6 Facets of Health for the New Year – Part 2: Sleep

Peak Performance Chiropractic6 aspects of health Spinal Health6 Facets of Health for the New Year – Part 2: Sleep

Sleep… It can refresh us and renew us… or drive us crazy trying to get it… or aggravate us trying to fight it.


As we look to improve our health in 2015, sleep is a large part of that. Sleep is the time we give our bodies to recover from the day, heal, mentally work through everything that happened, waking up with new energy, hopefully feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

But for many of us, this isn’t always the case. How can we capitalize on the time we spend sleeping, giving our bodies the best chance to restore, recover, and refresh?

1. When do you sleep? Do you pound the caffeine late into the afternoon, knowing you’ll have to stay up late to finish that project your boss wants on his desk in the morning? Do you have to work a 3rd shift? do you stay up late on the couch to watch the Late Show? Do you sleep in late every morning and have a hard time getting yourself out of bed? Do you wake up extra early to get that extra time at the gym? Studies show that the best time frame to get your sleep is between the hours of 1opm and 6am.

2. How long should you sleep? Most adults need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep to process the day, heal, and restore properly. This gives you plenty of options based on rule #1: If you go to bed at 10, wake up between 4 and 6 for that morning cup of Joe! Like to stay up til midnight? Set your alarm for 6ish. Need to wake up at 5 for that early morning commute? Head to bed before 11pm for sure!!

3. Why do you toss and turn? Why can’t you fall asleep? There are many reasons we don’t sleep WELL. Perhaps your nervous system is stuck in “fight or flight” and you need Chiropractic adjustments to help balance your system. Do you watch the news or a violent TV program right before hitting the hay? This can stimulate your adrenals and make it harder to enter the “rest and digest” phase of your nervous system. Try taking a 10 minute bath before bedtime, or reading a light book or mindless magazine to relax and unwind before closing your eyes. Turn off the news earlier (better yet, ignore it altogether – it’s 99% negative anyway!) Do you lie awake making a list of what you have to do tomorrow? Are you a night worrier? If you wake up often, or your mind is racing, try putting a pad of paper and pen next to your bed. If something is on your mind, write it down – you can deal with it in the morning, but now your mind is clear to let go and relax.

4. Do you wake up sore? In pain? Arms numb? There is something to be said for having the right mattress, and one that isn’t 20 years old… Assuming you have a good mattress, it’s time to take a look at the position in which you are sleeping. Don’t think it matters how you sleep? You spend almost a third of your life doing it – let’s make sure you aren’t taxing your body in the process. Still not sure? Try holding your arm up above your head for 6 hours and then let me know what you think 😉

The number one position to avoid: your stomach. Unless you are renting out Claudia’s massage table for the night, there is no biomechanically safe way to sleep on your stomach. First, you have to turn your head to the side to be able to breathe. This puts strain with the hours of rotation towards one side of your neck. Second, it creates extreme extension in your lower back, which is not a healthy position to spend that much time in. Stomach sleepers often complain of lower back soreness and aching when they wake up, in addition to possible neck stiffness, pain, decrease in range of motion, or headaches. So how CAN you sleep? Your best bet is on either side or your back. Check out the tips below for how to make both positions as comfortable as possible.

Side Sleepers: This position can work, but you need to be aware of a few things. First, when you sleep on your side, you want your neck to be straight. This means typically only using one or two pillows. If your neck bends sharply up or down, it will create long term stress on the nerves and joints in that area. Next, your pelvis is naturally wider than your knees when pressed together. This can create rotation or torsion at the pelvis and lower back if you always sleep on your sides. To remedy this, place a folded towel or thin pillow between your knees. Not only does this help people who toss and turn stay in one place, it modifies your leg placement to keep stress off the lower back. If your shoulders hurt when side sleeping, check to make sure they are below your pillow, not on it. Put slight extension into your neck so that your chin isn’t tucked into your chest.

Back Sleepers: Take a look at someone from the side. We aren’t flat like a stick figure. The “junk in your trunk” that makes us more shapely also means that when you sleep on your back, you have places that don’t touch the mattress fully, typically at the level of your lower back. This can create pain in the area by the time we wake up. To remedy this, roll up a towel or use a smaller pillow and place it under your knees. This takes pressure off the joints and discs in your lumbar region for much more comfortable sleeping. Side benefit: Your toes no longer are at war with the tucked in sheets at the bottom of the bed! As for the pillow: You want to support the natural curve of your neck without straightening or flexing too much. The easiest way to do this is with a cervical support pillow. You can also play around with the number of pillows you are using to find the level that keeps your head in line with your spine.

Need help positioning? Ask one of the Doctors the next time you are in the office – we are happy to help! 970-232-9258

Remember that even though our lives get crazy, sleep is necessary to give our bodies the chance it needs to heal, fight off invaders, and restore from the hubbub of our lives. Make it count!

Happy New Year!


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