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Sleep Hygiene

SPINE Sleep Hygiene             

Sleep and back pain can go hand in hand. Sleep deprivation can contribute to tight spine muscles, back fatigue and sensitivity to pain. Here is some general information about Sleep Hygiene:

What are some helpful tips to get to sleep?

  1. Go to sleep at the same time each night if possible. Stay within 20 minutes of that time each night. For instance, if you typically go to sleep at 9 pm, stay within 8:40 pm and 9:20 pm as your sleep time.
  2. Naps can interfere with nighttime sleep as they decrease the “sleep debt” which we accumulate normally during the day. “Sleep debt” is our normal need for nighttime sleep which is a result of all the energy we expand during the day.
  3. If you cannot fall asleep within 10-15 minutes after going to bed, do not stay in bed. It may be best to sit on a couch or chair in the dark until sleepy. Watching is usually not recommended as it stimulates the brain.
  4. Try to avoid reading or watching TV in bed before you go sleep as your mind may learn to associate the bed with wakefulness.
  5. Avoid large meals before bedtime. The process of digestion can keep one awake. Eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
  6. Avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda, etc.) after 12 noon. The effect from caffeine can last for hours after ingestion.
  7. Cigarettes and alcohol can disrupt the sleep cycle. Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime.
  8. Avoid exercise before going to sleep. Endorphins released by exercising can interfere with sleep.
  9. Set the nighttime temperature lower than daytime. This promotes better sleep. For instance if the thermostat is at 70 degrees during the day, lower it to 68 degrees at night.
  10. Avoid lights and noise in the bedroom before going to sleep.
  11. A bath or shower before bedtime can help getting to sleep easier.
  12. Get a comfortable mattress.
  13. Spend time in the sun during the day or let natural sunlight enter the house. This helps the body regulate the sleep cycle.

How much sleep do we need?

  1. There is no magic number of hours of sleep needed for adults.
  2. Sleep needs are different for people of the same age and gender. I other words one 30 year old female may need 7 hours of sleep while another woman for the same age needs 9 hours of sleep.
  3. “Basal Sleep Need” is our usual nighttime need for sleep. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep as a “basal sleep need”.
  4. “Sleep Debt” builds up when we have less sleep than our required Basal Sleep Need”.
  5. If we have significant Sleep Debt built up, we can still feel tired even after getting our basal sleep need. For instance if we slept for 6 hours the night before and then sleep for 8 hours the next night, we may still be tired the following morning. We are still behind by 2 hours of sleep at that point.
  6. Sleep Debt has to be factored into our sleep need. You can “pay off” your sleep debt if you add time to your basal sleep needs. For instance, for an 8 hour Basal Sleep Need, we should sleep for 10 hours if we slept 6 hours the night before.
  7. Research suggests that sleeping chronically less than 7 hours or more than 8 hours can have negative health effects.

What can happen when we are sleep deprived?

Sleep deprivation can have some bad consequences. Here are some examples:

  1. Increased risk of car accidents
  2. Increased appetite which can lead to obesity
  3. Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
  4. Increased risk of depression
  5. Increased risk of substance abuse
  6. Decreased attention span
  7. Decreased reflexes
  8. Decreased productivity