While you may not think much about the way that you sleep when it comes down to getting some rest, it may be worth giving some thought as to the position you adopt that you comfortably sleep in – as research and discussion has found that some sleeping positions are considerably healthier or more beneficial for your body long-term than you may think! For example, sleeping on your front may be considered harmful to both your back and your organs – whereas other arrangements are more likely to support you comfortably and naturally. While the best position for you will naturally be whichever arrangement you find the most comfortable long term, if you are concerned about preserving your joints and muscles as much as you can, it may be time to start considering what a healthier alternative could be to your default sleeping position. While it is likely that you may fall into one of the below positions naturally, it makes for some interesting reading from any perspective!
Left or right, up or down, diagonally – no matter how you sleep on your side, if this is natural for you, you fall into one of the more common groups of sleepers worldwide. While this is a fairly well-practiced position, there are schools of thought out on whether or not it is the healthiest – but as research stands, it is ideal for people such as pregnant women who need to keep weight off of their back and neck as much as possible during the night. It is also said to help aid digestive problems such as acid reflux and heartburn, making it a viable option if you are likely to suffer from late-night aggravation to your oesophagus. Side sleeping can also be referred to as ‘foetal’, as it can mimic how babies appear in the womb. Many people who sleep on their sides find doing so preferential to sleeping on their backs for comfort reasons, and for matters relating to sleep apnea or other conditions that could make it painful or aggravating.
Back sleeping, providing that it is healthy for you to do so personally, is widely regarded as one of the most natural ways to sleep – after all, you are laid wide open without scrunching your body up or putting any pressure on your bones or organs. Sleeping your back really makes sure that you get the most out of your mattress, too – it’s built to support your back and neck as opposed to your side or front, and therefore you can always be assured of a safe, comfortable and refreshing night’s sleep. Sleeping on your back feels natural to many people, and while it may not be physically possible for some to adopt the position – such as pregnant women – it is advisable that you consult a chiropractor or general practitioner if you feel you may be taking a risk by sleeping in such a manner long term. The chances are, unless you suffer from conditions that prevent you from doing so, you will likely find it comforting in the long term.
The best sleeping position for you depends entirely upon what you find comfortable and convenient – and in the first event of making considered changes to your sleeping position or arrangement, there is always the option to consult an experienced chiropractor to make sure that you are physically ready to take on such a change! For a friendly and experienced chiropractor that can talk through the merits of sleeping positions with you in further detail, call The Didcot Chiropractic Clinic today on 01235 510097 or email via our web form – and we will be happy to arrange a consultation with you at your convenience!
As a chiropractor I encounter various preconceptions about what we do. These range from “putting bones back in place” to “fixing people’s backs”. These perceptions exist because of the inevitably different ways chiropractors communicate what they do and because our understanding shifts as we make more scientific progress. The latest research conducted by Heidi Haavik, in New Zealand, over the last 15 years has given us new insight into exactly what chiropractic does…and much of this may come as a surprise. Her research suggests that chiropractic improves brain function. This happens in a variety of ways:
Our brain has an internal map of where our body is in time and space. Imagine all the different muscles of the spine feeding back information to the brain. When we have a healthy spine the muscles attached to the vertebrae send information to the brain as they stretch when we move. This tells the brain the precise location of each vertebra. If any of these parts of the spine stop moving then the muscles stop telling the brain what’s going on. When the brain loses this information it goes back to the moment when it last received input and assumes that this is where the vertebra still is.
This typifies the brain’s immense capacity for adaptation which is commonly referred to as plasticity. In this case it may not be such a good thing. When the brain gradually loses its accurate picture of what is going on in the body there is a greater likelihood that our body will express symptoms. In other words our brain can learn to function poorly (what we call maladaptive plastic changes), just as it can help us to learn how to ride a bike. It is not just pain that we may experience – these maladaptive changes may result in poor co-ordination (e.g. we may bump into objects more often, or our performance may drop off in sport and exercise).
What a chiropractic adjustment does is improve the communication pathways between our brain and our body. It ‘resets’ or breaks the cycle of negative messages coming from our body.
When we lose range of motion in our joints it typically happens gradually so initially we don’t notice it. We may only become aware for example when we can no longer turn our head to look over our shoulder when we are driving or we simply put it down to getting older.
A chiropractic adjustment can help restore normal motion to areas of our spine that are no longer functioning at their optimal level.
Most patients visit us when they are in pain; it’s a great motivator for us to seek change. Pain is a late showing in any form of poor health. We may think that our back pain was caused when we bent over to pick up the shopping but common sense would make us wonder why it happened on this specific occasion and not another. The reason is that we have gradual maladaptive plastic changes in our brain over time as a consequence of our poor lifestyle choices. Thus when we lift our shopping this may simply be the final straw that “breaks the camel’s back”.
Research has shown that when we are in pain (especially if it has become chronic) then the body’s capacity to protect itself is reduced. So if we have chronic low back pain, for example, we may have ongoing inhibition of our core tummy muscles which means we are more likely to injure our low back.
Chiropractic reduces the maladaptive plastic changes that have built up and reduces our pain. Many of our patients enjoy maintenance care because it reduces the build up of poor function caused by poor lifestyle.
Many elite athletes these days use chiropractors because they appreciate that any improvement in function can give them the edge over their competitors.
Our brain creates our own “inner reality” through the senses of sight, hearing, touch, proprioception (sense of body position) and smell. This input is blended together by the brain to create a picture of what is happening in our body and the environment (multisensory integration). The more smoothly this integration occurs the better our body works.
For more information on Heidi Haavik’s research see http://heidihaavik.com/.
Approximately 70% of our body is made up of water, and yet how many of us ensure we are properly hydrated. By the time we become thirsty we have already lost over 1% of our body’s total water. An average adult male should consume about 3 litres (about 13 cups) per day; whilst the average female should drink 2.2 litres (roughly 9 cups). Here’s 8 reasons why we should all be drinking plenty of water!