What Are The 5  Keys to Optimum Health? Let’s Talk Rest.

What Are The 5  Keys to Optimum Health?
1. Exercise
2. Good Nutrition
3. Rest
4. Stress Management
5. Proper Nerve Supply with Chiropractic Care.

Let’s Talk Rest.

Sleep supports our mood, our sense of well being, and our immune system. How we sleep matters and getting enough sleep helps keep us in optimal health.
Siesta may not be part of the American culture, but we should still take 10-15 minutes to rest in the middle of each day. This break will help relax our muscles, calm our nervous system and reduce the risks of chronic inflammation.  In addition to taking that midday break the chart below shows how much sleep each age group needs every night to give our bodies a chance to rest, repair and restore.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Age Recommended Amount of Sleep
Newborns 16–18 hours a day
Preschool-aged children 11–12 hours a day
School-aged children At least 10 hours a day
Teens 9–10 hours a day
Adults (including the elderly) 7–8 hours a day

Our bodies are amazing machines that if allowed can heal and self-regulate.
Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of our heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

Sleep deficiency also increases the risk of obesity. For example, one study of teenagers showed that with each hour of sleep lost, the odds of becoming obese went up. Sleep deficiency increases the risk of obesity in other age groups as well.

Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.

Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.

Sleep supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility.

Our immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends our body against foreign or harmful substances. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which our immune system responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

The position we sleep in is very important.  Sleeping on our back is a great way to hold our adjustments as long as we are not propping our head up on too many pillows.  Also for those who have snoring issues this position usually makes snoring much worse.
Side sleeping is also favorable for our spines as long as we are mindful of the position of our necks.  When we lay our head on our pillow our spines should follow a straight line from the base of our head all the way down to our tail bones.  Having your head too high or too low can cause neck strain.  Some find a pillow between their knees helps with low back pain while sleeping. Left side sleeping is encouraged during pregnancy because it improves circulation to the heart which benefits both mom and baby.  Side sleeping is also a pregnancy winner because sleeping on the back puts pressure on the lower back and stomach-sleeping is impossible for obvious reasons.  For those not expecting, sleeping on the left side can also ease heartburn and acid reflux.
The worse position is sleeping on our stomachs.
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If we use a pillow of any depth it causes our cervical spine to be in an unnatural curve while we sleep.  Also having our heads turned to either side for 7-8 hours while we sleep is just asking for a stiff neck when we wake up.
So we have covered why quality rest and your position during rest is so important.  Here are a few tips to help you get that much needed rest and improve your sleep habits.

  • Train your body to sleep on your side by using extra pillows behind and in front to keep you from rolling over on your back and especially your stomach.
  • Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep–wake rhythm.
  • Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
  • Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.
  • Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
  • Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don’t use the child’s bedroom for timeouts or punishment.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).
  • Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed such as chamomile tea or lavender oil.

Next month we will talk about the 4th key to Optimum Health; The importance of stress management.

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