Sleep – Best Practices & Recommendations

The importance of sleep

At Empowered Health Chiropractic, our Geelong chiropractors understand the important role sleep has on our health and wellbeing. It only takes a few sub-optimal nights of sleep to quickly see the downside sleep can have on our energy, mood and productivity. Reduced sleep quality also increases our sensitivity to stress and pain, increased injury risk and impairs immune system function.

Our Geelong chiropractors understand that getting sleep back on track is an important pillar in managing pain and function in the short term, but also in sustaining good health in the long term.

Here are some off the ways sleep helps us maintain good health and well-being:

  • Lowers stress sensitivity. Sleep makes you more tolerable and less sensitive to stress, which can help reduce muscle tension build up, clenching & grinding behaviours and much more.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can increase appetite and make it harder to lose weight.
  • Lower your risk of chronic diseases. Sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
  • Improve your mood and cognitive function. When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to experience mood swings, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Sleep also helps to consolidate memories and improve learning.
  • Protect your immune system. Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to get sick.
  • Reduce your risk of accidents. Sleep deprivation can impair your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This can increase your risk of accidents, both at home and on the road.

Getting your sleep back on track

Here are some best practices for a good night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This will help to regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music. Avoid watching TV or using electronic devices in the hour before bed, as the blue light emitted from these devices can interfere with sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool. Darkness helps to promote the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Noise and light can disrupt sleep, so make sure your bedroom is as quiet and dark as possible. A cool temperature (around 18 degrees celsius) is also ideal for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed. Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, while alcohol can disrupt sleep later in the night.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise can help to improve sleep quality, but it’s important to avoid exercising too close to bedtime. Aim to finish your workout at least 3 hours before bed.
  • See a health professional. If you’ve tried the above tips and you’re still having trouble sleeping, talk to your health professional. There may be an underlying condition that’s interfering with your sleep.

Here are some additional tips that may help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Nap during the day if you need to, but keep it short (30 minutes or less).
  • Avoid napping too late in the day, as this can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Napping can reduce the build up of adenosine, which is responsible for helping us sleep.
  • Avoid eating large meals or sugary foods before bed. This can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel tired. This will help to prevent you from associating your bed with frustration and wakefulness.
  • If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try some relaxation techniques before bed. Aiming to calm your central nervous system, this could include deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

Following these tips can help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energized.

References

  1. Vladyslav V Vyazovskiy (2015) Sleep, recovery, and metaregulation: explaining the benefits of sleep, Nature and Science of Sleep, 7:, 171-184, DOI: 10.2147/NSS.S54036
  2. Zachary A. Caddick, Kevin Gregory, Lucia Arsintescu, Erin E. Flynn-Evans, A review of the environmental parameters necessary for an optimal sleep environment, Building and Environment, Volume 132, 2018, Pages 11-20, ISSN 0360-1323, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.01.020.

Improve Your Sleep With These 3 Tips

How to improve your sleep

Sleep is essential for our physical, mental and overall health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and an increased risk of workplace and exercise-related injuries.

There are many things we can do to improve our sleep quality, in this article our Geelong chiropractors will highlight some of the advice we often give our clients wanting to improve their sleep.

Read our more extensive sleep article here, where we cover my strategies to optimise your sleep quality.

Daily sunlight exposure

Sunlight helps to regulate our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. When we get enough sunlight during the day, it helps us to feel more alert and awake, while preparing our body to wind down in the evening. Try to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight exposure each day, especially in the morning.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day

Caffeine and alcohol can both disrupt sleep, in particular the slow wave sleep phases of deep and REM sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep, but can also reduce our time spent in these restorative phases of sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it can also disrupt our slow wave sleep and reduce the overall quality of our sleep. If you’d like to optimise your sleep quality, it’s best to avoid caffeine and alcohol approximately 10 hours prior to sleep.

Regular exercise

Exercise can help to improve sleep quality and help facilitate our sleep-wake cycle. Important to note that exercising too close to sleep can have a negative affect on sleep quality. Exercising earlier in the day is preferential or at least 4-6 hours prior to sleep.

References

  1. Pei-Yu Yang, Ka-Hou Ho, Hsi-Chung Chen, Meng-Yueh Chien,
    Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems: a systematic review, Journal of Physiotherapy, Volume 58, Issue 3, 2012, Pages 157-163, ISSN 1836-9553, https://doi.org/10.1016/S1836-9553(12)70106-6.
  2. Daniel Freeman, Bryony Sheaves, Guy M Goodwin, Ly-Mee Yu, Alecia Nickless, Paul J Harrison, Richard Emsley, Annemarie I Luik, Russell G Foster, Vanashree Wadekar, Christopher Hinds, Andrew Gumley, Ray Jones, Stafford Lightman, Steve Jones, Richard Bentall, Peter Kinderman, Georgina Rowse, Traolach Brugha, Mark Blagrove, Alice M Gregory, Leanne Fleming, Elaine Walklet, Cris Glazebrook, E Bethan Davies, Chris Hollis, Gillian Haddock, Bev John, Mark Coulson, David Fowler, Katherine Pugh, John Cape, Peter Moseley, Gary Brown, Claire Hughes, Marc Obonsawin, Sian Coker, Edward Watkins, Matthias Schwannauer, Kenneth MacMahon, A Niroshan Siriwardena, Colin A Espie, The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS): a randomised controlled trial with mediation analysis, The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 4, Issue 10, 2017, Pages 749-758, ISSN 2215-0366, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30328-0.

