Researchers estimate that between 40% and 70% of people over 65 suffer from chronic sleep issues and that almost half of these cases are undiagnosed. Sleep plays a key role in maintaining the proper functioning of the brain and body and impacts our emotional well-being. Poor sleep can lead to a number of health issues, particularly in older adults, which can significantly reduce the quality of life. To minimize the impact of sleep disturbances, learn more about the best sleep positions and tips for getting restful sleep.
The Importance of Proper Sleep
Most adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but many don’t get enough. Sleep is as important as eating right and getting exercise as it helps your brain and body rest and recharge following the days’ activities. There are a number of risks associated with not getting enough sleep:
- Difficulty concentrating or memory issues.
- Reduction in immune system function.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Higher risk of health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
- Increased risk of obesity or depression.
Best Sleep Positions
Comfortable sleep positions vary from person to person, but in theory, you can train yourself to sleep in a different position if you have certain health conditions and you’re used to something else. Sleep apnea, heartburn, and lower back pain are just a few conditions that should be taken into consideration when planning a good sleep position.
- Sleeping on the side. If you sleep on your side you run the risk of neck, hip, back or jaw pain. However, it can be a great way to help heartburn and reduce snoring. Sleeping with a pillow between your legs can reduce the risk of pain in the areas listed above.
- Sleeping on the stomach. Stomach sleeping is not the best sleeping position. The upside is that it can help with sleep apnea or snoring but the potential for neck-jarring or stiffness and pain anywhere along the neck or back means it may not be worth doing.
- Sleeping in the fetal position. Sleeping on your side with bent legs drawn up toward your body can help reduce snoring and may help you avoid pain in other areas. It can lead to stiffness in the neck and upper back, but is good for lower back pain. Using a pillow between your legs can also be helpful here too.
- Sleeping flat on your back. Although it may take some getting used to, this is perhaps the best position to try (best done by using a pillow under your knees). It can be a challenge for people who snore or have sleep apnea but it’s good if you have hip, back or neck pain.
Follow These Tips About Sleep Positions:
- Allergies, sinus infections or post-nasal drainage: Try sleeping with a few pillows so that your head is elevated.
- Snoring or sleep apnea. Consider sleeping on your stomach, side or in the fetal position.
- Neck pain. Sleeping on your back or side or back is best. If you choose to sleep on your back, try a thinner pillow and opt for a thicker pillow while sleeping on your side.
- Acid reflux. Side-sleeping or sleeping with your head elevated is best if you have this condition.
- Lower back pain. Try sleeping in either the fetal position or on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- Play with pillows. Sometimes avoiding nighttime achiness is a simple matter of choosing the right pillow for your sleeping position. Some people do better with firm, thin pillows while some need something fluffier. Trying a new pillow made with a different material, or a neck pillow, knee, or pillow wedge under the legs may mean the change you need.
- Get a high-quality mattress. A good mattress can mean the difference between misery and sleeping peacefully. It’s best to try many different types and purchase a new one from a retailer that offers no-hassle returns in case you don’t like the end result. It’s worth it to invest in a mattress that works for your body.
Lighthouse Senior Living offers special wellness programs and amenities that foster a healthy lifestyle. Contact us to schedule a virtual or in-person tour of our communities, located in Columbia-Ellicott City and Essex-Middle River.