Steps To Sleep Properly

Everyone has that certain sweet spot that helps them achieve a better night’s sleep. Studies show that 63% of Americans sleep on their side. 14% sleep on their back, and 16% sleep on their stomach. Whether you are a side sleeper or a back sleeper, you may be wondering which position will get you the best night’s sleep.

 

Which side of your body is the best to sleep on? Is it true that sleeping on your side is the healthiest position to sleep in? Believe it or not, every has a different natural resting posture they return to when sleeping. The body tends to naturally move itself into a position it finds comfortable. It also will seek a position that opens up the airways the best. People who have obstructed breathing problems will find themselves sleeping in different positions than others. Because of all these variables, some people prefer sleeping on their back, while others on their stomach.

 

Those who snore or suffer from sleep apnea will not be recommended to sleep on their backs. Sleeping on one’s back restricts the overall airflow to the body. If you have breathing problems while sleeping, the best thing to do is to sleep on your side. For back pain, sleeping on your side is better. Sleeping on your side puts less overall pressure on your spine, helping ease things like lower back pain. Try putting a pillow between your legs to raise your thighs to a parallel level for added relief.

 

Even more fascinating is that sleeping on different sides of your body can have different effects. For example, sleeping on your left side is an easy way to relieve heartburn. Sleeping on your right side can irritate heartburn symptoms. Furthermore, it is recommended that pregnant women sleep on their left side to increase blood circulation to the baby.

 

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended, as it can put strain on your back. If sleeping on your stomach is the way you sleep, it’s a good idea to take steps to relieve the stress on your back. Placing a pillow under your pelvis can help ease some of this. Also, sleeping without a pillow under your head will help the spine achieve a more natural shape.

 

The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to do what works for you. Don’t switch up your typically sleep position unless it’s for medical reasons. Switching will harm the quality of your sleep and make you feel less rested in the morning. Believe it or not, your mattress has a huge influence on how well you get to sleep at night. A comfortable mattress with always be superior to an uncomfortable one. However, if your mattress is worn out or old, slopes can appear or depressions. These can make it tricky for you to sleep on the side that you desire, and may cause you to shift while you are asleep. If this sounds like one of your mattresses, it may be time for a replacement!

 

The Stages of Sleep

Of all the phenomena that we experience on a daily basis, sleep is one of the least understood and most studied of all.  When you sleep, the body goes through a series of stages as it shuts down and enters a period of inactivity.  There are four primary stages of sleep, which we will discuss in detail below.  Knowing the stages of sleep will help you get a better sleep overall, and pave the way to you getting the most out of your day.

Need for sleep

Just why do we sleep anyway?  Scientists have been searching for an answer for some time, to no clear conclusion.  It’s no secret that we need it.  Prolonging the need for sleep a few hours in one night can have your body paying for it.  But why exactly do we?  There are a few different theories that scientists have put together.  One theory is that sleep is a survival mechanic that encourages us to becoming inactive at night, when survival is the most dangerous.  Another theory puts out that sleep gives the body a period of inactivity to conserve the energy that the body needs to survive.  Probably the most discussed and most likely theory is that the body uses sleep as a period to restore and rebuild.  In a sense it helps the body maintain itself through the daily grind of life.  This theory also hold the most weight, as you need less and less sleep the older you get.  Whatever the reason, we definitely need it.

Types of SleepSleep

There are two primary groups of sleep that all other stages of sleep are subgroups of.  They are NREM, or Non-rapid Eye Movement sleep, and REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep.  NREM sleep consists of the stages 1-4 of sleep, while REM follows the four stages.  Once REM sleep occurs, the entire cycle starts over again, beginning at stage 1 again.

Once your body begins to prepare itself for sleep, it begins producing what are called Beta Waves.  These brain waves relax the brain and begin slowing down bodily funtions.  Once the brain and body begin to slow down, the brain begins producing Alpha Waves, which are slower than Beta Waves.

Once your body begins producing Alpha waves, the brain moves into Stage 1 of sleep.  Stage 1 is an extremely light stage of sleep, and one can be woken easily.  Stage 1 is characterized by the production of Theta Waves.  As this stage is more of a transitional stage between wakefulness and sleep, most people won’t even perceive it as being asleep.  This stage typically lasts from five to ten minutes.  This is the best stage of sleep to wake up during.  Waking up during this stage of sleep will feel natural, and allow you get get up and go about your day easily.

Stage 2 lasts for around twenty minutes, and is characterized by the brain’s production of sleep spindles.  Sleep spindles are rapid, sudden, and rhythmic bursts of brain waves.  As these sleep spindles are created, the heart rate begins to slow and body temperature begins lowering.

Stage 3 is characterized by the production of delta waves.  Delta waves are the slowest of the brain waves produced during sleep.  During the stage the individual finally begins to reach a state of deep sleep.  Environmental stimuli will often fail to generate a response, and if the person is woken up, they will experience a state of discomfort and confusion.

