Here are 2 reasons why you may be struggling to sleep at night:
1. Using an old mattress
As a general rule, you need to purchase a new mattress every 5 to 7 years. This is because an older mattress typically can no longer provide proper support for your lower back. In turn, this reinforces poor sleeping posture, which can strain your muscles and cause lower back pain.
A tell-tale sign that you need a new mattress is if your current one clearly slopes down towards the center. Additionally, it's time for a new mattress if you can see or feel multiple lumps.
When searching for a new mattress, keep in mind the following mattress-related considerations:
- Try a medium-firm mattress. Many people with lower back pain find that a medium-firm mattress provides the best relief from their discomfort.
- Purchase a mattress with a hassle-free return policy. A mattress may feel comfortable in the store, but you won't know for sure until you've spent a few nights sleeping on it.
- Don't forget the base. An adjustable bed is not a mattress, but rather a base that can be adjusted to various positions. An adjustable base requires a special compatible mattress, and may be worth your investment if you find relief from your aches and pains by sleeping in a reclined position.
2. Poor sleep hygiene
Whether we are conscious of it or not, almost all of us have a regular sleep routine. Unfortunately, most of our routines are not conducive to sleep.
The following list can help you identify the poor sleep hygiene habits that may be keeping you awake:
- Staying in bed too long. Quite simply, you can't force yourself to fall asleep. So if you stay in bed for longer than 30 minutes without falling asleep, you will only end up stressing yourself out; which will make falling asleep even harder.
- Using electronics in the bedroom. The blue light emitted by your phone or computer inhibits the release of melatonin, which regulates your body's sleep-wake cycle.
- Drinking caffeine before bed. You may find it difficult to fall asleep if you drink a caffeinated beverage, including soda, within 4 hours of your bed time.
In addition to avoiding the poor sleep hygiene habits above, you can train your body to fall asleep by establishing a nightly routine that focuses on relaxation. For example, 30 minutes before bed turn off all electronics and read or take a warm bath. You can then dim your lights and spend a few minutes journaling about your day, with a particular focus on any fears or anxieties you may have. Finally, you can change into comfortable clothes.
As a bonus tip, if your chronic pain is keeping you awake make sure you speak with your doctor; as chronic pain and insomnia need to be treated together.