The purpose of sleep is to restore and rejuvenate. Tissue healing occurs during the deeper REM (rapid eye movement) stages of sleep, which can be a good thing for the back and neck. To reap the many rewards of a good night’s sleep, especially if you have existing spine-related issues, it helps to have a better understanding of what’s true when it comes to sleep and what’s nothing more than a lingering myth or misconception. Read on to brush up on your sleep facts.
1. Caffeine Affects You Longer Than You Think
If you are in the habit of drinking caffeinated beverages throughout the day, this habit could be affecting your sleep. It’s not so much the morning java that’s the issue. However, about half of the caffeine you consume could still be in your system 5-7 hours later. If you’re an all-day coffee drinker, switch to decaf after lunch to prevent possible sleep issues. Also, be mindful of other sources of caffeine you might consume later in the day, including:
- Dark and milk chocolate
- Certain energy drinks
- Desserts with chocolate
- Diet cola
2. Napping During the Day Should Be Done in Moderation
There’s nothing wrong with short naps during the day now and then, but too much daytime napping could throw off your body’s natural sleep cycle. Ideally, naps should be limited to about half an hour so you can get a quick refresh.
3. Replacing Your Current Mattress with a Medium Firm One May Help
According to a study involving approximately 300 people with lower back pain, individuals opting for medium-firm mattresses reported less pain than those who went with a firm mattress. Your selection of a new mattress should also be based on factors such as:
- Height and weight
- Preferred sleep positions
- Specific areas of your spine that need the most support
4. Exercising Before Bed Isn’t Always Good for the Back
Some exercise shortly before bedtime isn’t necessarily all that bad, according to recent research on the topic. However, it may become an issue if you have an existing spine-related condition that becomes more inflamed as you sleep because of overexerted muscle groups that support your spine. If this applies to you, wrap up your workout or daily exercise a few hours before getting to bed.
5. Melatonin Isn’t a Long-Term Solution for Sleep Issues
Naturally made by the pineal gland in the middle of the brain, melatonin is the hormone that tells the body when it’s time to sleep and get up. Some people take supplements or over-the-counter sleep aids that contain a synthetic form of melatonin.
While this is fine if you have jet lag or occasional difficulty nodding off, sleep aids of this nature shouldn’t be used on a regular basis. If you have chronic insomnia that’s consistently keeping you up, talk to your doctor to find more appropriate solutions.
6. Too Little Sleep Can Affect Physical Health
A lack of sufficient sleep can result in constant low-grade inflammation and increase sensitivity to pain. Too little sleep can also contribute to many other health-related issues that affect the spine, including:
- Weight gain because of higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases appetite
- Added overall stress and anxiety
- Circulation issues due to underlying conditions like diabetes
Healthy adults typically need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night for optimal functioning, while kids and teens need a bit more. Increase your odds of enjoying the many benefits associated with productive sleep by getting to bed at the same time each night and creating a quiet bedroom environment. If recurring spine pain disrupts your sleep habits on a regular basis, talk to your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon to find out why so the right treatments can be recommended.
Contact The Spine Institute today to learn about the various options for fusion surgery and spinal fusion alternatives. Beverly Hills residents trust Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of professional surgeons for good reason. Give our office a call at 310-828-7757 if you’d like to schedule an in-person evaluation.