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Sleeping on Your Stomach

This is the one habit that is the most harmful to the health and function of our spine and our nervous system.  When the head is turned to the side and then the weight of the body is placed upon it…the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, discs, nerves, etc. are compressed.  The application of this stress of stomach sleeping will lead to an acceleration of degeneration of the discs and joints.  Some of the worst degenerative disc disease that I have seen in the spine is in those that have spent their life sleeping on their belly.  We spend a third of our lives sleeping!
 
So if you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach…how should you sleep?  Flat on your back is best.  Some people will find that placing a pillow underneath the knees will be more comfortable.  You should always sleep with only one pillow under your head though so the neck is in a relaxed position.  If you are unable to sleep on your back then the next best option is on your side.  When you are sleeping on your side, you want to make sure that your head and neck are in as an aligned position as possible.  You should only use one pillow that is thick enough to support between your shoulder and your head.  Most people have a pillow that is too thin to sleep on your side…so there head is side bent all night.  The most vulnerable position for the neck to be in is side bent or extended.
 
 
Popping or Cracking Your Neck
 
This habit, which can feel good at the time will lead to hypermobility in the joints and more and more instability over time as this habit has a tendency to make you want to do it more and more.  This is a sign that your spine is probably extremely misaligned and should be evaluated asap.
 
 
 Laying on the Couch with Your Head Propped up on the Arm
 
Here is that vulnerable position again.  A side bent head is much more likely to cause a misalignment, especially when kept in this position for 30, 60 minutes or longer why you watch TV.
 
 
Sedentary Jobs/Lifestyle
 
The longer you sit the more your posture begins to breakdown.  If you are sitting for a few minutes it is much easier to keep a good posture.  When you sit for hours the chances that your posture is breaking down is very high.  So tip #1 is to sit as little as possible.  If you can stand to do a task then do it.  A least once per hour you want to get out of your chair and walk around and change the posture that you are in…something that helps you to remember to do this is to drink lots of water…which is tip #2.  Drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day…preferrably more.  A good rule of thumb is to only drink water and drink about 1/2 of your body weight in ounces per day.  So if you weigh 150 pounds then you should drink 75 ounces of water per day.  The more you weigh the more you need to drink to be healthy.  So if you are drinking water all day then you will need to get up and go to the bathroom which will greatly benefit your spine as well…it’s a win-win.  The third tip is to change positions as much as possible when you are sitting.  Change the angle of your chair, the height of your chair, move things around throughout the day.  Your body gets bored sitting in the same position all the time!
 
 
Never Ever Exercising
 
The less we exercise the more the joints of the spine begin to stiffen and deteriorate.  So move around!  Our bodies were made to move!  The best exercise is the one that you will do consistently.  Fast walking, swimming, elliptical etc.  Pick a cardiovascular exercise and get going.
 

Dr. William R. Davis Jr., D.C. is a Vista Chiropractor and Upper Cervical Specialist. He is in private practice in Southern California in the city of Vista. He specializes in correcting problems in the upper cervical spine (upper neck). This vital area is intimately connected to the central nervous system and problems in this area have been shown to be an underlying cause of a variety of different health problems. More information can be found on his website at http://www.nuccawellness.com

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Hind- and mid-brains; postero-lateral view. (L...

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Dr. Davis here from Vista California

How does a Brain Stem Subluxation (a problem in the upper neck) cause you to not be able to sleep?  Are you a person who has a hard time falling asleep?  Staying asleep?  Or you just can’t turn your brain off?  Maybe you do sleep but you wake up in the morning just as tired as you were when you went to bed?  Even when you get enough sleep?

It has been known for some 40 years that waking and consciousness depend upon nerve cells within an area of the brainstem called the reticular formation. The Brain stem is a part of the brain that dips down into the top part of you neck (upper cervical spine).  These nerve cells activate portions of your brain that produce wakefulness and in turn sleep.

Magoun states that the central reticular formation of the brain stem exerts ascending (up to the brain) and descending (down from the brain) influences upon the cerebral cortex and upon the motor outflows from the spinal cord.  Tractionization of the brain stem by a misalignment in the upper neck causes a disruption in the function of the reticular formation of the brain stem resulting in a variety of postural changes verified by the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research Foundation. 

So when a person has accidents and injuries that tear loose the connective tissue that hold the spine in place it will create a weakness and allow the spine to begin to breakdown and lock into a stressed position.  And this is a progressive condition…so the longer the spine is left in that state the worse it gets.  This tractionization on the brain stem is the underlying cause of the sleep problems in so many of our patients.  A Simple postural and neurological evaluation by an upper cervical specific chiropractor will tell you whether or not you have this common condition.

Who do you know that isn’t sleeping?  We spend a third of our lives in bed…how important is it to our work, family, and personal lives that our sleep is good and restful?

If your life is not what it should be because of sleeping problems, then you should be evaluated by an Upper Cervical Specialist as soon as possible. 

Get your head on straight and get back to sleeping the way that you should.

Find out more info at www.nuccawellness.com for those in Southern California.

Anywhere else in the country go to www.nucca.org or www.upcspine.org

 

 

God Bless and Be Well,

Dr. Bill Davis

Upper Cervical Specialist

Breath of Life Chiropractic

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

         

References:

1. Magoun, H.W. (1968) Brain stem, Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. 4.

2. http://www.sleephomepages.org/sleepsyllabus/e.html

 

 

 

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Dr. Davis here from Vista CA…

Do you regularly sleep on your stomach?  This is the one habit that is the most harmful to the health and function of our spine and our nervous system.  When the head is turned to the side and then the weight of the body is placed upon it…the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, discs, nerves, etc. are compressed.  The application of this stress of stomach sleeping will lead to an acceleration of degeneration of the discs and joints.  Some of the worst degenerative disc disease that I have seen in the spine is in those that have spent their life sleeping on their belly.  We spend a third of our lives sleeping!

So if you shouldn’t sleep on your stomach…how should you sleep?  Flat on your back is best.  Some people will find that placing a pillow underneath the knees will be more comfortable.  You should always sleep with only one pillow under your head though so the neck is in a relaxed position.  If you are unable to sleep on your back then the next best option is on your side.  When you are sleeping on your side, you want to make sure that your head and neck are in as an aligned position as possible.  You should only use one pillow that is thick enough to support between your shoulder and your head.  Most people have a pillow that is too thin to sleep on your side…so there head is side bent all night.  The most vulnerable position for the neck to be in is side bent or extended. 

If you are thinking of making a change to your pillow, the best pillows that I have found are available at the select comfort stores in most malls or online at  http://www.selectcomfort.com/.  The make a customized design pillow that is unique to the person.  They will measure you, find out if you have a firm or soft mattress, find out what type of materials you want to put in the pillow, and design a pillow for you to sleep on your side or your back.  The pillows run around $125 or so and are very worth it.  

To break the habit of stomach sleeping sometimes you have to get creative.  I have had patients sew a tennis ball that they had cut in half to a t-shirt and wear that when they slept!  But most people don’t have to go to that extreme…just understanding the importance of spinal alignment and knowing that stomach sleeping will destroy the spine is enough.

To find out more about problems associated with stomach sleeping go to www.nuccawellness.com

God Bless and Be Well,

Dr. Bill Davis

Upper Cervical Specialist

Breath of Life Chiropractic

760-945-1345

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