Category Archives: Sleep

5 Simple Tips to Improve SLEEP

In an ideal world, you would be falling asleep within minutes of hitting your pillow. Unfortunately, this is far from reality for thousands of people. A full 40 percent of people sleep less than eight hours every night, and even falling asleep is far from a simple process.

Sleep Like a Baby

Between one-third and half of all adults in the United States suffer from insomnia, and research collected from 1905 to 2008 shows that children have lost an average of a minute of sleep per night each year during that time period. Good quality sleep is more rare today than ever before. All while research shows that your quality of sleep should be a priority. 

Before I get to my sleep tips, I want to be clear that having the correct mattress for your condition and sleep style is extremely important. I often recommend specific mattresses for my patients, but if you are not a patient, Quality Sleep Mattress Store in Bellevue is my top choice for custom matching a mattress.

If you have eliminated your mattress as the source of poor quality of sleep, now you can read further as these are definitely secondary to a quality mattress.

So, what can you do to improve your sleep each night? These tips are the place to start.

 

#1. Control Artificial Light Exposure

One of the biggest factors for how well you sleep each night is the amount of light you are exposed to. We evolved to be extremely sensitive to even slight variations in light levels, ensuring that evening skies lead us to feel drowsy.

 

Today, however, an overabundance of artificial light is keeping us awake. Your phone, laptop screen, and TV all emit “blue light” which triggers your body into thinking that it’s daytime no matter what the clock says. In fact, looking at a cell phone screen late at night has been found to keep people up for hours longer than they would be otherwise.

To fall asleep faster, put all your electronics aside at least two hours before hitting your pillow to prevent your brain from getting stimulated. Also, many cell phones now have a “night mode” that essentially turns off the blue lights that come from your screen. I recommend 2 hours in this mode before sleep or ideally, no electronics at all.

#2. Don’t Stress About Sleep

STRESS about not falling asleep and you’ll, no doubt, NOT fall asleep. If you’re starting to feel anxious about the sleep you’re missing out on, it’s important to stop this mental pattern before it gets out of control.

Don’t let yourself dwell on how bad you’ll feel in the morning, and think instead about how much easier falling asleep will be the next night. Evidence shows that letting go of worry while falling asleep helps you fall asleep faster, just by removing your underlying anxiety.

#3. Practice Relaxation Techniques

The old methodology of ‘counting sheep’ might be more beneficial for your health than you think. Simple relaxation techniques can do a lot to focus your mind to help you fall asleep, so consider experimenting to find what works for you. Some people practice a twenty-minute yoga routine before bed, others practice meditation or read books in bed.

Often, the routine itself is just as crucial of a trigger that it’s time to wind down as what you do, so being consistent is key.

#4. Get Out of Bed When Necessary

If you really can’t sleep, there’s no point in lying in bed willing things to be different. Instead, get up, make a cup of tea, or spend time with a book in your living room. Don’t turn on your TV or use your smartphone though, as the artificial light will make you stay up longer.

In most cases, the change in routine (of laying sleepless) will help you forget your anxiety about still being awake, and you’ll fall asleep again quickly.

#5. Avoid Chemical Substances

Contrary to what you might think, alcohol makes sleeping more difficult. Cigarettes, caffeine, and spicy meals also disrupt sleep, so keep your food and drinks relatively bland in the hours before bedtime for the best results.

Falling asleep shouldn’t be a struggle. Experiment with these tips, and you’ll be getting better sleep in no time. Here is another blog on the very same topic that you may also consider.

Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

Ending the evening with a little vino is more guilt-free than you know. The health benefits of drinking red wine have been studied for decades, and research shows that it pays off to indulge.

Just one glass of high-quality wine a day can provide numerous health benefits, including:

Red wine#1. Boosting Heart Health

The polyphenols in wine make it beneficial for keeping blood vessels from forming blood clots. Likewise, research shows that drinking red wine can slow down the development of atherosclerosis, which causes a fatty buildup of cholesterol in your artery walls. In the same way, resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, can protect heart tissue from damage after a stroke or heart attack by keeping your arteries relaxed so more blood can flow through.

In fact, moderate amounts of wine are almost as effective as aspirin for your heart health, though overindulging can quickly lead to the opposite effect.


#2. Lessening the Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is a high priority for anyone. Especially one that’s seen the impact of the disease on their family or friends. Adding red wine to your routine might lower your risk.


Research shows that people who eat a Mediterranean diet (which prominently features red wine) are 28 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, and 48 percent less likely to progress from mild impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. These benefits are attributed to resveratrol. Resveratrol is considered a crucial antioxidant for reducing antioxidant stress and inflammation. This can lead to reduction of the cognitive decline over time. 

