I haven’t been sleeping well lately. For a long time, actually. I have difficulty falling asleep at night and frequently wake up feeling tired and lethargic, even on days where I’m able to get a solid 8-9 hours of sleep. I had brought the subject up with my doctor recently, but he informed me I was doing all the right things – eating well, exercising regularly, avoiding caffeine before bed, etc. I thought it had something to do with the fact that I was a vegetarian - low iron or vitamin B12, perhaps? Nope – blood work indicated both levels were fine. I figured maybe I just have a poor mattress, but I can’t exactly afford to buy a brand new one at the moment.
Then I had an interesting “a-ha” moment earlier today at work. Every Wednesday we offer free 15-minute seated massages to staff. Someone didn’t show up for their scheduled appointment, so the therapist offered me the spot. I’ve only ever had a massage once in my life because I’m extremely ticklish, but today I obliged because my muscles were feeling tense. As soon as the masseur placed his hands on my shoulders he said, “Ah.. You’re not sleeping well.” His hands applied pressure to various spots on my back and he said, “You haven’t been sleeping well for a long time.”
At the end of the massage he described how he thought I was sleeping – curled up on my left side, back rounded, shoulders tucked up towards my ears, with one leg bent and the other straight. I laughed, surprised, because he was exactly right. Who knew he could determine all of that from a 15-minute chair massage?? It had never really occurred to me that my sleeping position was having that big of an effect on my quality of sleep. I usually just gravitated towards whichever position I found to be most comfortable.
This led me to wonder if there are certain sleeping positions that have been found to improve sleep quality. I found this recent CBS news report which was helpful. I don’t normally like falling asleep on my back, but the news report suggested it might be my best option for improving my sleep quality and reducing back pain. I also found this graphic from The Wall Street Journal which was insightful:
I’m going to give some of these suggestions a try over the next little while to see if there’s any improvement. The massage therapist also recommended that I do some stretches and deep breathing first thing in the morning in order to avoid muscle tension – I’ll be giving this a try too!
Have you been experiencing sleep issues lately? Maybe it’s time to change up your sleeping position! Changing your position could change your health :)
Be Well xo