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Proper sleep ergonomics: How to adjust your environment to improve sleep

As Americans find themselves leading more toiled lives; the importance of getting enough quality sleep on a consistent basis is often overlooked and not achieved. However, a lack of sleep could have a noticeable and detrimental effect on a person’s physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. The  American Psychological Association  states every person is unique in […]

As Americans find themselves leading more toiled lives; the importance of getting enough quality sleep on a consistent basis is often overlooked and not achieved. However, a lack of sleep could have a noticeable and detrimental effect on a person’s physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being.

The  American Psychological Association  states every person is unique in his or her sleep needs. With an adequate sleep level ranging from 6 to 10 hours each night, no two people are exactly the same in their sleep needs. To help maximize both the amount and quality of sleep each night, people must create an environment that lends itself to a positive sleep state.

Factors Contributing to a Solid Night’s Sleep

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To create an environment that allows a person to maximize their sleep requires the consideration of several contributing factors. These contributing factors, which can be altered by the person trying to sleep, can affect both the amount and quality of sleep a person gets each night.

1.  Bedding materials specific to your needs: Sleep ergonomics and being comfortable in bed can be one of the largest obstacles to a restful night’s sleep. The  American Chiropractic Association  states, “sleep ergonomics” refers to our posture and position during sleep. They either help us rest in safe mechanical positions for joints or they stress joints to the point that we wake up with more aches and pains than we fell asleep with.” For people with back, neck, or spine issues, choosing a pillow that supports to your head and neck is crucial to a quality sleep. Ergonomics are so important to quality sleep, the National Sleep Foundation goes on to state people should “change your pillows regularly. If you have allergies or asthma, you may also wish to purchase hypo-allergenic covers designed to protect from possible allergic triggers such as dust mites.” There are many retail options available to accommodate sleep ergonomic needs. For example,  Macys.com  carries pillows ranging from hypo-allergenic and memory foam, to down and ventilated density foam.

2.  Maintain a consistent sleep & wake schedule: Similar to how people train their bodies when they eat, people can also train their bodies to expect a certain amount of sleep each night, and when they will receive that sleep. When people maintain a consistent sleep schedule, their bodies become trained to fall asleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time each morning. This routine can help people fall asleep easier with less stress each night. Breaking up this sleep pattern can cause disruptions in both quality and quantity of sleep.

3.  Limit or eliminate caffeine intake prior to sleep: Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness in people. According to the Harvard Medical School, the caffeine in coffee, tea, many sodas, chocolate, even pain relievers can keep people awake at night. In fact, these stimulants not only keep people awake at night; they can also prevent a restful sleep once someone finally falls asleep. People should avoid caffeine four to six hours prior to sleeping to prevent being kept awake at night.

4.  Exercise regularly & early in the day: A study conducted by Appalachian State University stated it’s most beneficial to exercise at 7 AM. In fact, the report showed people who exercised at 7 AM “slept longer and had more beneficial sleep cycles than when they exercised at other times of the day.” Exercise increases body temperature, which keeps them awake and alert. When body temperature decreases, people become tired; however, it can take hours for a person’s body temperature to decrease.

5.  Minimize noise, light, and hot or cold temperatures: Noise, light, and extreme hot or cold temperatures can have a negative effect on a person’s sleep. The  National Sleep Foundation  stated:

  • Noise levels as low as 40 decibels or high as 70 decibels can keep people awake
  • Bright light helps to keep people awake during the day, but in the evening prior to sleep, bright lights can be disturbing
  • Temperatures above 75 F and below 54 degrees will disrupt sleep

Sleep is crucial to maintaining a positive physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. Although there are several other influences that can contribute to a restful night’s sleep, the factors above are important and should be addressed if an individual isn’t receiving the amount or quality of sleep they need to function at a cognitive level. These factors listed above should be reviewed and altered until an adequate amount and quality of sleep is achieved.

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