Is there an ideal sleeping position?

Do you spend the whole night looking for it?

Your sleep position and your mattress provide support for the body while asleep. Sleep can be disturbed by any number of things – things we do during the day, things we do before retiring for the night, and things we do while we sleep. Sleeping position can sometimes aggravate our normal aches and pains and rouse us.

A number of functions can be affected by sleep position: stability of the spine, blood flow to the brain, hormone production, oxygen supply, efficient breathing, muscular function and healing, joint and ligament integrity, digestion, cellular metabolism, blood pressure and heart function. During the night, when there is no pressure on the spine, water is drawn into the discs to heal wear and tear.

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Working while you sleep – getting your ducks in a row!

The body and mind are preparing for tomorrow

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. For many animals, sleep represents a time of vulnerability. Some species even developed special defenses against danger from predators while they slept. Dolphins and many species of ducks and birds show “split brain” activity, where one half of the brain sleeps while the other half remains alert for dangers or performs basic movements like swimming or flipper movement to remain afloat.

If sleep is such a dangerous time, then why do we do it?

Research into the purpose of sleep looked first at what happens when sleep is disturbed. Studies have shown correlations between certain sleep disturbances and future health problems. Sleep and dreaming appear to play a role in memory consolidation and learning. Problem-solving may even occur during sleep. Have you ever awakened and found you “magically” have the solution to a problem?

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How much sleep do you need?

the quantity – the quality – and the timing all count!

Sleep used to be viewed as a passive, dormant state – seemingly insignificant. But research begun in the 1950’s changed that. We now better understand that sleep affects our physical and mental health. Sleep is part of the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle driven by light and dark in our environment. The circadian rhythm controls at least 15% of our DNA, including our body’s repair mechanisms. Most hormone production is regulated by sleep. The recently discovered glymphatic system works to eliminate toxins from the brain while we sleep. And sleep is when we solidify learning and establish memories.

When we don’t get enough sleep we are tired during the day, have concentration and memory problems, decreased attention span, and bad moods. Over time, health problems can develop. The immune system may weaken; obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues can develop due to sleep deprivation.

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Making and Breaking Habits

Why is it so hard to break a bad habit?

Habits are easy to form. Just look at everything you do every day on “auto pilot.” Some of our habits are good, healthy ones – others, not so much.

Habits can be formed by sheer repetition of actions. They can also be formed when the brain’s reward center is triggered by the release of dopamine. Actions or events we find enjoyable – including activities like smoking, overeating, gambling and even compulsive use of computers and social media – trigger dopamine release.

Both types of habits can become hard-wired in the brain. That makes them automatic, so we don’t have to consciously think about them.

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Do You Pandiculate?

Use your brain to re-set muscle resting length

Have you ever watched a sleeping dog or cat wake up? What’s the first thing they do? They look like they stretch before even trying to get up. But that’s not really stretching – that’s pandiculating. Just about all mammals (including humans) pandiculate. And note that the animals repeat this motion many times during the day!

Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines pandiculation as “a stretching and stiffening especially of the trunk and extremities (as when fatigued and drowsy or after waking from sleep.” Pandiculating often includes a yawn.

Pandiculating could be better than stretching!

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Spring Cleaning the Feng Shui Way!

Clear your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual clutter

No, this is not a lecture on spring cleaning your house. This is a lecture on spring cleaning your life! We may not consciously be aware of it, but we constantly interact with our surroundings. Everything around us – both seen and unseen – carries energy and affects us.

Karen Kingston defines feng shui (fung shway’) as “the art of balancing and harmonizing the flow of natural energies in our surroundings to create beneficial effects in our lives.” The Chinese characters for feng shui are the characters for “wind” and “water.” Wind and water carry chi (life energy); in ancient times, good wind and good water meant good health and fortune. Like wind and water, energy flows all around us, including throughout our homes and offices.

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Water, water everywhere. How much do you drink?

(with apologies to Coleridge)

Water is H2O – a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. It covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface. It is the basis for all the fluids in the body; every cell and organ needs water. It makes up about 50-65% of the human body, more than 75% of the brain, more than 80% of blood, and 90% of the lungs. Water is essential for life as we know it. A human being can go for 3 to 5 days (depending on a number of factors) without water.

Why do we need water?

Every single one of the thousands of biochemical reactions in the body needs water.

Water helps regulate our body temperature. It cushions and lubricates joints. It protects internal organs and nourishes the brain, spinal cord and other tissues. Water keeps our digestive and elimination systems working smoothly. Without water, skin becomes dry, flaky and prone to developing wrinkles.

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How to balance a bowling ball on a broomstick

You already do this – every day.

Gotcha! You don’t need a “how to” lesson on this, but maybe a refresher course is in order. The adult human head, on average, weighs 10 to 12 pounds. That’s the weight of a bowling ball. And the human spinal column is about the diameter of a broomstick. So all day, every day as you move around, you are balancing a bowling ball on a broomstick!

That means you ask your neck muscles to do a tremendous amount of work, holding your head up and moving it around. You make that job harder by assuming head-forward postures (HFP).

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Can your home or office make you sick?

Building Biology seeks healthy, ecologically sound environments

“Sick building syndrome” is a symptom of poor quality indoor air. Fumes given off (offgassing) by synthetic chemicals and toxins used in modern building materials that cannot escape a tightly-constructed, super-insulated home build up in the indoor environment. Moisture also is trapped; mold and mildew can be the result. Radon, a radioactive substance in the ground can seep into buildings.

Some people are exposed to toxins in the workplace. Even those not engaged in occupations with direct exposures (such as the printing industry, dry cleaning, hair salons or pest control) can be exposed to fumes trapped in tightly sealed, energy-efficient buildings. Re-circulated air in these buildings can hold fumes from carpets, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, copiers and inks.

 

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You’re Grounded! (but in a good way) – Part 2

Barefooting and earthing

You’re Grounded! (but in a good way) – Part 1 discussed centering and grounding. Grounding, though, also has a more literal interpretation. It can refer to the physical connection between your bioelectrical body and the earth’s surface. Barefooting and earthing are two more ways to become grounded.

Barefooting

Eastern philosophies are centered around a vital energy – the life force – called qi (or chi) or prana that exists in all things. Practices like yoga, t’ai chi and qigong, as well as many martial arts, advocate practicing barefoot and preferably outside on the ground, directly connecting us with earth qi. This connection allows us to “grow roots” into the earth giving us energy and stability. We attune to the fundamental rhythms of nature.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys store the essence of a person. There is a point on the bottom of the foot called the yong quan point or “bubbling spring.” This point is called Kidney 1 (KD1) in acupuncture and reflexology. KD1 is the first point on the energy meridian associated with the kidneys. Working on KD1 produces calm and relaxation. It is also used to address headaches and gastrointestinal issues by drawing excess energy down from the upper body and grounding it. Walking barefoot stimulates the many nerve endings on the soles of the feet. It also works KD1.

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