Mattresses, Beauty Sleep and Low Back Pain
We have all heard the phrase “Beauty Sleep” right? Well we should spend approximately 1/3 of our life sleeping. If you average eight hours of sleep per night and live to be 60 years old, then 20 years of your life was spent sleeping. This may sound shocking, but it's a fact. This being the case, we should pay attention to how we sleep and what we sleep on.
If looked at from the front, your spine should be perfectly straight, however, if viewed from the side there should be four curves to our spine. The cervical, or neck curve has the apex forward. The mid back (thoracic spine) curves the opposite way, then the low back and pelvis continue to alternate in curvature. If we look at this shape, it would make sense to lie on a surface that would conform to these curves and thereby provide optimal support.
Without the proper support, excessive loads will be placed on certain parts of our bodies the entire time we are sleeping.
Researchers have found that adding a lumbar support (an inflatable cushion) underneath your low back may distribute the forces better throughout your spine. This support can maintain more effective contact with your low back, which will prevent shearing and compressive forces on your spine. These shearing and compressive forces can contribute to micro-trauma to the joints.
This trauma can result in an inflammatory process, which then leads to back pain, but more importantly, the inflammatory process leads to tissue fibrosis. Fibrosis is the laying down of a thicker, more dense tissue. This will limit mobility and any joint that cannot move freely has an inherent tendency to degenerate and become arthritic.
Your spine protects the spinal cord. Unfortunately, if we damage the spine, we risk injuring what it is protecting. Christopher Reeve is a good example. When he fell and damaged his neck, it wasn't the bone fracture that was significant, it was the trauma to his spinal cord. Pain is the warning sign of damage. Spine pain can warn you about nerve damage before arthritis takes hold. Fixing the damage is the first step; take the time to talk to your health care specialists and learn about your spine, and the best way to keep it in good health.
This in turn will have beneficial effects on your nervous system which will allow all the parts of your body to function in a more harmonious fashion and keep you in better health and all that good sleep may just turn into “Beauty Sleep” after all.