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.
"Last Sunday I played full court basketball for the first time in 15 years. I will qualify the contest by saying it happened on a court just out of the back door of an elder care center. The teams consisted of a 7 year old, an d8 year old, a young woman in flip-flops (I played in sandals), a woman who proudly stated she was 55 years old (I retorted with my age of 65), and a couple of other young guys that really played well. I ran the court, I played defense, blocked shots, made shots (missed a lot), got lots of rebounds, and talked a lot of smack while playing with a group of people a lot younger than me. I even made a behind the back-twisting fall-away shot, then fell and tumbled on the court. I jumped up and continued to play, and we played for about 45 minutes.
I attribute my ability to play this game that I love so much again to the excellent training receive from Kristy who is a trainer at A2 Physical Therapy. I have worked out and trained since I was very young. I played high school basketball, baseball, and I ran track. I spent 20 years in the Army with all the training requirements associated with that occupation. I played on community and city leagues, and I have trained with weights for many years. The training program Kristy has devised for me at A2 is rigorous, thorough, diverse, fun, challenging, and focused. She prepares workout plans that are age and fitness level appropriate. My work out now is so much different then it was when I first started. She both trains me individually and as a couple. I run, jump, stretch, lift, balance, squat, push, pull, and every other movement you can imagine. I look forward to going to my workout every time. Kristy is completely in charge of every workout. I am retired, and my training at A2 allows me to fill the need to accomplish something positive every day I work out. I am doing physical activity with ease that I would not have thought I would be able be able to accomplish at the age of 65 such as hiking on Mt Rainer and running 4 days per week. Kristy and A2 have really changed my life…"
"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
"Before I started coming to A2 I was always tired and could barely pick up or carry my grandchildren a ½ block. After the first 6 weeks of working with Kristi I got a big surprise when I took my grandchildren to a festival and carried the youngest 4 blocks before she woke up enough to walk. I then picked her up and put her on my shoulders so she could see better without effort. I was amazed at how much strength I had gained in a short time. I continue to see improvement in my strength and I’m no longer tired all the time."