Working Till We Drop: Posture and Sleep

People in Australia are working harder and for longer than ever before. Click clack fingers tap on keyboards. It seems incessant and indeed it is. 

Work Life balance. It’s a contentious issue and there is no consensus on the matter. The baby boomers think the millennials are entitled, too busy #graming instead of working, while millennials look at their parents and think of how much easier it seemed to be able to buy a house and settle-down back then. Managers think their employees are uncommitted because they don’t stay back late enough when there’s a deadline to meet, while employees think their boss is a stern person with a narrow focus and unrealistic expectations.   

Yet both millennial and baby boomers, bosses and employees, seem to agree that they work too much. A 2014 survey by the Australia Institute showed that 42.1% of people thought balance between work and life had gotten worse, while only 28.1% thought it was getting better. One may evoke the trope of progress to argue that things have surely improved since 2014, but in 2017, Seek Learning reported that only 27% of people thought that work didn't disrupt their home life. 

We are lucky to live in a developed nation with a services based economy. Indeed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimate that services account for 70% of Australia’s GDP. But this leaves a lot of Australian’s sitting in an office. This office will generally have a number swivel chairs, facing desks which hold a number of computers, haloed by the ethereal glow of energy efficient LED lighting. 


Staring at a computer all day means craning your neck towards the monitor from 9 - 5, if you’re lucky. Especially if you’re using excel or photoshop, which from personal experience, involves a significant amount of neck-craning and eye-squinting.

We did a quick survey, and it turns out 70% of people with neck pain list their posture at work as a primary cause. Turns out this is backed-up by science. In-fact, every physiotherapist we spoke to concurred with the proposition that posture was a causal factor of neck pain. This is because certain postures, such as craning the neck, strains and aggravates the surrounding muscular-skeletal structures and tissues.  

By the same logic, physiotherapists have also concurred that correct posture helps alleviate neck pain and aid the recovery process. This means adopting a position where the vertebrae of the neck are naturally aligned, which ensures that tensions in the surrounding tissue is minimised. Much of our bodily recovery (healing) occurs in our sleep, and it is thus essential to optimise the process. However, neck and shoulder pain is often created or exacerbated by the use of incompatible, unsupportive pillows which are the wrong height and contour. This angles the head and neck in unnatural, tension-creating ways, just like what happens during the course of your work day spent staring at the computer.  

Consequently, to ensure that sleep actually does aid in the recovery from neck pain, and doesn't end up making your neck pain worse, it is essential that your pillow is exactly right for your specific shoulder-head-neck structure.