How Poor Posture at Work Affects Your Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can lead to decreased productivity, higher levels of stress, and serious health problems. But an unlikely culprit might be causing your sleeping problems – bad posture at work.
About 35% of working American adults today are sleeping less than necessary, according to a recent study from Ball State University. In fact, the study found that between 2010 and 2018, the number of adults who don’t get more than six hours of sleep a night rose by 5%. What’s worse is that these people have jobs where the ability to learn, make decisions and solve problems are needed – things that lack of sleep severely hampers.
There’s a multitude of factors contributing to the lack of sleep or the increase in sleeplessness among working adults, including problems in melatonin production and our 24-hour circadian rhythm.
However, physicians at Collins Chiropractic say bad posture might also play a part in these sleeping woes. The experts note that poor posture can lead to a host of problems, including insomnia, apnea, and sleeping problems.
In this article, we’ll delve into the intricacies of how your posture at work might be affecting your sleep, and what you can do to improve it.
Slouching and sleeplessness
Depending on what your job is, you might be spending eight to ten hours of your waking hours working. It is this window during the day that impacts how you fare when you try your sleep at night. The neck pain, back pain, and increased stress levels caused by bad posture can directly interfere with your ability to catch quality sleep.
Seated posture is of particular concern, as experts suggest it’s linked closely to your posture while walking and standing. This is especially true for jobs that use computers or smartphones, as they cause inattentional blindness – leaving you unaware of your posture.
The average human head weighs at least four kilograms and the gravitational pull on it increases to as much as 27 kilograms of pressure when you stretch your neck forward to look at screens. Experts even coined a term for it – text neck – and it is one of the leading causes of slouching and lower back pain. This is because of the incremental loss of the curve of the cervical spine induced by the position. To be clear, while slouching is not necessarily considered bad posture, sitting in this poor posture for a long period of time causes the problem.
While lower back pain and neck pain from repetitive strains caused by bad posture induces sleeplessness, it also goes the other way. An article on The Atlantic reveals that people with moderate-to-severe sleep problems are more likely to develop chronic musculoskeletal pain after a year than those who don’t. As neck pain involves small tears in the muscle during the day, not having enough time to repair them at night aggravates them. The increase in the levels of stress when you’re sleep-deprived can also contribute to bad spine angles and slouching during the day, as your muscle coordination deteriorates and makes you less mindful of your posture.
How to Avoid Poor Posture
Having good posture doesn’t mean standing with your shoulders rolled back and your chest out – what’s more crucial is maintaining spine alignment. It’s important to note, however, that bad posture can be caused by obesity or weak muscles and correcting them might need more work and therapy. But it’s nonetheless important to work towards making good posture a habit.
As mentioned above, the majority of people who slouch do so without even noticing. That’s why self-awareness is key in re-balancing your posture. Start with something simple: let your colleague take a picture of you slouching and another when you have good posture. This technique is also known as ergonomic awareness, as it gives you a mental image of what you should look like when sitting, walking, and standing still.
2. Stretching at work
Taking regular breaks during work is the best way to counteract poor posture. Looking away from your screen 10-30 seconds every five minutes can help you be more aware of your posture. Next, set an alarm for every hour or so to stand up and walk, drink water, or just move around your work area. Pain Free Working notes that these movement breaks are good for both your physical and mental health. Furthermore, you can do stretching and simple exercises mid-shift to increase flexibility and restore postural alignment.
3. Trigger point therapy
It’s not a coincidence that many of your officemates keep a ball in their work area. Trigger point therapy can be a gamechanger for many who suffer neck and lower back pain. To do this, you just need a tennis ball – roll it over your neck and other affected areas when you feel tightening muscles. Note that you only realize how much pain you’re enduring when it’s gone or relieved.
While these may not be an end-all-be-all solution to your sleeping woes, correcting your posture at work can help your body find rest at night with ease.