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Sleep for a Healthy Body: What We Know About Positive Sleep Hygiene

We can all agree there’s almost nothing more enjoyable than waking up after a refreshing, full night of sleep.

When it comes to sleep, there appears to be a healthy balance. Too little and we get irritable and can’t focus. Too much and we’re groggy and feel unrested. There’s something that happens to our bodies when we’re asleep. For all the research already done, we still cannot definitively say what sleep does for us.

That said, there are a number of things we know about sleep and its effect on our bodies.

Obviously, a good night’s sleep helps you to feel refreshed and gives you energy. Every night, we go through two different “styles” of sleep. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is characterized by a series of electrical flashes in your brain. There’s a lot of activity going on, and this is when you experience dreams and what causes you to move around during the night.

Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep encompasses most of the time you spend sleeping. During this time, your body’s temperature lowers and you tend not to move as much. In NREM, your body releases growth hormone which stimulates cell growth and regeneration. This is when your body’s tissues experience the most repair!

While we don’t understand how it happens, we do know that sleep is a key component of forming long-term memory. And likewise, better sleep patterns result in better cognitive functioning. A 2013 study from Nature Neuroscience examined the effects of sleep in adults and children. The study asked participants to remember a sequence of buttons. All participants were asked to recall the sequence later, some of them had an opportunity to nap before recalling, while the others had to stay awake. The group who slept could recall the pattern better than the group who didn’t (and it was the kids who scored best on the test).

In another study from the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, it was determined that taking some sleeping pills can increase memory recall…but only for negative memories. Taking sleeping aids decreases sleep spindle activity (bouts of brain activity.) This study shows us that by changing the physiology of your brain, you change how positive and negative emotions are stored.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what sleep can do for us, and there’s lots more to learn. There’s no doubt, however, that sleep is necessary and good for us. So when you settle down for the night, know that you’re doing something great for yourself!

Now it’s your turn: what does a good night’s sleep mean to you?

Share your experiences about sleep. How has good sleep impacted your life, your work, and your family? Add your comment below to join the discussion!

Resisting A Rest: Common Sleep Disorders

Most people have experienced an odd night of poor sleep due to stress, excess caffeine, or excitement. Usually, these sleepless nights lead to a grumbly, groggy, brain-foggy next day. It doesn’t feel good. Now, imagine experiencing that day after day after day.

For many Canadians, that’s a reality. There are a number of disorders that cause people to lose precious hours of sleep. Lack of sleep feels unpleasant and leads to decreased efficiency, increased anxiety, and can even change your physiology!

The good news is, many of these sleep conditions can be countered and normal sleeping patterns can be regained.

Insomnia Sleep Disorder

Insomnia is probably the best-known sleeping impairment. It’s defined by an inability to fall asleep, easily interrupted sleep, or early waking (without the ability to fall back asleep). Usually, these nights are followed by excessive daytime sleepiness, and symptoms such as increased moodiness, difficulty concentrating, and an increased sense of clumsiness.

Compared to past generations, we spend far more time in front of screens. A culprit contributing to insomnia sleep disorder may be the use of smartphones before bed. The light emanating from your phone shuts down the pineal gland, a very small part of your brain responsible for producing melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that tells our bodies to fall asleep.

Checking Instagram to calm down as you snuggle into bed is actually powering down the part of your brain required to initiate sleep.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your body loses the ability to breathe while sleeping. If you share a bed with someone, maybe you’ve heard them suddenly gasp, make choking sounds, or stop breathing altogether. This happens due to soft tissues blocking the airway and/or a discoordination of the breathing center in your brain.

Inadequate oxygen can create physiologic changes including mental health problems (depression/anxiety/mood swings/irritability), decreased ability to learn and remember, blood pressure changes, and increased stress on the heart.

A “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Device” is the most common tool used by people with this sleep disorder. The CPAP is fitted to the nose and blows a continuous stream of air to help keep the airway open.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Perhaps, while settling in for the night you’ve experienced a strong urge to move your leg and no matter how you position yourself you just don’t feel comfortable. This sensation is so common it’s been titled “Restless Leg Syndrome” or RLS.

Sometimes restlessness subsides after a few minutes. But some people can’t erase this sensation and it becomes so bothersome that it keeps the person from falling asleep. This could happen as single, isolated bouts. And unfortunately for some, it is a recurring problem.

It’s estimated that RLS is felt by 15% of Americans, and twice as common in women. Like most conditions, there are triggers that exacerbate it (drinking alcohol or caffeine, or intake of nicotine increases the jitters). Exercising and stretching before bed may help to calm down spastic muscles and curtail the need to move. If you experience this syndrome, maybe try going for an evening walk before bed!


If you’ve overcome troubled sleeping, we want to hear from you! We want to know what tips you can offer the community to help with some of these common sleep conditions. Add your comment below… it might change someone’s night!

Auto Accidents

It started with a routine trip to the store.

Suddenly you hear a screeching of tires and the harsh sound of metal hitting metal. In the split second before you can brace yourself, you feel your car moving from some unseen force!

Hidden Damage

It’s tempting to minimize your own injuries because your car has sustained little or no damage. Research shows that occupants can be injured considerably more than what you’d expect from a dented fender or a broken taillight.

 

The Medical Solution

If you visit the emergency room, you may be given a clean bill of health because you don’t have any broken bones. You might get a prescription to reduce the muscle spasms caused by structural changes in your neck or lower back.

After what you’ve been through, you’ll need a health professional that truly understands soft tissue injuries, spinal biomechanics and rehabilitation strategies.

Natural Health Calgary Chiropractor YYC Marda Loop

We Can Help

Whether it was a little incident in the parking lot, or two cars attempting to occupy the same space in an intersection, you need people who know how to work with lawyers and insurance companies.

If you’ve been in a car accident, give us a call. We’ve been through this many times. Not only can we usually offer drug-free care, we can help put this behind you once and for all.

 

Common Questions

  • Why do I have pain in my arms and hands? Because the nerves to the arms and hands exit the spine through the injured area of the neck, numbness and tingling are common. Even lower back pain can result directly from the trauma, or as a reaction to the loss of proper spinal curves.
  • Why did my headaches start more than a week after my accident? Whether you’ve been in an accident, stressed at work, or over-exerted yourself in the garden, your body is constantly adapting to the environment. When your capacity to adapt is exhausted, symptoms can appear. This can take days, weeks, months or years to occur.
  • Will I ever be normal again? Many chiropractic patients report improved spinal function and a reduction of their symptoms. Those who delay seeking appropriate care often discover that scar tissue and long-standing spinal instability increases the recovery period.