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Protecting Your Sleep

If you are just joining us, we are working through Paleo Magazine's special edition of "Go Paleo: The Step-By-Step Guide" to look at how our pre-industrial ancestors lived. Part of the reason the Paleo movement has taken off is because a lot of the diseases we deal with today, like cancer, heart disease, autoimmune issues, etc., were not nearly as prevalent. The argument could be made that people were just dying of something else instead, like war and pestilence! While that was true, I am sure, some of the issues we face today that our ancestors didn't is likely lifestyle based.

Last week, we talked about how important sleep is for health, as well as for preventing sickness. This week, we are going to look into some of the things that can rob you of sleep. It might help if you start to think of your bedroom (and sleep) as your castle. In order to get a good night's sleep, you are going to have to be diligent about protecting it.

Here are the five things we are going to look at:

  1. Screen Time
  2. Exercise
  3. Temperature
  4. Light Levels
  5. Mental Factors and Stress

Screen Time

Screen time refers to really any "back-lit" device: computer, phone, tablet, reader and television. I first came across the concept of back-lit screens interrupting sleep when looking for papers on the topic of ADHD. There is a really nice little article in Psychology Today by Victoria Dunckley entitled "Electronic Screen Syndrome: An Unrecognized Disorder? In it, Dr. Dunckley relates how interacting with screens shifts the nervous system into the fight or flight mode, which, in effect, amps up our brains. She relates this phenomena primarily to kids with ADHD; however, I have found that most of the things that can set off a child with ADHD tends to impact all of us to some degree - back-lit screens are no exception. The current recommendation is to put away the screens, at least two hours before bed! For some of you, that may be no problem; for others, it may take some major effort! This problem isn't going away - starting to deal with it now is in order.

Exercise

First, the good news about exercise and sleep: the National Sleep Foundation reported on a study that showed that those who get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week had a 65% improvement in sleep quality (that is about 25 minutes a day of exercise)!

Those of you that know me personally might find it hard to believe that I would tell you NOT to exercise. This may be one of those cases where you might want to rethink when (not if!) you workout. Exercise does several things that can impact sleep: it increases your body temperature and can stimulate your brain. These two factors may impact your ability to get to sleep, especially the closer you exercise to your bedtime. Again, the National Sleep Foundation notes that not everyone is affected the same, but if you have trouble falling asleep, you may want to move your workouts earlier in the day. The two hours before bedtime rule applies here for many people.

Temperature

The temperature you keep your bedroom at night might be keeping you awake, or waking you up after you have been asleep for awhile. I reviewed several articles for this section and, while not an exact science, thermoregulation impacts sleep in two primary ways:

  1. A cooler temperature helps to induce sleep.
  2. Temperatures top low or high can impact REM sleep. REM sleep is that portion of sleep where you have dreams and a lot of eye movement (Rapid Eye Movement). It is thought that REM sleep helps clean out bad chemical by-products from your brain, and that it is responsible for waking refreshed and ready to face the day.

I found ideal temperature ranges to be between 60-70 degrees; however, it did vary with the person. Too warm seemed to be more of an interrupt than too cool.

Light Levels

Okay, I will be honest: when I first read this one, I thought to myself: "Who doesn't get this?" But as I progressed through the article in Paleo Magazine, it started to make more sense. We tend to think of light as big sources: sunlight, a street light, an overhead light, etc. But really, any light can interrupt sleep: night lights, back-lit alarm clocks, cell phones, window shades that leak in the neighbor's porch light, etc.

Last week, we discussed circadian rhythm - that natural pattern of sleep and wake cycles that all life seems to follow. Artificial light can interrupt that! Remember that circadian rhythm plays a role in hormone production, cellular regulation and brain wave patterns. Start messing with that and you can have more than a poor night's sleep. A disrupted circadian rhythm has been linked to depression, obesity, cancer and heart disease. You can read a nifty little summary article from sleep.org here. The Paleo Guide sums it up: "Avoid any type of light at night, if possible. If your situation doesn't allow you to avoid all light, wear a sleep mask."

Mental Factors and Stress

For me, personally, this one probably impacts my sleep more than any of the others and I am guessing I am not alone. It gets pretty hard to turn stuff off during the day and, at night, when there is a lot less to distract me, my stress and brain can take center stage! There is a really nice article on Stress and Insomnia by the National Sleep Foundation on their website. It basically says: yes, stress does impact sleep, but dealing with it effectively starts before you get to bed!

In the article the author outlines three steps:

  1. Set your sleep time for the total hours of sleep you are currently getting, not what you would like to get.
  2. Spend some time winding down before bed.
  3. Set up your bedroom to be a place of comfort and peace .

I know these seem like generalities, and they are to some extent; however, the article goes into greater detail. In addition, next week's newsletter is going to go into greater detail on strategies to maximize your sleep!

One final caveat before we leave the topic of "Mental Factors and Stress," which is something I do personally. If I am lying awake at night, I ask God if there is anything that He wants to talk about with me and, then after that is addressed, I try to ask Him if there is someone I can be praying for. That seems to help me get my focus to a little different location and help me sleep!

Good Sleep is Coming!

Today, we looked at five different factors that can impact sleep: Screen Time, Exercise, Temperature, Light Levels and Mental Factors and Stress. Each one of these has the potential of interrupting sleep. I am sure you already see some things that might be affecting yours! Take heart! Next week, we are going to be going over some practical strategies on how to improve these and get you to sleeping like a baby!

Yours in Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
August 14, 2017
Category: Uncategorized

A week ago, last Saturday, I was pondering the above statement... a lot! My oldest son (Josh) and I had just started a half marathon. This wasn't new for us;  it is something we have done on a number of occasions over the years, but this one was different, namely because it started around 9500 feet above sea level!

