To Your Health
December, 2009 (Vol. 03, Issue 12)
Tips for Better Sleep
Talk to Your Doctor. If you're having a problem sleeping, you should make sure your doctor is aware of it. They may recommend keeping a sleep journal for a few weeks.
Include a description of your general attitude/emotions that day (happy, sad, overwhelmed, in control, etc.), the time you went to sleep, the amount of sleep (hours) you experienced, the number of times you woke up, if you felt the sleep was restful, significant activities that day, and any medication use.
Regular chiropractic adjustments help keep your nervous system at a calmer, more functioning state. Abnormal musculoskeletal function will take precious energy away from the normal sleep process. Studies have shown that many sleep disorders, depression and various anxieties are removed or controlled with proper chiropractic manipulation.
The Fan Is Your Friend. The simple use of a fan blowing in your face (well, not right into your face) provides several major benefits, according to current literature. First, your face is covered with millions of tiny hairs - even if you shave every day. Each one of those little hairs is connected to your sympathetic nervous system. (When a cat becomes frightened, notice that they arch their back and all of their hair stands up.) When you blow a fan on these hairs, they become "overstimulated" and will go through a phase called sensory adaptation. This constant stimulation will eventually force your body to ignore it. This happens to most people when they are wearing clothing, too; the body will usually stop sensing the clothing against your skin. So, using the same logic, the fan will help calm your sympathetic nervous system and you will be able to enter into a deeper sleep.
The Power of White Noise. White noise provides a distraction to your body and allows for a deep sleep. Your nervous system has two main branches, the parasympathetic and sympathetic. The parasympathetic division slows everything down and focuses primarily on increasing normal body function. The sympathetic division speeds everything up and primarily focuses on physical activity. It also increases your mental awareness. Just like the sensory adaptation that occurs when using a fan, a constant white noise can help sedate or calm the auditory system. The noise will act like a jamming system and not allow your ears to focus on unnecessary sounds. Studies have shown that a pedestal fan is more optimal than a ceiling fan for this purpose. Various sizes and speeds should be tried to provide optimal sleep success.
Lights On, Lights Off. It is often a personal preference whether to have lights on or off when you go to bed. For some people, the faint, barely detectable flicker of an incandescent light is important; just like the fan and the white noise, the eyes are very susceptible to sensory adaptation and will give up if "overstimulated" by the right type of lighting, night light, bathroom fluorescent light, candles, campfire, television, etc. It is sort of a visual "lullaby" to your mind.
No Liquids Before Bed. Waking up to go the bathroom is a touchy situation. After all, if you have to go, you have to go. But if you can't drink enough water during the day, squeezing it in before bed is a costly mistake. It is more damaging to wake up two or three times during the night to urinate than to not drink enough water that day. Not having to wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night increases your chances of experiencing sound, uninterrupted sleep.
Dial It Down. It is important to avoid taking stimulants of any kind prior to going to bed. Drinking coffee, caffeinated tea and soda drinks will all prevent a normal sleep cycle from occurring (or even starting, in some cases). And some people will even use a commercial stimulant known as a "diet pill" to enhance their fat loss capability. Well, guess what? A poor night's sleep will reduce your body's natural production of human growth hormone, which will hinder your ability to lose fat.