The fourth and final stage of sleep is known as Stage 4.  During this stage, the body transitions into REM sleep.  During REM sleep, the muscles of the body become increasingly relaxed, while the brain becomes more active than ever.  This phenomenon is referred to as paradoxical sleep.  Because of the increased brain activity during this stage, dreaming usually occurs.  Because stage 4 is the heaviest stage of sleep, it is by far the worst stage to wake up during.  Waking up during stage 4 will result in heavy grogginess and a lack of energy.

After REM sleep occurs, the body reverts itself back to stage 1 and goes through the cycle again.  This process is known as the sleep cycle.  Throughout the night the body goes through periods of NREM and REM multiple times.  This is normal and is necessary for a healthy sleep.

Do Sharks Sleep?

Sharks are one of the most feared but least understood creatures in the sea today.  The subject of myths, legends, and movies, sharks are iconic as the great hunters of the sea.  Although they are fish, sharks have very unique biologies.  One of the most commonly asked questions about sharks is whether or not they sleep. Gills work by extracting oxygen from the surrounding water.  In order to do this, fish must constantly take in water into their gills.  This is called Ram ventilation.  While most fish have the ability to do this while sitting still, sharks do not.  Sharks evolved out their ability to take in water while sitting still.  Because of this, sharks are known as Obligate ram ventilators, meaning they must constantly swim to take in oxygen.

Unusual biology

SharkSharks have an unorthodox biology, even for fish.  Unlike traditional fish, sharks have no swim bladder.  Swim bladders provide buoyancy for fish, allowing them to float in place.  However, sharks to not have this, relying on the lift their fins provide in order to stay afloat.  If sharks stop moving, they will sink to the bottom.  Because of this, sharks are in a perpetual state of motion, constantly swimming.  Sharks rarely stop and nest on the ground.  But this isn’t only for buoyancy purposes.  While this may seem like a disadvantage at first, it actually holds many advantages for the sharks.  Because of a lack of swim bladder, sharks have the ability to dive to a variety of depths instead of being limited to just one as most fish are.  It allows sharks to be more mobile, coming and going as they please. In scientific studies of sharks, scientists noticed that sharks breathed more efficiently while swimming as opposed to resting on the ocean floor.  This keeps sharks swimming in an effort to gain more oxygen.  Counter intuitively, it is more energy efficient for sharks to continue moving than to simply rest.

Do Sharks Sleep?

This then poses the question, do sharks sleep?  For years it was hard to tell.  As sharks are constantly in motion, studying them to see if they sleep was a very difficult endeavor.  While it has never been proven definitively, small clues give us insight to the question.  Scientists studying small sharks have observed that the swimming motion of sharks is coordinated by the spinal cord, and not by the brain.  For this reason it is theorized that sharks sleep by continuing to swim with their spinal cord, and let their brain sleep. However, there are a few conflicting reports that throw a wrench into this hypothesis.  Water factors such as temperature, current, and salinity may affect sharks.  Reef sharks have been observed sleeping in caves in Mexico.  Discovery of the caves yielded dozens of sharks all dozing for the night.  Close inspection of the caves determined that the water in the caves had high oxygen levels, making it more energy efficient for the sharks to stay put than keep swimming. Great white sharks have observed the most unusual behavior recorded for shark sleep studies.  Geotagged Great White sharks have been observed in the Dyer Islands travelling to gullies at the bottom of the ocean and remaining stationary for hours.  The areas they have been observed doing this have currents passing through them, presumably bringing fresh ocean water into the sharks’ gills as they rest.  This would allow them to sleep while still getting enough oxygen. While the question hasn’t been settled for sure, it’s safe to presume that sharks to sleep to some degree.  What that looks like or if it even appears to be sleep at all is up for the verdict.

Best Pillow For Side Sleepers

Turning down the bed covers and fluffing the pillow comes with high expectations of a good night’s rest. If you’re tossing and turning all night and don’t feel on top of the world by morning, your pillow could be the culprit. Trying to determine what the best pillow for side sleepers is can be daunting however here is a great resource to help you.

The wrong support for your head, neck and shoulders can literally be a pain. Poor sleep patterns in the long term lead to weight gain, gastrointestinal disorders and high blood pressure. In the short term, your neck is throbbing or your arms feel like they’re still asleep. If you haven’t replaced your pillow in the last 18 months, it may no longer be doing its job.

What Are The Pillow Requirements For Side Sleepers?

Sleep experts say that side sleepers get a more comfortable and pain-free rest than either back or stomach sleepers. This position better accommodates the curvature of the spine in three important areas: the lower neck, middle of the back and lower back. Insomnia and back or hip pain also tend to be relieved. The pillow will support the head and neck and the space between the ear and shoulder.

