You’ve invested in a new memory foam mattress and a new box frame but despite sleeping seven to nine hours every night, you still wake up feeling all achy and tired. While having a great bed can really make a difference in the quality of your sleep, there are other factors you have to consider. Below are just some of the most common sleeping mistakes you are probably committing night after night:
1. Using soft and fluffy pillows – most people have the idea that the best pillows are the softest and the fluffiest ones. Pillows are there to provide support so that your body, especially your neck and spine, can maintain good alignment while lying down. Soft pillows collapse too much when pressure is applied, leaving your head just a few inches away from your mattress. This causes your neck to be strained, so you wake up with sore neck and shoulder muscles after several consecutive hours in a horizontal position. Shop for a pillow that’s firm and thick enough to keep your head in a good position. Some people stack more than one pillow to get the height that they need, but if you do this, movements throughout the need will tend to cause the stacked pillows to shift. It really is better to get a big and thick pillow that you can use on its own. You can still have fluffy ones but just use them for cuddling rather than for support.
2. Not using enough pillows – this is somewhat related to #1. Even if you prefer not to hug a pillow while you sleep, you really need more pillows than just one or two. Pillows, as mentioned above, are intended to be supportive cushions and they should be used accordingly. For example, when you are lying on your back, placing a pillow directly under your knees will take a considerable amount of pressure off your lower back and heels. If lying on your side, you’ll find yourself waking up with less kinks and groans if you place one between your knees, and another one underneath your arm on the side you are lying on.
3. Sleeping in a bedroom that is not completely dark. It may be romantic to leave your curtains open to let the moonlight (or more likely, the streetlights) filter in, but without complete darkness, your brain is too stimulated to relax even while you are already deeply asleep. Even the light of the standby button on your TV can mess up the secretion of melanin in your body. So unless you absolutely cannot live without a nightlight, make sure that there are no remaining light sources in the bedroom after you’ve crawled into bed. Invest in some quality blackout curtains or blinds too, especially if you work nights and sleep days.
4. Spending most of weekend mornings in bed. We get it; during the week, you have to wake up too early and you reserve weekend for catching up on your sleep debt. But the thing is, too much sleep can mess you up as much as too little sleep does. Binge sleeping just leaves you sluggish rather than refreshed; if you must sleep in, try not to do it for longer than an hour or two beyond your typical weekday wakeup time.
5. Sleeping with your pet. According to research presented at the this year’s Annual Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting, about 63% of pet owners who sleep with their pets sleep poorly. This probably has to do with random animal movements that can interfere with your normal sleep cycles.
How do you know when you’re getting enough quality sleep? If you are, you should be waking up refreshed without the need of an alarm, and not dozing off during the day.