Sleep problems are actually extremely common in our society, and they can have serious consequences. Sleep problems can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, loss of energy, fatigue and emotional instability, and in the longer term, can elevate your risk of serious health conditions including high blood pressure and heart attack. And poor sleeping can cause difficulties with learning, memory, thinking and feelings, which may lead to poor school and work performance. Furthermore, problem sleepiness can manifest as drowsy driving or workplace accidents and errors.

Aside from some of the more serious things that could be negatively affecting your sleep, there are some variables or situations that you can have more control over. Let's talk about how to change your sleeping conditions so you sleep easier and get the rest your body needs:

1. The Right Sleep Position: The position that is the least stressful on your body is on your back with a pillow under your neck and another under your knees so they are comfortably bent. Bent knees give the lower (lumbar) spine support. The pillow under the neck gives it support as well. However, not many people are able to stay in this position for an entire night. Also, people who snore tend to avoid sleeping on their back because their snoring becomes worse.

2. The Right Mattress: Try to have as firm and supportive of a mattress as you can for your body. Also find out about the warranty. Good mattress companies provide a warranty that pretty much guarantees your satisfaction. It may include a trial period (to see if the bed works) and a money-back guarantee if you don't like it.

Pillow tops are not necessarily a good thing. Much of the time, pillow tops soften up the surface of your bed too much, which means it will not support your body well. You need to see how it feels when you sleep on it. Memory foam mattresses and tops are very supportive, and they do mold to your body. The only drawback is that they can trap heat. If you run hot at night, this may not be the mattress for you.

3. The Right Pillow: In general, your pillow must support you in the sleep positions you are in at night. If you only sleep on your back, your pillow must support your neck accordingly. If you only sleep on your side, the pillow must be thick enough to support the entire part of the body from the neck to the shoulder at a 90 degree angle. If you sleep on both your back and your side, the pillow needs to support both positions.

Custom-made pillows are available that can provide you with the proper support for your body and sleep patterns. Your doctor can actually take measurements of your body so a pillow can be created to fit you perfectly.

To learn more about proper sleep position and what you can do to ensure a good night's rest, talk to your doctor.