The truth behind getting good sleep

In research by Sun Life Financial Asia in 2014, Filipinos have among the worst health habits in Asia where half of Filipinos sleep less than six hours a day with 45 percent admitting to unhealthy eating habits. Also, over 60 percent of Filipinos also said they have not been exercising regularly, exceeding the regional average of 56 percent, and almost at the same level as Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

Ever noticed that after a sleepless night, you are more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress in the morning, but once you sleep well, you are suddenly in a good mood?

Medical science puts the ideal amount of sleep from six to eight hours a day. They also come to conclude that the ideal time to be asleep is between 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. However, they also learned that the quality of sleep is as important as the amount of sleep.

“Some of the factors that destroy a good night’s sleep include daytime behavior, working or sleeping in the wrong position for a long time, having a big meal and going to bed immediately after,” said Chawakit Kaoien, a 34-year-old licensed physical therapist.

Chawakit Kaoien

Kaoien has worked at one of Asia’s leading hospitals, Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, for 11 years, where he specialized in improving and maintaining respiratory systems for patients who were in critical condition or in the intensive care unit (ICU).

“To improve the condition of my patients, as well as their quality of life, I would arrange their sleeping positions for various purposes such as to reduce pressure, soreness, and to ease pain, to promote blood circulation, to allow heart failure patients to sleep better, to prevent contracture, and many more. I use many pillows to adjust my patients and put them in good positions. Not only patients need it [good and quality sleep], but everyone,” added Kaoien.

Importance of ‘deep’ sleep

Scientists have learned that the most important and restorative cycle of sleep is a deep sleep. It is the phase of sleep wherein your body and brain are truly at rest, and the human growth hormone is released to repair any wear and tear that your body and brain sustained while a person was awake. That’s why deep sleep is so vital.

Not because you’re in bed for six to eight hours means you had a good sleep, especially when all you did is to toss, turn, or wake up every now and then.

Deep sleep comes well into a sleep cycle and requires a long period of uninterrupted sleep to reach. Scientists have identified at least 20 percent of our time asleep should be a deep sleep. Anything less is insufficient.

Apart from the factors mentioned by Kaoien that influence sleep, there’s also light’s effect (like blue light emitted by electronics), jet lag, shift work, pain, anxiety, medical condition, and sleeping in a smelly or poor quality of pillows and mattresses.

Studies show that bedsheets and pillowcases could also be the reason why a person is not refreshed when he or she wakes up in the morning.

“The easiest way to promote a good night’s sleep is to have a correct size of pillows and good quality of bedding.

If the pillow doesn’t support you well, you will experience pain. If you are a side sleeper and you have the wrong pillow, you will experience pain. If you are not in a correct posture, you will experience back pain and not only pain, there’s no proper ventilation,” said Kaoien.

Poor beddings, mattresses

The inability to sleep comfortably has been linked to conclusively to numerous musculoskeletal problems, such as chronic back, neck, shoulder, and leg pain.

It has also been linked to the inability to get enough deep sleep, which in turn is a major factor in neurological conditions such as reduced cognitive function, memory lapses, and even migraines. But lack of deep sleep also contributes to countless other ailments from hyperacidity, hypertension to chronic fatigue.

“My wife asked me about the neck and back pain she had every morning. I did for her what I knew best, I adjusted her sleeping position using several pillows,” revealed Kaoien.

However, it was difficult to keep the pillows in place because unlike in the ICU where patients don’t usually move a lot, healthy people move around a lot at night.

Thus, the birth of Mr. Big, a regionally known brand of physical therapist designed pillows, mattresses, and other sleeping essentials.

“You have to know yourself—your sleeping patterns or body shape to support your preference. You have to choose to right pillow that can support your weight or height. The pillow plays the big role in the upper part [of our body], but the mattress affects our backline directly,” added Kaoien, adding that a person eventually will be needing ergonomic mattresses for a full experience.

Proper hygiene and good sleep

For now, Kaoien is not keen on introducing his products to hospitals from hygiene issues. Aside from the fact that pillows and hospital beddings need to be washed regularly to avoid infections, materials used in his products are for home use and thus expensive for hospital use.

Also, pillows need to be changed every year. Pillows are usually made of cotton and the physical structure become loose over time.

The moisture and sweat, accumulated in the pillows can have an effect on the overall well-being of a person. He also discouraged the sharing of pillows, as each pillow is specifically designed to fit a person based on his or her height or weight.

“You can share it [pillows] to your family. But if your child uses it, it may be too big for him/her. But since kids are more flexible, their muscles and bones, they might not complain about pain, but for older people who are not flexible, they might complain,” he added.

Arnold Cabildes, general manager for Mr. Big Philippines, noticed how Filipinos like to try new things just for the sake of trying or buying it.

“They buy products that they don’t really need, depending on their budget. Why save for something even if it’s expensive because it’s what you need and will satisfy you? If a person has a good sleep, he can think properly and everything will be okay. When you lack sleep, you cannot think properly. I would suggest, invest in a night of good sleep,” he said.

Mr. Big pillows and sleep essentials are exclusively imported by Newyork Home Fashions, and are available in the Philippines exclusively at SM Home stores.

For more information, visit Mr. Big or check out its Facebook page or Instagram.

Article originally published at The Manila Times on June 30, 2018

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