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How to get the best nights sleep

Friday, 27 March 2009

You might have to set your clocks for one hour earlier, but we'll be showing you how to get the best sleep ever.

Have you ever wondered if your bed, pillow and how you lie while sleeping affects your body and your sleep? We have chiropractor Dr. Attracta Farrell here to tell us how to get the optimum results from your slumber state.

She'll be giving advice on what bed is best, on how each person should choose a pillow that suits them, and what is the best way to lie to keep your spine straight, so you can wake up with no back or neck pain.

With the clocks going forward we're missing out on one hour's sleep, so here's how to get the most out of the few hours we get to fit in.

Dr. Attracta Farrell

Dr. Attracta Farrell Bsc (Hons) (Human Sciences) Msc (Chiro), DC, AECC
Athenry Chiropractic Clinic, Casita, Court lane, Athenry, Co Galway

Attracta Farrell studied chiropractic at the Anglo European College of Chiropractic in Bournemouth, doing a four-year degree and then a masters. Dr. Farrell runs her own practice in Athenry, dividing her time between Dublin and Galway.

What is the ideal way to position your body while sleeping?

Supine Position:
This is the ideal way for a body to sleep
1. Lie on your back
2. Put one small pillow under your head - this supports the width between the back of your head and your shoulder region.

Side Position:
If you must lie on your side, place a pillow between your knees, thick enough to keep your outer thighs at hip width.

What is the worst way to lie?

The worst way to lie and sleep is in a position similar to the recovery position.

1. This position causes your head to be turned to one side for long periods of time
2. Your pelvis will be rotated and your spine will also have too much rotation in it.

1. A mattress should be firm, but not so hard that you cannot get to sleep
2. Memory foams and orthopaedic mattresses are by far the best mattresses available. (Although expensive, they are an important and rewarding investment, particularly with most of us spending approximately 8 hours a day lying on them).
3. Rotate the mattress every month or so. If the mattress is not moved you end up adapting your body to the mattress as opposed to the other way round.
4. If you suffer with back trouble lie on your back and put a small pillow under your knees at night. This will maintain your lumbar lordosis curve as it should be. It will maintain your sacrum in the position is should be. Bending your knees takes pressure off tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings contribute and often cause low back pain.
How often should your mattress be replaced?

A good mattress should be changed every 10 years.

The thickness of your pillow should reflect the distance between your shoulder and ear on the side on which you're lying.

What is happening when you don't have a proper pillow and what are the consequences?
. If you sleep with no pillow it means that you are lying on an unsupported neck.
. This causes the excess stretch of neck muscles and associated joints. It will cause joints of the neck and cervico-thoracic region (just below neck) to be stretched beyond normal range of motion.

What to look for in a pillow?

1. Pillows should reflect your shape.
2. Someone with slight shoulders should use a thin pillow, and someone with large shoulder should go for a thicker one.
3. Firm pillows are the key. If you are going to invest in pillow make sure if fits YOU and not anyone else.
4. Change your pillow on a regular basis.

What is a memory foam mattress?
Memory foam is made from polyurethane with additional chemicals that increase its viscosity level, thereby increasing its density. It is often referred to as visco-elastic polyurethane foam. Depending on the chemicals used and its overall density, it is firmer in cool temperatures and softer when warm. Higher density memory foam reacts to body heat which allows it to mould itself to the shape of a warm body within a few minutes. A lower density memory foam is pressure-sensitive and will mould more quickly to the shape of the body. The example often used to demonstrate its properties is that a hand pressed into the foam and then removed will leave a clear impression in the foam.

Foam pillows?

This is based on the same concept of the foam mattress, to support the head and neck.

What are common problems that people come to you with?
Mainly a crick in their neck or lower back pain. People can also wake up with headaches if they have a neck dysfunction due to lying incorrectly.
What do you recommend for pregnant women who are finding it hard to sleep?
Pregnant women should have a pregnancy pillow to help them get comfortable.
Do children complain with similar problems?
Children mainly get problems if they are sleeping on their tummys, and they will wake up with a stiff shoulder. This needs to be treated as it won't go away with just adjusting their sleeping positions.
Babies- Many parents worry that their babies sleep wit their bum in the air and knees tucked in underneath their tummy. It is quite a common position for babies to sleep but the ideal position for a baby to lie is on their back.

Both these beds were manufactured by Home Lee Bedding in Galway and are both available online at or by phoning Geoff Evans of Lir Marketing at 01 287 4891. Details of both beds are as follows:

Bed 1. Backcare

The Backcare Orthopaedic Divan Bed has been designed specifically to offer the maximum back support. ?It contains strong strengthened steel springs, tempered to ensure a totally ?supported sleep system. Upholstered in a hand tufted Damask, ?it incorporates several layers of quality fillings.


  • Fully Tempered Bonnell Spring Unit
  • Finest quality Damask fabric
  • Hand Tufted
  • Flag stitched handles for easy movement?
  • Fully complies with fire regulations?
  • Available in 3', 4', 4'6", 5' or 6'?
  • Optional extras include Guest Bed, Drawers and Zip & Link
  • Guaranteed Irish

Bed 2. Visco Bonnell

The merging of the latest in "Visco-Elastic" technology together with the versatility of a traditional Bonnell spring unit guarantees an extremely comfortable and relaxing sleep system. ?The Viscose is the most up-to-date body support know-how within the bedding industry, ?moulding itself to each individual person, relieving pressure points ?for a truly restful nights sleep.

. Fully Tempered Bonnell Spring Unit
. Visco-Elastic Technology
. Finest quality Damask fabric
. Sprung Edge Divan
. Easy Care - No need to turn
. Fully complies with fire regulations
. Available in 4'6", 5' or 6'
. Guaranteed Irish
For further information please call Geoff Evans at 01 287 4891 or go to website.

All bed furnishing, including pillows, duvets and memory foam pillows have have been supplied to today by Dunnes Stores.

Pregnancy Pillow supplied by Mothercare.

Dr. Attracta Farrell
BSc(Hons)(Human Sciences) MSc(Chiro), D.C., A.E.C.C.

Athenry Chiropractic and Complementary Health Clinic, Casita, Court Lane, Athenry, Co. Galway.

Tel: 091-875793

Clondalkin Chiropractic
Bawnogue Enterprise and Community Centre, Bawnogue Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22.


Chiropractic Association of Ireland

Tel: 021-4857775