Good quality and sufficient duration of sleep is critical to our health and wellbeing. Most of us will spend between 25 and 30% of our lives asleep, averaging between 7 and 9 hours a night. Lack of good quality sleep and/or not enough time spent sleeping has been linked to all manner of ailments including heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, depression and obesity.

Getting enough good quality sleep has been shown to improve your memory, your creativity and your ability to learn new things. It also makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight and decreases stress and incidence of depression. A lifetime of good sleep habits leads to a longer life as well. Workers that get enough sleep also have improved safety records with less on the job accidents. Lack of sleep causing on the job accidents has been likened to being drunk and increasing your risks of having a motor vehicle accident.

When relating sleep specifically to your spine health we note benefits such as more relaxed feeling muscle tone. The discs between the vertebrae in your spine also rehydrate during sleep to restore their shock absorbing function. Sleep has also been shown to reduce inflammation and after an injury to improve the rate of tissue repair.

Most of us adopt a combination of sleep positions (side, back and stomach) during the night. Researchers in sleep quality recommend a preference for a side sleeping position using a pillow between your knees. Even better, they say, is using a body roll with your upper most arm and knee placed over the roll (

When choosing the best mattress to facilitate your good quality sleep, recommendations are to choose a frim mattress for support that still feels comfortable to you to achieve the comfort necessary for good rest. This can be difficult to appreciate without spending a night on the mattress. Suggestions are to choose a medium/firm mattress constructed of memory foam or a memory foam/coil combination. Remember to turn your mattress every 2 weeks and to replace it every seven years.

Choosing the correct pillow is just as important and researchers can help us a little here as well. Studies suggest the best option is an orthopaedic, asymmetric double roll shape (looks like an “M” with one side lower than the other). The construction should be a memory foam/foam combination or latex. Feather pillows did not rank very highly. The pillows should feel fairly firm to offer good support. Pillow height was recommended to be about 10cm, with allowances made for different body sizes.

If you continue to feel discomfort during sleep that prevents you from achieving good quality and duration then make an appointment to see your local chiropractor for an assessment and advice on how you can improve this extremely important part of your life.