A good night’s sleep, just like proper nutrition, healthy water,
exercise and regular adjustments, is essential to your mental,
emotional and physical health. While sleeping, our bodies regenerate
A good night’s sleep, just like proper nutrition, healthy water, exercise and regular adjustments, is essential to your mental, emotional and physical health. While sleeping, our bodies regenerate and recharge. Many people in today’s society do not receive full rest, regeneration and recharging from their sleep. There are a number of factors involved, that once addressed can lead to a better night’s sleep.
Optimal Sleep Hours
It is a common belief that the optimal amount of sleep for adults is eight hours per night. However, more recent studies show that six to seven hours of sleep per night is optimal.1 The largest study was a six-year one of more than one million adults, ages 30 to 102. The study found that people who live the longest report sleeping for six to seven hours per night, while individuals who slept eight hours or more, or less than four hours per night, were shown to have a significantly higher mortality rate.2
Sleep is divided into two types, rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non rapid-eye-movement (non-REM) sleep. Non-REM sleep is anabolic, or a ‘building’ stage during which growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, muscular, and skeletal systems occurs. Upon falling asleep, individuals go through a 90-minute cycle of non-REM sleep followed by REM sleep, and this cycle repeats throughout the night. The most optimal time for non-REM sleep is before midnight. This is for two reasons. The first is because the ratio of non-REM-to-REM sleep within these 90-minute cycles changes across the night, with more non-REM sleep in the cycles early in the night and more REM sleep in the cycles later in the night. There is also a hormone involved called melatonin. Melatonin is produced at night to help promote healing and boost our immune system. It is produced at it’s highest levels before midnight.3 Thus if we get our seven hours of sleep between 10pm-5am, we will be much better rested, rejuvenated and recharged than if we slept from 1am-8am.
Resting the Mind
Our society has people working all hours, at a fast pace. There is often a lot of multitasking, and stress is usually high. By the end of the day the mind is full of thousands of different thoughts and processes, ideas or concerns. A mind that is reeling, and still in motion hinders a more restful, regenerative, recharging sleep. There are a number of rituals before sleep to help rest the mind. These include prayer, journaling, visualization, breath work, yoga, and meditation. All of these things help to still or calm the mind. Thoughts will still appear, but with less impact of arousing the mind.
Sleep Surface: The Foundation
Like most warm blooded animals, we need to lie down when we sleep because of the extremely relaxed state of our muscles during REM sleep. If we fall asleep as a passenger in the car, in a chair or on a couch, our muscles can cramp up or joints stiffen when in unhealthy positions for prolonged periods. For optimal rest, regeneration and recharging, we need to be stretched out on a comfortable supportive sleep surface. The quality of our sleep will improve. There are many components to choosing the best sleep surface.
Pressure Relief – The right sleep surface should conform to your posture and weight. A firm mattress isn’t always best. An overly firm mattress will cut off blood flow and put excess pressure on joints, making you uncomfortable.
Proper Alignment – Your head, shoulders, hips and mid-ankles need to be in line for optimal rest, regeneration and recharging. That is because this posture allows for optimal nerve function. If you’re sleeping on the wrong mattress, or on a bed that is the wrong firmness, poor postural support will result in the same stiffness and cramping as sleeping in the car, and possible nerve pressure.
Gone are the days when it was believed that a firm mattress was the healthiest. A mattress that is too hard creates pressure points because it does not conform to the spine and its healthy curves. A mattress that is too soft, on the other hand, creates a hammock effect where the healthy spinal curves are lost in the cushiness. A new emerging technology is a customized sleep surface that is personalized for spinal health, comfort and weight. It is a layered system using better quality material, with different compressions, to satisfy comfort and support needs.
Most conventional mattresses are made of tempered steel coils in a variety of configurations. Layers of foam are placed on top for insulation and cushioning between your body and the springs. These mattresses lose their support and comfort, because the layers are made with a cheaper grade of foam that flattens with use.
New developments in foam have made foam based mattresses -without coils – the fastest growing sleep surface. The most popular type of mattress sold in North America over the past year was a memory foam mattress. Unique to foam mattresses is the fact that they can be customized. A customized foam mattress allows you to choose the weight and type of foam that goes into the mattress. This helps promote proper spinal alignment by choosing the recommended firmness and type of foam for you. And it also allows you to sleep comfortably while keeping your spine straight in its natural alignment whether you are lying and your side or your back.
Before purchasing a mattress it is important to get to know your foam first because foam is the key comfort ingredient used in all mattresses. There are over forty grades of foam to choose from including various grades of memory foam, natural latex rubber, and the latest high resiliency soy-based foam which is made with renewable resources. It is good for you and the environment.
The Role of the Chiropractor
Chiropractors can achieve the tools to address the sleep questions that arise within our practice.
To help our patients achieve optimal health and wellness, chiropractors can help to customize sleep. Weekly or monthly wellness workshops can be the best time to share how to “sleep well” with your patients. When asked what kind of mattress is recommended, the customized sleep program (briefly outlined above) allows us to include a prescription for a customized foam mattress that will take into consideration a patient’s weight, posture, spinal curves, spinal condition, sleep position and comfort preference. •
- Jane E. Ferrie, Martin J. Shipley, Francesco P. Cappuccio, Eric Brunner, Michelle A. Miller, Meena Kumari, and Michael G. Marmot. “A prospective study of change in sleep duration; associations with mortality in the Whitehall II cohort”. SLEEP 2007; 30(12):1659-66.
- Daniel F. Kripke, MD; Lawrence Garfinkel, MA; Deborah L. Wingard, PhD; Melville R. Klauber, PhD; Matthew R. Marler, PhD “Mortality associated with sleep duration and insomnia.” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002;59:131-136.
- Shafii, Mohammad. “Melatonin in Psychiatric and Neoplastic Disorders” American Psychiatric Pub, 1998: 282.
Dr. C. Gus Tsiapalis, president of TeamChiropracticGTA.com, and Sleep Expert Advisor for Foamite Industries Inc, has been providing family wellness chiropractic care in Vaughan, ON since 1999. He has been helping make subluxation a household word since graduating in 1995, and now brings a special focus to the sleep component of subluxation. To learn more about the Customized Sleep Program or to take part in it contact Dr Gus at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him direct at 416-885-0827.
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