How to get the BEST sleep of your life with 5 tips and less than $250.
We all love it. We all NEED it. And we ALL need MORE of it!
Assessing your sleep is one of the most under-utilized strategies when dealing with chronic pains or chronic conditions. Whether its chronic headaches, neck or back pain, fatigue, or even optimal performance, EVERY earthling WILL benefit from enhancing and optimizing their sleep. Implement these 5 easy hacks for optimal sleeping and get to sleepin'!
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is your body's time to RECOVER and REPAIR.
If you push yourself, emotionally, mentally, and physically, your body in its entirety (nervous system, nerves, muscles, organs, skin, and brain) NEEDS sleep, and deep sleep at that, to recover and prepare for the next day of shenanigans. Research has shown that sleep is a requirement for just about optimal EVERYTHING. Hormonal output (think moodiness, as well as overall bodily function), mental fitness, memory solidification, nerve and muscle repair, and even maintaining a youthful appearance (think skin and collagen)! Who wouldn't want to look a little younger?
With our current healthcare crisis, quality sleep is more important now than ever. Quality sleep repairs and optimizes your body, specifically your Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS can help regulate and enhance your body’s ability to be resilient with regards to invaders, both bacterial and viral alike.
Ok, so. How can you get the best sleep of your life?
1. Black out your room & keep it cool
Research has shown that even a little bit of light can throw off your sleep-wake cycle (melatonin), so we want to limit the light in the room, both from objects IN the room, and from windows or doors leading OUT of the room. I'd recommend black out curtains and/or an eye mask.
Research has also shown that a cooler room temperature (68 degrees) allows you to sleep deeper and more comfortable.
2. Magnesium Supplementation
On a chemical level, magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for getting you calm and relaxed, by regulating neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are how the brain and nervous system communicate, with GABA receptors being one of the important neurotransmitters running around out there. Magnesium binds to GABA, enhancing the ability to “quite the nervous system.” Lastly, Magnesium also regulates melatonin, which is a key player in the sleep-wake cycle. I personally use NOW Foods Magtein.
3. Mouth Strips
Breathing through your mouth while you sleep can be more harmful than you think. Remember, mouths are for eating, noses are for breathing.
Mouth breathing can alter brain chemistry in terms of hormonal output, as well as tip the balance of CO2-O2. The end result of this can be chronic fatigue, as well as limiting your body's ability to recover. Hop over to Ask The Dentist for great reference page and more information!
Previously, elastic chin straps have been recommended to keep the mouth closed while sleeping, but updated research has found them to actually be largely ineffective. Using mouth strips to keep the mouth closed has been proven to be more effective. A fantastic book on the topic, and one I recommend, is The Oxygen Advantage.
4. Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets have been gaining popularity and for good reason. Research has shown that a weighted blanket, which is pressure stimulation, has decreased whats known as sleep latency, aka the time it takes to fall asleep. There's also been evidence to suggest that use of said blanket can decrease the amount of sleep disturbances throughout the night. So, basically, you can get to sleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night easier. This is a win win! Specific recommendations range, however the general consensus is to get a blanket that's 5-15% of your body weight.
5. Cervical Pillow
I'll make my official stance that the best way to sleep ... is with your eyes closed! Ok, jokes aside, position wise, back sleeping is ideal, with proper neck support for optimal structural positioning, as well as for as little air way obstruction as possible.
Side sleeping is OK, but ONLY with a properly fitted cervical pillow. While there are a bazillion and one pillows out there, the one that has stood the test of time for the majority of folks is the Therapeutica Pillow. It looks a little funny, but this has been hands down the best bang for the buck for pillows. Before you rush out to buy it, you have to be measured or measure yourself for the correct size. I tend to recommend that if you are right at the line between sizes, you go with the smaller size. Side note -- the company makes a travel pillow as well, which has proven useful for our road warriors out there!
Because I know you were going to ask, I'll throw in my recommendation for the most commonly asked question ...
"What bed do you recommend?"
Well, the answer might not be what you're expecting.
I do NOT recommend a fancy, expensive bed. And, let's get real, does anyone else find it a tad crazy that mattress stores and companies are making you finance a bed ?!?! What a time to be alive!
(How I feel about "bed financing")
Anyways, the bed that I recommend to ALL of my patients is the Classic Brands 8 Inch CERTI-Pur. Classic is a subsidiary of Tempur-Pedic ... yes, you read that right. Worse comes to worse, if you don't like it, put it in the guest room!
OK! Use these tips, sleep WELL, function BETTER, and live LIFE!!!
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This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that we might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.