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Sleeping position myths

With the bed playing such an important role in your sleeping position, we spoke to physiotherapist, Tobina Marx, to uncover the current misconceptions about body alignment and support.
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You spend a third of your life in bed, so it’s important that it provides you with the perfect support. If you’re tossing and turning at night or waking up feeling stiff or sore, it could be a sign that your current bed is no longer comfortable or providing the right support.

With lots of advice available on how to achieve the perfect support, we spoke to the physiotherapist, Tobina Marx, to uncover the misconceptions about body alignment and sleeping positions. Sleep is one of the key factors that Tobina explores with her clients at Six Physio and Movementum. Working closely with her clients to understand how their sleep quality, quantity and patterns may be affecting their body’s ability to recover and thrive. From sleeping on a soft bed to achieving the perfect body alignment, Tobina reveals the myths which may be hindering your recovery.

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A soft bed does not necessarily equal bad support.

 

SLEEP MYTH 1: SLEEPING ON A SOFT BED CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN

We have all heard or experienced the feeling of a niggly back after sleeping on a mattress at a hotel, friend’s or great aunt’s house that felt too soft. And whilst the mattress may not have been ideal for our backs, it is not a simple correlation that a soft bed equals a bad back.

I think it’s important to understand why a bed is uncomfortably soft, by asking the below two questions:

1. Is it a very soft bed that offers little or no support?

2. Or, is it an old bed that has lost its shape in certain places?

When buying a new mattress the key is to explore and test how the bed feels, ensuring it offers a comfortable sleeping experience. For some, this may be a super soft feel in the areas where the body is in contact with the bed, in combination with the support the mattress offers. This supported feel is a result of the bed construction, materials and quality underneath that top layer. It is possible to have a very supportive bed with a super soft feel. Understanding your body and previous experiences with different beds can help guide you to find your optimal support.

It is not a simple correlation that a soft bed equals a bad back.

Sleep on Savoir Beds

Our bodies may adjust to different positions throughout the night. 

 

 

SLEEP MYTH 2: YOUR BODY SHOULD BE IN PERFECT ALIGNMENT WHEN SLEEPING

Over the last two decades and beyond, there have been many conversations about ‘normal’ alignment, with the idea of sleeping, standing and sitting in neutral positions being preferable. However, in recent thinking we have a more adaptable model which acknowledges and allows us to understand that whilst neutral is good, our bodies are able and designed to move through different postures.

At night, we do not have total control of our movements and it can be hard to achieve the perfect neutral position. It’s important to highlight that this isn’t as negative as it is sometimes portrayed to be. Don’t feel the pressure to achieve the perfect neutral alignment.

It is true that our body’s posture during sleep can cause issues. We spend long periods of time in sustained positions at night, which is why sleep may contribute to certain symptoms. For example, sleeping on your tummy with the head turned to one side, or sleeping with one arm up and under the pillow can add to shoulder pain, pins and needles, neck and back issues. But, we need to look at this as part of the whole picture and not in isolation. What we do during the day is as significant. Factoring in long periods spent at a computer is as important as looking at sleep posture.

 

In recent thinking we have a more adaptable model which acknowledges and allows us to understand that whilst neutral is good, our bodies are able and designed to move through different postures.

We do not need to sleep in a perfect neutral alignment all night in order to be symptom-free or experience a good night’s sleep. The key is to finding the best mattress and pillow combination in conjunction with understanding any sleep position habits that could be gently improved.

 

Class with Jaimie Baird

PHYSIO, TOBINA MARX EXPLAINS THAT IN ADDITION TO EXERCISE, SLEEP IS KEY TO GOOD CARE.

 

SLEEP MYTH 3: SLEEP IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION EXERCISES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF INJURIES

Sleep is a crucial time for the body to grow and heal. Now more than ever, it has become an aspect that should be explored in anyone’s vitality or medical journey. We know that good sleep can really help recovery. The science behind this is emerging, which helps us understand that sleep is crucial in any injury management and prevention.

Research has suggested that sleep may be key to reducing sensitivity to pain. A key hormone called Growth hormone (GH) or somatotropin is released at night during the REM phase of sleep and helps the healing process to repair soft tissue. This is supported by a study which revealed that if you have less than seven hours of sleep at night then you are 17% more likely to get an injury compared to those that slept for 8 hours.

In physiotherapy we address many aspects of a person’s injury or presenting symptoms with treatment including manual therapy, exercises, advice on daily living and other modalities. However, sleep is a key aspect of good care. It is one of the factors that will optimise someone’s recovery and health.

Tobina Marx is a physiotherapist at two leading London studios, the new Movementum at the Mandarin Oriental and Six Physio. She has worked with ultra-endurance cyclists, rugby professionals, and specialist interest groups among pioneering orthopaedic consultants. She has also travelled on request to Europe, America and Africa with clients on health missions.

For more details on how to find your perfect mattress, read our mattress guide.

3rd and 4th images are of Taryn Toomey, wellness expert and founder of The Class, shot by Jaimie Baird for Savoir