Waking up for short periods during a sleep cycle is normal, but if you wake up and can't get back to sleep for a long time, this can become a significant problem.
There are many possible causes for so-called sleep maintenance insomnia, from obstructive sleep apnea (a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts, waking you up) to excessive amounts of blue light shortly before bed (for example, scrolling through social media on your smartphone). There are many possible solutions, such as creating a bedtime routine including various relaxation techniques or creating a consistent sleep schedule.
There are some problems, though, that can be solved by a simple change of sleep position. If you wake up and can’t get back to sleep because of pain from sleeping, we have three easy secrets to help you. Here they are:
- To sleep better with lower back pain, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. No offense, but your legs are pretty heavy, and especially if your mattress isn't super supportive, you can put pressure on your spine by sleeping on your back with your legs out flat. If this works well for you, consider investing in a nice memory foam knee pillow.
- To get a good night's sleep with upper back, neck, or shoulder pain, sleep on your back with a thin pillow, or sleep on your side with a pillow that's higher under your neck than under your head. Both of these achieve the same ultimate goal - keep your spine straight from neck to tailbone - in different ways. When you sleep on your back, propping your head up too high can lead to neck and upper back strain; when you sleep on your side, you need a pillow about the height of your shoulder (distance from your head to the mattress), otherwise it can lead to neck or shoulder strain.
- For better sleep with acid reflux, try a wedge pillow or sleeping on your left side. It may be tempting to prop your head up with a bunch of pillows, but you really want to invest in a wedge: propping up just your head, instead of your whole upper body, doesn't do as much good for your acid reflux, and it will probably also cause you neck strain. Your left side is a good idea if you're a side sleeper because of the orientation of your stomach: the tubes leading in and out are on your right side, so sleeping on your left helps your dinner stay down.
Ultimately, though, changing your sleeping position can only do so much if your bedding is battered. If you've had your mattress for more than eight years or so, it's probably sagging in the middle and is no longer supportive.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, chronic insomnia can cause fatigue, trouble concentrating, memory problems, low motivation, high blood pressure, and more. So, think about getting a new mattress as the best investment for your health and future happiness.