#3. Providing a Natural Antioxidant Boost

Free radicals cause endless problems for your health and contribute to the development of chronic diseases. These diseases include cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular issues and more. However, the potent antioxidant properties of red wine give your body what it needs to stay healthy and fight off this damage.

 

Resveratrol is essential for fighting inflammation, and quercetin can reduce the effects of aging. Beyond fighting chronic disease, red wine might keep you healthier on a daily basis, too. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank 14 weekly servings of wine were 40 percent less likely to come down with a cold, making a single glass a smart choice for staying healthy.

 

#4. Helping Manage Diabetes

Drinking red wine may change how your body processes glucose, research shows. Researchers have found that red wine slows how quickly glucose passes through your bloodstream. It does this by inhibiting the enzymes that handle glucose. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar that can contribute to type 2 diabetes, meaning that wine may have a role in a diabetic diet plan. White wine seems to be only 10 percent as effective, making red the clear winner.

 

While the health benefits of red wine are profound, it’s important to remember that more wine doesn’t lead to more health benefits.  It can cause more problems than it helps if you are not careful. So take a drink for your health, but remember to enjoy in moderation.

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Sleep Positions and Posture During Pregnancy

 

pregnantbackpainLet’s face it, most people don’t have the best posture to begin with. Unless you happened to attend an old-timey finishing school where you were forced to walk around balancing a book on your head, chances are good you’re one of the many adults that slouches and suffers from back and neck pain as a result. And when you discover that you’re pregnant, you’re in for even more problems. As your body puts on weight, your posture is likely to get even worse – that is, of course, unless you become aware of the changes that your body is undergoing. If you do, you can take steps to keep your back aligned (biomechanically speaking) and correct the posture issues contributing to the decline in your spinal health.

You obviously want to maintain your overall health as much as possible for the benefit of your baby, but also for yourself. The way you position your body during pregnancy, during both waking and sleeping hours, can help to ease the heavy burden you’ll carry for the next several months, keeping you as comfortable as possible throughout the process. If you’re looking for ways to ensure a smooth(er) pregnancy, the following are just a few sleep positions and posture basics to get you started.

Sleep on Your Left Side

If you’ve read any literature pertaining to what you should expect when you’re expecting, you’ve no doubt discovered that sleeping on your stomach is a major no-no. Well, that’s just common sense. You might be more surprised, though, to learn that you should also avoid sleeping on your back. As your baby grows and you gain weight, this position can lead to labored breathing and pressure on internal organs. Sleeping on your side is best and sleeping on your left side is actually better than the right. This position aids circulation and it stops the growing baby inside you from putting undue pressure on your liver all night long.

As a side note, proper posture and spinal alignment during slumber can generally be better maintained by sleeping with a body pillow (click here for a Structurally approved body pillow). Place it between your knees and arms to keep your body in the most desirable and comfortable position.

Stand Up Straight

If you don’t want to end up looking like Igor or Quasimodo in your twilight years (don’t get me wrong, I do love them both), you should probably strive to stand up straight all of the time, but it is especially important to observe proper posture when you’re pregnant and you have an extra 20 to 40 pounds weighing you down. Standing up straight does require some amount of attention to detail, and because practice makes perfect, here are a few points to keep in mind where posture is concerned.

Hold your head straight and try to keep your earlobes aligned with your shoulders (as viewed from the side). Keep your shoulder blades pulled back (but not up – be mindful of shrugging your shoulders up as it will increase the tension in your neck). Pull your stomach up and in, and tuck your pelvis so that your back doesn’t arch. Point your feet forward and don’t lock your knees. These are the “basics”. And when you’re pregnant, try to move around frequently rather than standing in the same spot for any great duration. As always, I will gladly teach this to you during one of our complimentary consultations along with explaining how Webster technique may be able to help you.

Sit Up Straight

Sitting is seen by most patients as a chance to relax, but sinking into your favorite La-Z-Boy is nothing but an excuse to slouch. If you want to preserve your spinal health during pregnancy, it’s important that you sit up straight. If you’re having trouble doing so, try to sit in straight-back chairs and add lumbar support in the form of a lumbar pillow as mentioned below.

Support Your Lower Back

Okay, remembering to sit and stand tall is all well and good, but it does take some work. Luckily, you can cheat a bit by using lumbar support, at least when sitting. You will not find a shortage of pregnancy-related products, and that includes pillows. But you need not shell out beaucoup bucks for a specialty pillow. A sturdy bolster or even a rolled towel will do the trick. Simply position it behind your lower back when sitting for an extra measure of support. This will help you relax and feel comfortable while still maintaining proper posture. If you want an inexpensive lumbar support, HERE is an Amazon link.