Clenching Or Grinding Your Jaw? How To Help

What causes us to grind or clench? | TMJ Chiropractor

Jaw clenching or grinding, otherwise known as bruxism, can be a common yet problematic issue when managing TMJ and facial pain. Bruxism can be further distinguished as sleep bruxism, awake bruxism and non-specified bruxism. In order to effectively relieve and manage jaw clenching or grinding, we must initially understand the underlying cause of the behaviour. At an individual level, certain personality traits, such as those with high stress sensitivity or anxious traits, are more likely to develop TMJ pain associated with bruxism.

While bruxism can be chacterised as clenching our teeth during the day or grinding our teeth during our sleep, these behaviours are clearly an effect or output of a wound up or heightened state of nervous system activity. For example, have you ever noticed when you are under significant stress, no matter the origin, that you find yourself more likely to clench, hold tension through your jaw, neck or shoulders?

In summary, it’s important to understand this concept, teeth or jaw clenching and grinding is likely an output or an effect of a heightened central nervous system state. In order to effectively manage it, the underlying nervous system state needs to be considered in the overall management. This is why our Geelong TMJ chiropractors take a holistic and comprehensive approach to the assessment, diagnosis and management of TMJ disorders related to grinding and clenching.

Here's what our Geelong TMJ chiropractors recommend for reducing grinding and clenching behaviours

-Understand your triggers-

Do you ever notice that when you’re under significant stress, whether that be with work, family or any other potential stressor for that matter, that your clenching or grinding becomes more noticeable?

If this is you, chances are you have an underlying nervous system cause of your clenching or grinding.

You don’t know what you don’t know, better understanding your triggers, traits or behaviours when exposed to certain stressors in a good start in managing this long term.

 

Manage your triggers

By managing, I don’t mean trying to control every single stress that gets thrown our way because that never really ends well. Instead, learning to better manage how we respond and ultimately allow these stresses manifest is far more realistic.

Mindfulness-based, non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) strategies have shown to promote a calming and pacifying effect on our central nervous system.

 

-Improve your awareness-

Watch the video to see what our Geelong TMJ chiropractors recommend for improving jaw and muscle awareness.

-Promote better jaw muscle and joint function-

In this video, our Geelong TMJ chiropractors discuss an easy-to-implement exercise to promote better joint and muscle function.

References

  1. Zheng B, Ma J, Wang X, Pu Y, Sun H, Su Y, Yang Q, Lu S, He H. A review about risk factors for bruxism in adults. anxiety. 2022 Mar 1;4(3):33-8. doi: 10.25236/FMSR.2022.040306
  2. Demjaha G, Kapusevska B, Pejkovska-Shahpaska B. Bruxism Unconscious Oral Habit in Everyday Life. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Mar 14;7(5):876-881. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.196. PMID: 30962854; PMCID: PMC6447347.
  3. Ronald E. Goldstein, Wendy Auclair Clark, The clinical management of awake bruxism, The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 148, Issue 6, 2017, Pages 387-391, ISSN 0002-8177, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.03.005.

Top Ways To Improve Your Spine Health

Top Ways To Improve Your Spine Health In 2023 | Chiropractor Geelong

One of the most common questions our Geelong chiropractors get asked by our clients – What can I do to improve my spine health? While there isn’t a simple answer, however, like most facets of our health, consistency plays a large role. While there may be better, or more effective methods, the best method is the one that is sustainable over a lengthy period of time.

In this blog post, our Geelong chiropractors will share the top ways we help our clients with low back pain, upper back pain and neck pain, while ultimately, getting our client’s spines moving, feeling & functioning at their best going forward.

Move well, move often & move variably

Regular movement of the spine is essential in ensuring proper function of the spine, but in the long-term, is vital for spinal health and overall health.

Starting, maintaining & thriving with a regular exercise routine, often a key pillar our Geelong chiropractors educate our clients on.

Once our clients have maintained a regular exercise regime, we may then suggest exposing the body to different movements, exercises or activities to broadened the body and nervous system’s adaptability.

Aiming to promote better muscle, joint and nerve function.

Prioritise sleep

Ensuring your moving and exercising regularly is one thing, prioritising your sleep and recovery is another.

Sleep not only plays a role in our ability to recover stronger, more resilient & robust from exercise, but allows us to be manage, mitigate and buffer the stressors in our lives.

Establishing a regular nightly sleep routine, and ideally, waking up in the morning feeling refreshed is a good sign of quality sleep.

Manage stresses

Now that we know sleep can buffer and mitigate the detrimental effects of sleep, there are other strategies you can employ to reduce the negative impact stress can have on your spine health and health overall.

Increased, sustained levels of stress can increase central nervous system sensitivity, elevate muscle tension and much more, ideally something we want to be able to manage well over our life times.

Regular mediation (look into NSDR or non-sleep, deep rest techniques), engaging in regular social and/or joyous activities, meaningful & purposeful work, formal exercise & physical activity regime, and of course, sleep, are all proven ways to better manage our stress levels.

References

  1. Traeger AC, Buchbinder R, Elshaug AG, Croft PR, Maher CG. Care for low back pain: can health systems deliver?. Bull World Health Organ. 2019;97(6):423-433. doi:10.2471/BLT.18.226050