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Even sleeping with my disability a challenge

By Ernie Williamson The Bulletin

What is the best way to sleep?

On your back? Stomach? Left side? Right side?

I became curious because for most of my life I have slept on my side.

I slept well without ever taking a sleeping pill. I could even sleep with the television on. Not even a Texas thunderstorm could keep me awake.

Now, because of shoulder pain caused by rolling a wheelchair for 10 years after damage to my spinal cord, it has been recommended that I try sleeping on my back.

It’s not going well. I wish I didn’t have to switch.

Even with a sleeping pill and the television off, I sleep only a couple hours.

During one long, sleepless night, I did some research.

The information may help you rest easier.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic, apparently not sleeping on the job, have determined that sleeping on your side is probably the best way to get a good night’s rest.

The Mayo Clinic experts say sleeping on your back is actually not as beneficial as sleeping on your side, especially if you have sleep apnea.

“Sleeping on the back means that your tongue and jaw can fall down and crowd your airway,” says Dr. Lois Krahn of the Mayo Clinic. “And many people snore more.”

I wish I didn’t have to change positions.

It turns out the majority of people - 60 percent - sleep on their sides with men sleeping on their sides more than women.

Is one side better than the other?

The Sleep Foundation suggests sleeping on the left side since sleeping on the right may increase pressure on internal organs.

That is why experts recommend the left for pregnant women and sleepers with acid reflux. Back sleeping is the second most popular way to sleep.

What about stomach sleepers? The Sleep Foundation says getting your sleep this way may put too much pressure on your neck and spine.

The Sleep Foundation says changing your sleeping position requires patience. Sleep experts suggest using pillows to help train your body to the new position.

I will try sleeping on my back a while longer, but a new problem has cropped up: I am developing a pressure sore on my heel.

Because of my paraplegia, I am always on the alert for pressure sores. I just never thought of developing one on my heel.

When it comes to sleeping with a disability, it seems as if there is always something to deal with.

It’s enough to keep me up at night.


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