Try Pregnancy Yoga

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen the areas around your belly, pregnancy yoga can be a godsend. Gentle stretching will help to relieve the aches and pains of pregnancy, while also improving circulation and minimizing swelling. Yoga routines will strengthen key areas of the body. This will allow you body to better withstand the increased burden of gravity as your baby grows.

There you have it. Just a few tips to help make your pregnancy (or someone you care about) a little more comfortable.

As a perinatal and pediatric trained chiropractor, I understand that pregnancy can come with some “different” sensations. I offer complimentary consultations to discuss structural correction and/ or Webster technique during your pregnancy. Please share with moms, moms to be and aspiring moms as they all deserve know these easy tips.

How to Improve Your Sleep

We all know the frustration that comes with insomnia: watching the clock, counting the hours till morning, and flipping through late night channels. If you suffer from frequent insomnia, you’re not alone. Approximately 30% Americans are plagued with insomnia each year and even more struggle in one way or another with sleep, such as grogginess, poor concentration. But apart from these frustrating symptoms, poor sleep habits can result in long-term medical issues, including cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and depression. Luckily, with some small changes in your habits and sleep routine, you can take control of your sleep and boost your chances of getting better rest.

Limit Your Screen Time

Despite the urge to watch Netflix in bed, try leaving your computer, tablet, or television anywhere but the bedroom. Doing so can improve your sleep, even if you don’t suffer from full-fledged insomnia. Using electronic devices, including your phone, just before bed has been linked to irregular sleep patterns and poor sleep habits. So if you find yourself waking up exhausted or tossing and turning before falling asleep, switch out your laptop for a book.

Move Your Body

An aerobic workout may be enough to tire our your body and promote deep sleep. After all, regular exercise has been found to improve patterns of insomniacs. But even a single moderately paced exercise session may help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, at least for that night. Exercise may help with insomnia because it regulates your body temperature, reduces anxiety and depression, and helps to normalize your circadian rhythm.

Change Positions or Your Pillows

No matter how tired you are, you may find it difficult to get into a comfortable position and stay asleep. If neck pain or headaches are keeping you awake at night, you may want to re-consider your sleep position or even your pillows. After all, an individual’s reported pillow comfort is correlated with sleep quality. Aim for a position and pillow that prevents your neck from staying in neutral while you sleep. I recommend THIS PILLOW and even sell it in the office. I provided the Amazon link just in case you can save a few bucks by buying it from them. The goal is to improve your ability to get a good nights rest, not to sell you a pillow.

A good night of sleep is irreplacable

Address Pain

Aches and pain not only make it difficult to fall asleep but lead to frequent awakenings, painful mornings, and a restless night.

Unfortunately, pain and sleep may work in concert: pain can lead to poor sleep quality, and poor sleep quality can further exacerbate pain. To break free of this frustrating cycle, address the primary cause that is leading to a secondary condition of pain.

Get Checked For Sleep Apnea

If you are a snorer, wake up gasping for breath, or struggle to stay awake during the day, do yourself a favor and get checked for sleep apnea. It is a condition characterized by cessations in breathing during sleep and it is devastating to your health. Short periods of oxygen deprivation lead to numerous subsequent micro-awakenings, ones that you may not even remember. Although between three and seven percent of adults suffer from sleep apnea, very few get treatment for this potentially dangerous condition.

Consider Supplements

If all else fails, you may find yourself desperate for a good night’s rest. Hopefully you are not drawn to television advertisements for sleeping pills. Before you ask your doctor for a prescription, consider nutritional or herbal-based remedies that may help you get a better ZZZZZ’s. Look for foods that contain melatonin, including cherries. Some studies have found that melatonin supplementation reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases quality sleep time.

Replace That Old Mattress

If you are sleeping on a mattress that is more than 8 years old, stop! Take a deep breath, and imagine waking up in the morning without aches pains. I have tested, discarded, and been very disappointed MANY times over the years. There are two mattresses that I can recommend without hesitation. One is the Intellibed, a medical grade bed that is top notch. Unfortunately, like many mattresses, it is pricey. 

The second bed is one that I am extremely happy to share with you. It is the best memory foam mattress I have found. Yes, much better than the “brand name” that we always associate with memory foam and MUCH cheaper. Thankfully, it is cheap in price and TOP in quality. Save your money and brag to your friends that this bed is STRUCTURALLY APPROVED. Do yourself a favor and put this in your shopping cart now and get some much needed rest.

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