Dr. Marquetta Giles, DC, founder of Spinal Perceptions Chiropractic & Wellness Center Photo: Spinal Perceptions Chiropractic & Wellness Center

Every time the new year approaches, Americans buckle down to create a list of resolutions from saving money to losing weight. Some choose to stick with their goals, and some don’t. But here is one resolution that often gets overlooked… Sleep.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted our sleep cycle contributing to a large surge in insomnia. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, adults aged 18-60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. Sleeping less than that could increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and frequent mental distress.

Houston Chiropractor Dr. Marquetta Giles, DC who specializes in spinal treatment and preventative care says mattresses are one of the most overlooked pieces of equipment in the household.

“We know that our bodies adapt to how we function externally and internally and if you are under a lot of stress, your nervous system is in overdrive, Dr. Giles said. “Trying to get a restful night’s sleep is necessary for your body to whine down. Having a good mattress and being able to decrease stress during this time is key to supporting your immune system as well as being functional throughout the day.”

Dr. Giles suggests reviewing the age and condition of the mattress if you are struggling with sleep or have stiffness and pain in your back and joints. The average lifespan of a mattress is seven years and anything after that should be replaced.

“Seven years is the rule of thumb to make sure the sprains in the mattress are proper and that it’s also accommodating to any change in body type,” she explained. “Some people change weight, others have various health conditions that need a different type of mattress due to terminal or an acute health condition. Pregnancy can make a huge difference too.”

She says that your mattress should conform to the spine’s natural curve, keeping it in alignment when you lay down. It should distribute pressure evenly and minimize the transfer of movement from one sleeping partner to another.

Here are a few tips Dr. Giles suggests you should consider when shopping for a new mattress to improve your spinal and overall health:

  • For stomach and back sleepers – look for a firmer mattress that will provide more support and help relieve back pain while sleeping. 
  • If you’re experiencing joint pain and stiffness- your mattress may be too firm and could be restricting the blood flow to your joints.  Look for a medium-firm mattress. 
  • If you suffer from chronic lower back pain, your mattress may be too soft or may have lost its ability to support your spine properly due to age. Look for something comfortable, yet firm enough to cradle irritated pressure points with contouring foam layers. 

Pillows are equally as important as a mattress for proper sleep and spine health.  Pillows should be replaced every one to two years to help ensure they have the proper support and are clean and free of allergens that build up over time.

Also, having a proper “wind down’ routine promote healthy sleeping patterns. That routine can include the following:

  • Decrease social media usage at night
  • Reduce intake of high sugar meals and caffeine one to two hours before bed
  • Read a book
  • Take warm baths with lavender (sleep enhancer)

For more information visit: www.spinalpchiro.com

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...