by Caroline von Fluegge-Chen
Taking time for rest and rejuvenation is an essential part of a balanced lifestyle. It helps keep us healthy, whole and focused on what is important in our lives.
With our full and busy lives, many of us push ourselves until illness forces us to slow down. Some of us lead such hectic lives that it is not until we begin to relax that our body’s ability to “clean house” recovers enough to function effectively. This leads to a person who experiences headaches, runny noses, coughs or other symptoms whenever they begin to unwind. Unfortunately, instead of seeing this as a sign of the need for more rest, these people often push themselves harder, to the detriment of their health and well-being.
Chiropractic care frequently helps people to rest more effectively and helps your body function more efficiently. Subluxations cause interference to your nervous system. This is associated with altered messages to and from your brain which can disrupt those areas that regulate sleeping and decreases your ability to coordinate the function of every organ, cell and tissue in your body. People with sleeping disorders often report improvement while receiving Chiropractic care.
In response to spinal subluxations, many muscles surrounding the spine contract. By correcting subluxations and restoring spinal motion, Doctors of Chiropractic relieve stress in your body and enable effective relaxation to occur. Following adjustments, many people experience increased clarity of thought, calmness and ability to relax.
The art of breathing is often taken for granted and done in a fashion that is less than effective for maximum health. Typically air is drawn in through the mouth into the upper part of the chest (a quick observation of those around you will show how prevalent this is). This is the most inefficient region for oxygen exchange and requires many muscles to operate. It is meant to be used only in times of stress when extra oxygen is needed as part of the “fight or flight” response. Breathing into this part of the lungs stimulates this response, increasing feelings of anxiety and tension.
The most efficient way to breathe is through your nose (which warms, moistens, and filters the air) into the bottom part of your lungs using your diaphragm- the muscle at the base of your lungs. When you are doing this correctly your abdomen will feel tight and more outwards as you breathe in, and the opposite as you breathe out.
Encouraging your children to breathe this way can have a dramatic effect on their future well-being.
As with all creatures, humans appear to have typical sleeping and waking patterns. When removed from artificial stimulation (eg. camping without television, radios, etc.), people tend to wake at dawn and fall asleep when they first become tired after sunset. Sleeping in alignment with these tendencies can enhance the quality of your rest and helps many people who have sleeping difficulties.
Try the following for one week and see if it works for you:
Set your alarm to ring at or just before sunrise (before 6 am).
Get up immediately and go for a walk or do some light exercise for 30 minutes.
Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day.
Eat a light meal early in the evening, preferably a salad or something as easily digestible.
Go to bed as close to sunset as possible. You may find reading will help you to become drowsy (being careful not to place undue stress upon your spine).
A few hours after sunset you may begin to get your second wind and getting to sleep can become more difficult.
Caring for your spine while sleeping.
Avoid sleeping on your abdomen. To do so requires a large amount of twisting of your spine as your head remains rotated to one side, which may result in a decrease in your normal spinal curves. Breaking the habit of sleeping on your stomach can be challenging. To help initially, on the side to which your head is turned bend your arm and place it out to the side, do the same with your leg to assume a position like “climbing a ladder.” This will rotate your shoulders slightly and remove some of the stress from your neck. Many people find placing a pillow under their elevated shoulder and chest helps.
Only use one pillow to support your head. A “contour pillow” may be beneficial in some cases to help restore your normal neck (cervical) position.
Choosing a bed
Select a firmer mattress rather than one that is too soft. When lying on one side your waist should be supported so that your spine appears straight when viewed from behind.
Avoid eating or drinking “stimulants” prior to bedtime, such as spicy foods, tea, coffee or other caffeine-containing drinks, etc.
Eating your largest meal in the middle of the day gives you time to digest it before bedtime.
The energy saved on digestion can be used by the body to “clean house” while you sleep. This will help rejuvenate you!