not wake up with those little aches and pains. This is a much cheaper alternative than buying an expensive mattress. Now sometimes, you just need a new one but most of the time it's the positioning. I know it's hard for some of you to accept it is the user and not the equipment. I have added a photo illustrating proper sleeping positioning to further drive home the point.

As always I look forward to hearing your comments...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Rob,

I am incapable of movement while sleeping. Once I fell a sleep with a bottled water on my forehead (it was an exhausting day) and when I awoke hours later the bottle startled me and I knocked it off sending a shower of water across the room. I generally sleep on my back as you instruct. My wife however is a wild sleeper. While I generally feel well she will wake with aches and pains. The thing is, is she honestly tries to remain still and comfortable while sleeping but to no avail. Any ideas on getting her to stop moving at night while sleeping? Sedatives are ineffective.