Sleep is essential for well-being and critical for enabling us to engage in every day activities of daily living. Occupational therapists have long acknowledged the influence of sleep on a client’s occupational performance and address it as part of their holistic assessment of need. (This paragraph could be added in for professionals or left out for the general public)
We spend a considerable amount of time in bed, at least 7 hours a day, but in some cases even more, an early night or a late morning can lead to up to 10 or 11 hours in a sitting or lying position and therefore having the right bed is essential for our well being.
So here are some tips to help you get the “best of the rest” and get in and out of bed in safety and comfort.
Getting in and out of bed
This might seem quite basic, but if you bed is too low, you may find it easier to sit down than to stand up again! So check to see if your bed needs to be a little higher. Find a chair in the house that you can get up and down from easily, measure the height from the floor to the top of the seat. Then measure the bed from the floor to the top of the mattress; ideally they should be similar heights.
If your mattress is feeling as tired as you are, you should consider replacing it. If the sides of the mattress sink considerably when you sit on the side of the bed and you find it difficult to push up with your hands, all your effort in pushing to stand up maybe being absorbed into a soft mattress. If this is the case, consider a firmer mattress, and you be surprised at how much easier it will become to get on and off the bed.
If you do need to raise the bed higher, a number of products are available depending upon your bed style. These daily living products are called “Bed raisers” and are available for both single and double beds. If you are considering buying a new bed, do go and try one before you buy one to be sure it’s the right height and comfortable.
Getting a handle on the matter
A bed lever or handle that fits securely onto the mattress can provide a firm handhold, either to push up from or to help you swing your legs into bed. When you are lying in bed the lever sits at shoulder height, it is not designed to stop you falling out of bed, but you may find that its position gives you a fixed point allowing you to be aware of the edge of the bed, and the opportunity to adjust your position.
Preparation for bed
Getting ready for bed is often not thought about, yet how we prepare is often critical to being able to fall of to sleep quickly. Taking a warm bath prior to going to bed is proven to enable you to fall of sleep quicker. As warm water prompts relaxation and the increase in body temperature helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly, this then allows for a deeper sleep pattern and thus reduces the effect of fatigue, this is particular evident with children.
The warm bath can also be used as part of a treatment programme to reduce the affects of pain, muscle spasm and joint stiffness prior to going to bed.
Are you sleeping comfortably?
Feeling comfortable is very personal and subjective and if you are in pain, you may feel it worst when you are in bed when you are not distracted by the goings on of the day.
Sometimes we prop ourselves up on too many pillows, although this may help for a while, you may find yourself with the “sinking feeling” and discomfort as the pillows start to lose their position. In this circumstance to may consider a bed wedge on a standard mattress or using a feature on an adjustable bed, by raising the backrest or pillow raiser.
Leg pain or joint stiffness can be most noticeable at nighttime, and a bed cradle can be used to take the weight off sensitive skin and joints. Surprisingly most people do not think of using them outside of a hospital setting but they are available to privately purchase.
If you have lost weight or feel discomfort in between your knees or ankles try a soft pillow or a knee pillow, one that is shaped for the purpose, which will support your joints.
Sufficient and peaceful sleep provides the basis for the optimal amount of participation in engagement in our daily lives of work and leisure time and should be taken very seriously by all healthcare professionals.