Getting Good Sleep is Vital to Your Health
By South Sound magazine staff
We all know how much better we feel after a solid night’s sleep. Yet, instead of thinking about sleep as a solid foundation to our good health, some people treat getting shut-eye like it’s a luxury for babies, retirees, and cats. They cheat themselves a solid 7-9 hours in exchange for lot of things, like doing more work, mindlessly scrolling social media, or binge watching their favorite shows on Netflix. We talked to Alika Antone, Doctor of Physical Therapy and owner of A2 Physical Therapy in Tacoma, about why getting quality sleep should be your top priority, and how to do it better.
Q. How much sleep should an average adult get every night?
A. 7-9 hours. This will vary between individuals. Most people have heard of ‘8 hours’ as an estimate, but it’s important to know that you may need closer to 7 or 9 hours to get the proper required sleep for your body. Many people don't know that you actually accumulate “sleep debt.” So, if you miss out on an hour one night, you need to “pay back” sleep with an additional hour the next night. (Sleep debt is manageable at first, but not over the long-term).
Q. When you meet with patients, are you finding that they are often sleep deprived?
A.Yes, sleep deprived, stressed, and lacking time for themselves. Which leads to nutritional and hydration deficits, salt and sugar cravings, etc. Stress promotes the release of cortisol which can trigger pain, weight gain, fatigue, and disease. The brain considers sleep debt a “stress.”
Q. Besides being tired, moody, and spending all of your extra cash at coffee shops, what can lack of sleep do?
A. Not getting enough sleep can lead to increased risk of injury and a reduced pain threshold; greater susceptibility to sickness; reduced physical and psychological performance; increased anxiety, irritability and increased body fat.
Dr. Antone’s Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
1. First, talk to a health care professional if you think you might have a medical sleeping disorder.
2. Resolve daily dilemmas outside of the bedroom. You can try making a “worry” list to get things off of your mind.
3. Play 10 minutes of Tetris or another puzzle game to ‘reboot’ your brain, and to stop the “worry” cycle.
4. The bedroom is not an office — be wary of bringing technology to bed. Turn off screens and lights an hour or two before bedtime.
5. Establish a bedtime routine and be consistent. Try taking a hot bath or shower, read a book, or write in a journal. Listen to a relaxing app like “Calm” or try playing soft music.
6. Practice diaphragmatic breathing, and work on being more mindful/meditation daily.
7. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs to help align your spine/hips.
8. During the day get exercise — it will help alleviate anxiety, and you will sleep better later.
Good to Know
A2 Physical Therapy offers weekly mindfulness classes and daily group exercise, too. Contact us for more information.
"It was very helpful to be taught exercises I could do at home to alleviate the pain in my back and to make my stomach/diaphragm stronger. It was a great experience and I took away a lot of knowledge to help myself."
− T. Docherty
"Physically and mentally as healthy as I can be is my goal. My father lived to 93 and fairly healthy physically and mentally. My mother is 96 years old and is failing mentally and physically. I have watched the good and bad of aging. My chances of longevity is good but I want to be mentally and physically as healthy as I can be. Not until I started working out with Kristi Cruz at A2 did I know how to prepare myself for my road ahead. Kristi has given me the tools and information for me to understand what I need. She has led me by my hands and feet to improve me physically and talked and explained to help me understand the process. Working out with Kristi two or three times per week is a priority and my recipe for good mental and physical health. My name is Geri Markham and I am 71 years old. I feel as fit as I could be at my age. I have to give all the credit to Kristi Cruz at A2 for walking with me through the process. I would recommend Kristi totally if you are interested in learning to be physically and mentally healthy as you move on in life. Life is good thanks to A2 and Kristi Cruz."
"Everyone at A2 is fantastic. Had a great experience from the 1st phone call. Don't change, you guys are awesome!"