An Entrepreneur’s Guide to a Healthy Back and Neck During Sleep

October 27, 2015

3:36 pm

The Dalai Lama tells us that “sleep is the best meditation.” I would add that for many ailments, it is the best medication, too. Sleeping well has positive effects on mood, memory, heart, weight, may help us live longer, and can especially help us be more productive and effective entrepreneurs. However, many of us are doing it wrong (yes, there is a wrong way to sleep).

Many people sleep on their stomach or on elevated pillows that angle the head in the opposite direction of their spine. Ideally, you want to sleep on your back with your ears even with your shoulders, neck supported in neutral spinal postures, and shoulders relaxed and flat.  You should sleep ON the bed, rather than IN the bed.

Below, you can find six sleep hacks to ensure you sleep well and maintain a healthy neck and back.

1. Better bed for better sleep

To lay (no pun intended) the foundation for better sleep and a boost in your entrepreneurial energy, first take a look at your bed.

  • After a night of sleeping, do you feel aches and kinks in your body?
  • Is your bed old?
  • Does your back sink into the bed?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need a new (or renewed) bed.

A mattress that is firm but also has some give as you change positions during the night will provide the most support.

If all of your excess funds are going towards your new business and money is tight, try laying (there is that unintentional pun again!) plywood between your mattress and box spring.

2. Sleep on your back

For the best neutral posture, sleep on your back. If you are not used to sleeping this way, try adding a pillow or knee roll under your knees. This will help enforce your new back-sleeping habit. If you find yourself (or your partner!) snoring while sleeping on your back, I highly recommend the silicon ear plugs.

Added benefit: sleeping with your face up (not scrunched up in a pillow) leads to fewer wrinkles.

A healthy back + a smooth face = a win-win for back sleepers.

3. Sleep on your side

Side sleeping can also help maintain a healthy back because it elongates the spine. There are 3 pillows that can help side sleepers:

  1. An ergonomic sleeping pillow that keeps your head level
  2. If pregnant, a small wedge pillow under the waist so the stomach doesn’t curve down from the added weight.
  3. A pillow between your knees to keep your hips level and alleviate back tension

During pregnancy, doctors recommend that expectant mothers sleep on their left side because it improves circulation to the heart and eases heartburn and acid reflux.

4. No hands

Avoid sleeping with your head on your wrist or arm. Over time, it can affect your circulation and contribute to unwarranted wrist aches and pains, which could slow down your new business launch. Be sure to stretch your hands and wrists each morning.

5. Don’t shoulder the burden

Do you sleep all curled up and on your shoulder? Try angling back so you’re not directly putting all the body weight on your shoulders.  Be sure to stretch  upon rising and exercise to avoid rounded shoulder postures.

6. Use a wedge

As a recovery tool from heart surgery, sleep on a bed wedge that elevates your head. 7 inches high is ideal, and it is good for reducing acid reflux, recovering from surgeries, and making it easier to get into and out of bed during the recovery journey.

If you have acid reflux, it’s better to sleep on your left side to minimize the acid reflux activity and raise your head. You can add a soft lower pillow to the wedge for best results.

Hacking sleep for better health

By using these tips and adding the pillows and stretches described, you can take action to ensure a better night’s sleep, which will contribute to:

  • Better health: Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • Less pain: more sleep raises your pain threshold
  • Better mood
  • Feeling refreshed
  • Stronger immunity
  • More energy to start your business!
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Karen Burke is the founder and president of Kare Products , specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

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