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Posted on 08-05-2010

Tips to Help You Sleep Soundly

It's important to understand that sleeping is as individual an event as exercising, eating right or deciding what to wear every day. Our society makes you think that if you have any old mattress and a pillow, and time to sleep, everything will take care of itself. Not true. Here are a few suggestions on how to make your sleep more individualized and restful.

Your Mattress: Most people buy a new mattress when their old one "wears out," meaning it's tattered, torn, excessively stained and/or otherwise unappealing to sleep on. Generally, it is not a good idea to keep a mattress longer than 10-15 years due to the wear and tear you put it through. Depending on the quality, it may last longer or shorter. Going to a store and lying on a mattress for a few minutes is not enough time to make a decision on something you will have to lie on for years to come. You need to test it out in a real sleep environment to make sure you can experience deep, rejuvenating sleep for years. After all, why pay good money to end up tossing and turning every night?

Sleep Position: OK, so you've picked out your "perfect" mattress; now how do you sleep on it? From a health perspective, the best position for sleep is on your back with a pillow under your knees. The pillow should be comfortable for you and help take pressure off the small of your back. The second-best position is on your side with a pillow between your knees. The pillow between the knees must be thick enough to keep your thighs hip-width apart. On your side also means you need a supportive pillow.

The most undesirable position for sleeping is on your stomach. This is because you need to turn your head to either side in order to breathe and this can cause neck pain

Your Pillow: Think about how you like to sleep before you choose your pillow. People who sleep on their back need a thinner pillow than those who sleep on their side. There are so many pillows to choose from, but the best advice to you is to take your current pillow to your chiropractor and let them analyze it for you.

Remember, poor sleep, particularly if it becomes chronic, could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, so talk to your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping so they can help determine what's causing it and then do something about it! After all, you deserve a good night's sleep, and you deserve it every night, not just occasionally.

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Top Health and Fitness Myths

The first truth, albeit a regrettable one, when it comes to health and fitness is that if there is a dollar to be made, someone will step up to the plate and act as if they are an expert. That's why we're inundated with infomercials touting weight-loss products, fitness equipment and other products "guaranteed" to fulfill our health and fitness needs. But are the claims supported by fact? Let's take a look at some of the more common health and fitness myths:

The Longer You Exercise, the Better Your Results. Many people think that the longer they exercise, the more weight they will lose. The reality is that in most cases, the more you exercise, the more you stimulate your body to burn fat. That's good, but it also increases production of a hormone called cortisol, which often causes your body to store more fat as fuel for the next time you work out. The key to optimizing weight loss is to exercise for approximately 45 minutes per session. If you want to exercise more during a day, that's OK, but divide up your workouts so you only work out for 45 minutes at a time.

Eat Less Food = Lose More Weight. While in general this is true over time, many people think that if they essentially quit eating (eat only a few meals a day, or eat very little) they will lose weight. The body senses the lack of food, digestion slows down and the body holds on to fat. To lose weight effectively, don't stop eating; eat smaller meals more often to optimize your metabolism. That way, your body will burn more fat instead of storing it; in fact, it will burn fat even when you're not exercising!

Exercising on an Empty Stomach Helps You Lose Weight. When to eat and what to eat around your workout is simple. If you are trying to lose weight, eat more carbohydrates and fats when you can burn them. Your meals should have more protein if you are not working out for a while. Your ratio of protein to carbs to fat should be about 40 percent to 55 percent to 5 percent two hours before and two hours after a workout; for other times, the ratio should switch to 55 percent protein, 40 percent carbs and 5 percent fat. It is also best to avoiding eating 4-5 hours before you go to bed.

When it comes to health and fitness, stick to the basics, use common sense, and keep it fun and simple. That's the most important advice I can give you. Too many people think it is too complicated to exercise or eat right. It's not unless you make it complicated. Eat a balanced diet, work up a good sweat when you exercise, and you'll do just fine. And remember, discuss your health and fitness goals with your doctor; they can help design the fitness program that's right for you - and help dispel more of the myths of health and fitness.

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Is Your Hospital Causing Infections?

Birth is probably one of the few events that makes a hospital visit enjoyable, at least after the baby is born. With that said, if you conducted a survey, you'd likely discover that the majority considers a hospital one of the most reassuring places to go when there's something wrong; after all, surrounded by doctors, nurses and all types of equipment, is there any better place to be if your health is in question?

Not so fast. According to a recent study, thousands die each year from preventable - yes, preventable - hospital infections. By "hospital infections," we mean you acquired the infection while in the hospital; it wasn't your reason for going there in the first place, and it wasn't an inevitable consequence of your condition. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine earlier this year, suggests 48,000 Americans (a conservative estimate, according to the study authors) die annually from hospital-acquired infections, most of which are attributable to the use of ventilators and catheters.

If you think there's nothing that can be done, consider that according to Dr. Peter Pronovost, a researcher at Johns Hopkins, these infections can be all but eliminated with simple hygiene measures and a hospital-wide team approach. One can only hope hospitals nationwide are doing everything in their power to make sure 48,000 deaths become zero deaths as soon as possible.

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