Several years ago I read an article on getting a good night’s sleep. The author made an interesting statement. He said that when you wake up in the morning, pay attention to your body position — whether you are on your back, stomach, side, etc. As you naturally assume the most comfortable position for sleeping while you’re asleep, paying attention to how you wake up will tell you what your body wants.
And while I’ve generally gone to sleep on my side, I invariably wake up flat on my back.
It occurred to me that sleeping on my side puts pressure points on my hips (and my bursitis) and also causes some sidewise strain on the knee joints. When sleeping on my side, my knees are also bent, and that’s when they get so stiff — when I try to straighten them in the morning. Sleeping on my back would relieve the pressure points and keep my knees straight.
So the last couple of nights I’ve tried the experiment of going to sleep flat on my back. I even gave up one of my two pillows so my upper spine wouldn’t be at such an angle.
I honestly didn’t think it would work. I’ve had to sleep on my back a few times with the shoulder and hip surgeries and was miserable. But not getting a good night’s sleep lately because of my screaming knees and aching joints inspired me.
It’s amazing. I’ve had the best couple of nights rest that I can remember in a long time. I swear I woke up in exactly the same position I feel asleep in. And since I wasn’t tossing and turning during the night trying to get comfortable, I got a lot more, better sleep. And the bursitis in my hips didn’t hurt because I wasn’t sleeping on them. And my knees weren’t as stiff because they stayed straight all night.
I’ve also taken another page out of the parenting book to deal with my poor knees. Common advice for parents is to establish a bedtime ritual. I’ve started doing this with my knees. The last couple of nights, as part of my routine before bed, I’ve been spending a few minutes stretching out my knees (gentle knee bends, etc.). Then I rub some anti-inflammatory cream on them, spending some extra time massaging it in. Between this new ritual and sleeping on my back, I’ve finally gotten through the night without the 2:00 am and 5:00 am wake-up calls.
Even if you’re healthy, a good night’s sleep makes all the difference in how you feel. If, like me, you’re dealing with a chronic disease, it’s even more important.
Here’s hoping that all your nights are restful and that your dreams are happy. Thanks for checking in.