This time of year I get lots of questions about mattresses and sleep posture. What is the best position for sleep? People should never sleep on their stomach. No matter what, your head has to be turned to the side, so it stresses the muscles of the neck. Also, it puts the curves of the upper and low back in the wrong direction. It is best to seep our your side with a rolled blanket or towel between the knees to help maintain alignment of the pelvis. Alternatively people can sleep on their backs with a pillow under the knees to help maintain the lumbar curve in the low back.
A common injury I see at my practice is when kids and pets sleep in the same bed as parents. This can cause parents to sleep in postitions that can promote injury, so it is best to have pets sleep in a crate or pet bed and older children should be encouraged to sleep in a separate bed or surface.
When should a mattress be changed? There is no set time frame but consumer reports recommend evaluating mattress quality at about 5-7 years. Mattress design has changed over the years and more companies are utilizing memory foam in combination with traditional spring and latex foam. Consumer reports suggest spending at least 15 minutes trying out a mattress in the store and bringing your spouse with to test it out. Then lay face up and if you can put two finger widths or more in the space under the low back, than it isn't providing adequate support http://www.nbcdfw.com/investigations/Should-Mattresses-be-Replaced-Every-10-Years-225248092.html
In addition to making sure your mattress is working for you, having a good quality pillow is also beneficial for a good nights sleep. It should provide support for your cervical curve in the neck and should be washable. According to Dr. Robert Oexman, DC of the Sleep to Live Insittute, pillows should be replaced every 6 months. This recommendation is due to the potential for build up of dust mites, dirt, and oil over time, as well as the breakdown of the structure of the pillow mhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/04/when-to-replace-pillow-gross_n_5628180.html
For more information on improving sleep visit http://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-general-public/inadequate-sleep-hygiene/
Amy Gamerdinger Jeffers, DC, CACCP