Dr. Sue and I had traveled to Denver and were staying near Breckenridge, CO with our family. When I signed up for the race several months ago, in Lafayette at 692 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good idea. At the start, I wasn't so sure. The fact that it began uphill led to my mantra: "Don't Forget to Breathe!"

Later that weekend, I sat in my Dad's living room and visited with my brothers (Jeff, Matt and Ben) and their families, and my sons (Josh and Caleb), and Caleb's girlfriend Claire. Josh now lives in Colorado, Caleb and Claire live in Atlanta, and my dad and brothers/families live in Denver. I love them all so much and miss them a lot - I couldn't believe I had them all in one place. Again, I had to remind myself to breathe.

We got back home last Tuesday afternoon and, on Wednesday I got up to use my foam roller and stretch out. The race, the travel, the overeating, the good and bad aspects of being with family had left me tight and tense. Once more I had to remind myself: "Don't Forget to Breathe!"

Life is full of a lot of moments that take our breath away, some of them enjoyable and some of them overwhelming. It is important to take the time to draw the moment into our lives and to let it back out again. I think God gave us the rhythmic aspect of breath to remind us that nothing lasts forever, and that it is important to appreciate and embrace each moment we are given.

I hope you have a great week, and remember: "Don't Forget to Breathe!"

Yours in Health,

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
January 11, 2017
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

Welcome to 2017!  I hope you all had a great Holiday Season! We are committed to bringing you a lot of useful and easy to implement information over the next twelve months to make this  your best year yet. This week’s blog is going to be short and sweet, and get us started out on the right foot.  We are going to cover two things:

  • Our New User-Friendly Blog Site and Email Address
  • Recap and Road Map of the Current Series on Frailty

New User Friendly Blog Site and Email Address

We are excited to begin using our new blog site! In March of 2016, we launched a weekly email/blog campaign to our clients and their families. We did this to provide educational material about chiropractic and whole body health that was difficult to convey in a short office visit. Topics ranged from Alzhiemer’s to zinc deficiencies, and everything in between.

Initially, emails were mailed to you from [email protected]. These will now be coming to your inbox from [email protected] – make sure you don’t miss them!

*If you haven’t been receiving our emails, check your spam folder! Add our email address your contact list so you can keep up to date with our newsletters.

Our new email is linked to the stand alone blog site: www.dougwilliamsdc.com. Originally, after you received your weekly email, the content was published on our office website under the blog, but you had to poke around to find it. In addition, searching the posts was cumbersome. When you go to the new site, you land directly on the blog. In addition, if you send a loved one there for an article, they can sign up directly for the weekly email. It is an easier format to search for topics that we may have covered in the past. Finally, we are working on grouping similar topics together to create FREE E-BOOKS! Keep your eyes out for that in the near future!

As much as I would like to take credit for pulling all of this technical stuff together, I can’t! It is about all I can do to get the content down. The continued forward progress of our communication efforts can directly be attributed to Emily Duke! Emily worked in our office for several years until last May, when she and her husband Tommy (and their yet-to-be born son) moved to Texas. Well, the three of them (yes, the baby finally came last summer) have settled into a comfortable family life, but through the magic of the internet, Emily continues to help me get this material out on a regular basis. Thanks Emily!

Frailty: The Building Blocks of Life

The current series we have been on is exploring the concept of Frailty. From a research perspective, Frailty looks at how a number of different systems in our bodies are connected. More specifically, if one system starts to decline, you can often times manage. But when a number of systems begin to decline together, even though no single one severely, the whole system crashes!

That last point is really the intersection of life and death. Most of us aren’t surprised when someone dies in a car accident or from cancer. But how many times have you heard someone say “They seemed so healthy” after hearing of another’s passing?

People don’t live forever here on earth. The Reaper catches us all. But how we live, and ultimately how we die, can be influenced by the things we do in life. Follow a healthy lifestyle, live longer and potentially less painfully all the way to the end.

The study of Frailty helps explore the different building blocks of health:

  • Inflammatory
  • Endocrine (Hormonal)

  • Skeletal

  • Neurological

The hope is that the better you understand how these systems work together in health, and fail to work together in disease, you can implement strategies to maintain and heal them over the course of a lifetime!

So far, we have covered Inflammatory and Endocrine. You can check out the previous posts on these topics here.

Over the next two weeks, we will get into the parts that chiropractors absolutely love: Skeletal and Neurological!

At the outset, I indicated to our readers that this was some pretty deep and involved material, but that if you process it and integrate it into your life, you won’t be sorry!

Happy New Year to You and Your Loved Ones!

Doug Williams, D.C.
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana

By Dr. Doug Williams
December 19, 2016
Category: Uncategorized
Tags: Untagged

As we come to the close of 2016, I have one more post on Frailty (don't worry, I still have several more additions to the series in 2017!). The last one for this year has nothing to do with physical frailty. No, it is more important than that. I believe our bodies are a gift from God and that we are supposed to take care of them the best we can. However, in the end, we all "go the way of the earth." During this Christmas Season, may we be reminded that God didn't create us to live here forever, He created us to be with Him forever! It is for that reason, 2000 years ago, He sent His light into the world: Jesus. He did it just to say He loves us and wants us to be with Him always. I, for one, am very glad He did!

I leave you this year with one of my favorite songs - it is by an old Christian Rocker named Randy Stonehill and is called "Light Of The World". I hope you enjoy it, and that you and your family have a blessed Christmas Season!

Yours in Health,

Doug and Sue Williams
Care Chiropractic
Lafayette, Indiana