Experts recommend a medium firm support for the neck and back. Putting a small pillow between the legs also removes pressure from the spine. Do some research beforehand so you can navigate through the wide variety of materials and styles in the market today.

 

Our #1 Side Sleeping Pillow Choice

 

 

What Are The Best Materials?

The best  are  made from either natural latex, memory foam or buckwheat. Natural latex is hypoallergenic and maintains an even temperature during sleep. It is naturally resistant to pets and maintains its shape for up to five years. Some users report a dislike of the springy texture, extra weight and odor it emits for a brief time. Natural latex is a popular alternative to memory foam because of its consistent support of the neck and shoulders. Price range is $25-$200.

Memory foam pillows are available in both contour and flat versions as a best pillow for side sleepers. It molds to the head and neck well. When considering this type of pillow, look for a low loft version. Higher loft styles may not suit all side sleepers. The most common complaints among users is a chemical gas odor emitted for a period of time. Others feel the pillow becomes too warm during use. Some models are ventilated keep the pillow at a more even temperature. They are expected to last about two-and-a-half years and can range between $12 and $160.

Polyester pillows are inexpensive, but contents can shift over time. Side sleepers may need to scrunch the pillow to maintain loft. They are light and easily cleaned, but don’t have more than an average ability to relieve pain. Pricing ranges from less than $10 up to $65.

Be sure to evaluate them first for comfort and support. Down and down alternatives are not considered as firm as natural latex or memory foam. They can become lumpy in time and often need adjusting or fluffing. Buckwheat pillows are a natural alternative to other materials, especially when allergies are involved. They offer good support, are naturally cool and can relieve muscle pain or a stiff neck.

The top pillow to use is quite a subjective choice. Since it is difficult to evaluate how well a pillow will work for you until you try it, ask your retailer about their return policy. Some stores offer a comfort guarantee for 30 days. If you are not happy, you can return it. A new pillow for side sleepers can make all the difference in the world. Rest well.

 

Best Pillow For Stomach Sleepers

A great day begins with a great night of sleep, and the pillow you choose affects the quality of your sleep. The right pillow helps maintain the alignment of your head, neck and shoulders. The ideal

height will support your neck and keep it from bending at an unnatural angle. While the wrong pillow is not likely to cause significant problems, it can worsen some discomforts, such as headaches, shoulder and neck pain, numbness in the arms, and breathing difficulties like snoring and wheezing.

To choose a pillow that aligns your head properly, it is important to consider your primary sleep position. The best pillow for stomach sleepers is one that is very thin and nearly flat. BioSense makes a slim-profile pillow that is designed just for you.

Pillow Types

Pillows are filled with many different types of materials, including foam, polyester fiberfill, memory foam, latex, buckwheat hulls, wool/cotton combinations and down/feather combinations. While side and back sleepers need firm support, stomach sleepers should be very soft. Foam, latex, and cotton/wool combinations are all quite firm and so are not the best choices. Down/feather combinations are very soft while still providing some support. Down/feather fill can be moved around within the casing to provide support where you need it and leave other areas flatter for more comfort.

 

Best Stomach Sleeper Pillow

 

What The Experts Say

Although most experts agree that down/feather combinations are generally safe for people with allergies, there are synthetic down options for those who are concerned. Cuddledown and Primaloft are two well-known brands of synthetic down fill. Synthetic down is as comfortable as natural down and provides the same level of support. However, synthetic down does not last as long, so pillows will need to be replaced more often.

The Buckwheat Choice

Buckwheat Pillow hull is another option for pillow filling, found in brands such as Sobakawa and Zen Chi. One benefit of this type of pillow is that the firmness can be adjusted by adding or removing buckwheat hulls. Because sleepers can customize the fill of this pillow, it works well for all types of sleepers. The pillows can be heavy and somewhat noisy, due to the shifting of the buckwheat hulls inside the case.

Other Options

Reversible pillows are also available, such as the one offered by Sleep Innovations. These 2-in-1 pillows feature a firm side, usually made of foam or memory foam, which is best for back or side sleepers. The other side is a softer fiberfill, best for stomach sleepers. These pillows are a good choice for people who sleep in different positions and need to alternate the firmness of their pillow.

Some sleepers find it comfortable to place a second pillow under the stomach. In order to keep the spine naturally aligned, this pillow should also be very thin, but firmer than the head pillow. A third pillow under the ankles provides additional spinal support.

Pillow covers are usually made of cotton or a cotton blend. It is a good idea to put the entire pillow in a zippered protector case. These cases are hypoallergenic and waterproof to protect the cover and the fill inside. Zippered protector cases are easy to remove and launder regularly, which lengthens the life of your pillow.

While it is important to consider height, fill, and cover material when choosing your pillow consider the one that is the most comfortable. A pillow that allows your head to rest comfortably and prevents soreness in your neck and shoulders is a good choice. The pillow that lets you sleep deeply and wake refreshed is the best.