Ahh…the benefits of healthy sleep. Definitely one of the best DAILY deposits we can make for our long term health and well-being – especially considering the average human sleep approximately one third of every day over their entire lifetime!
But for many of us, good sleep is difficult to come by. Especially in our fast paced, technology driven society, the ability to slow or “wind down” comes with less ease as we age.
Modern research demonstrates that trying to live, work and play without adequate sleep creates major “stress” on our nerve system. The results, similar to stress related disorders include loss of focus, memory and motor skills. Along with that, researchers have observed compromised immunity, muscular system weakness and blood sugar levels out of balance. Of course, when we’re deprived of sleep, our moods also suffer to the point where we get irritable and cranky too.
It’s a main reason why so many professions, such as pilots, truck drivers, emergency room MDs, and midwives too, have such high restrictions on the number of hours in a row one can work without getting rest.
There are many reasons why we lose sleep. One thing for sure though is that sleep deprivation is rampant in our society. You can tell by the coffee mug huggers, Starbuck’s line ups, and Tim Horton’s drive throughs.
But did you know that sleep deprivation creates such an unhealthy state that the Guinness Book of World Records company no longer accepts people attempting to contest the world record because of the dangers associated with it.
Although we don’t often talk about sleep in our pyramid of wellness, if we were to put it on the chart, it would be placed above nutrition, and below water, oxygen and nerve supply.
Poor quality sleep, or prolonged sleep deprivation is extremely dangerous to long term health, including physiological effects such as: aching muscles, confusion, memory loss, depression, hallucinations, headaches, increased blood pressure, irritability, obesity, temper tantrums, symptoms similar to ADHD and psychosis, and increased stress hormone levels.
And the American Medical Association published a study most recently that shared that 75% of all diagnosable chronic degenerative disease including obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few are linked to exposure to chronic stress.
So…like a saw needs to be sharpened if repeatedly used, and a smart phone needs to be charged if you want your apps to work the next day, your organ systems also need a good healthy and oxygen rich sleep cycle in order for your body’s physiology to mount a coordinated effort of improved function, healing and repair.
Wellness then, requires a state of not only improved nutrition, water supply, oxygenation and nerve flow, but as well, a nightly dose of quality sleep too.
When it comes to improving your sleep potential, I recommend looking at 4 primary areas.
D is for DISCOVER. First you need to discover your how far from the normal state of health your spine might be. Remember your spine is the window to your brain and central nerve system and the more unhealthy it is, the higher the likelihood that your spinal cord and central intelligence line is suffering from congestion and interference too (we call it vertebral subluxation).
Next you need A to be sure you ADJUST your environment to suit you best. Be sure to look at things like sleep patterns, times and rhythms. Your goal is to create a healthy weekly rhythm that allows you to get to bed approximately 2-3 hours after sun down and wake up at a regular fixed time the next morning, preferably with no more than 6-7 hours of sleep.
Giraffes and Elephants can get by with less, but if you’re human, you need to charge your system daily for at least 5-8 hours of quality sleep.
Once you learn to adjust well, it’s now time for M, which allows you to MAINTAIN the improved changes you’ve made. Critical here is to be sure to be sure you consider improving all the variables you’ve introduced to date that are helping you increase the quality of your sleep including a new sleep time, effective pillows, a healthy sleep surface, and a healthy pre-sleep routine.
Routines are critical to improved sleep potential as most parents will attest to with young children at home. In fact there’s no need for this to stop when you become an adult too. To this day, our children still read from a favourite book before they turn off their lights and go to sleep.
The following 3 strategies will help you improve the potential for your sleep and give you a better chance of staying on the wellness path as you continue care with us here at Vaughan Chiropractic.
- Take time to quiet your mind before you sleep
- Create rhythm for your sleep cycle and stay within the optimal sleep hours suggested which is approximately 2-3 hours after sun down, for maximized REM sleep.
- Make sure the firmness of your sleep surface works best with your comfort, height/weight and spinal health state.
For more information about these and other strategies to improve your sleep potential…join us on Wednesday, April 24th at 6:30pm. We’ll be hosting our next Living Well workshop at Foamite, the Sleep Headquarters in Vaughan and giving each of you an opportunity to learn more about how to improve your sleep.