4. Pre-Bed Don’ts:
A. Beverages & Tobacco:
Caffeine and nicotine not only make it difficult to fall asleep but also make it impossible to maintain a good quality sleep. Alcohol although known to help in sleep induction but it is bad for sleep maintenance as body starts to metabolize alcohol during later part of the night.
Spicy, citrus, fatty and fried foods cause nighttime stomach pain and burning and can potentially disturb the sleep. Hence these foods should be avoided during few hours before bed.
C. Mind Blowing Activities:
An emotionally disturbing conversation, an exciting book, a thriller or horror movie right before going to bed can increase brain activity leading to difficulty in falling asleep, so should be avoided for a good quality sleep.
5. Sleeping Environment:
A. General Environment:
Sleeping environment should be made as comfortable as possible by shutting down irritating stimuli such as bright lights and loud noises. This can be achieved by using, blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs etc.
Ideally the mattress should be such that it conforms easily with the contours of your body and pillow should be such that it neither raises your head above the body level nor lets it slant downwards as compared to rest of the body.
6. Sleeping Position:
A. Sleeping Supine:
Sleeping on your back has been termed winner as your spine gets the optimum support in this position and as your mouth and esophagus are higher than your stomach hence it also reduces the gastric acid reflux considerably. Its only drawback is that sleep apnea can be precipitated in predisposed persons and it gets worsened in those who are already suffering from it.
Sleeping on your side is the second best position. Sleeping in the left lateral position is recommended for pregnant women to optimize blood supply to the heart. It is the best position for those who are suffering from sleep apnea and snore.
C. Sleeping on The Stomach:
It is worst of the sleeping positions as it does not support natural curve of the spine leading to exaggeration of normal lumbar lordosis putting extra shear forces on the spine and inter-vertebral joints. This sleeping position puts extra stress on all the other joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments leading to development of chronic body aches and pains. In this position sleeping person’s neck is tightly turned towards one side, which not only causes severe pain in neck but also leads to early degeneration of joints between cervical vertebrae and development of wrinkles on the cheeks, around the eyes and on the forehead.
It has only one benefit and it is that it suits those who have sleep apnea and snore. However its drawbacks very easily outweigh this benefit.
D. Sleeping in Fetal Position:
It is a side-sleeping position with knees and chin curled into chest. Although this position feels very comfortable and cozy to begin with but it puts extra pressure on the neck, back and knee joints. If someone is habitual of sleeping in this position then he or she is prone to develop neck, back and joint pains. Hence this position should be avoided.
7. Stop Snoring:
Snoring is abnormal, loud breathing sound while one is asleep. It usually occurs in males and obese people and is quite a problem for the bed partner. It occurs due to obstruction to air flow through respiratory passages. This obstruction can be because of blocked nose, lax muscles of throat and tongue, massive tissues of the throat area and lengthy palate and uvula.
It can be addressed by implementing sleep hygiene practices as already mentioned. In addition precipitating factors can also be addressed such as clearing the nose, debulking surgery at the back of the throat, palatal lifts and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). CPAP throws the air directly to the back of the throat and hence prevents the palate from collapsing.