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Why Sleep Is So Important?

Sleep Reset: Simple Steps to get Intentional about your Sleep

By: Dr. Katie Gleisner

Every night is a good night to sleep well. However, one in three of us struggles on a nightly basis with sleep. Whether falling or staying asleep is challenging, a poor night of sleep impacts every facet of your wellbeing. Your health is based on your movement, nutrition, and sleep. We spend a third of life sleeping, and it is a fundamental aspect of our physical, emotional, and chemical wellbeing. 

It seems everywhere I look there is another idea to improve sleep. As someone who loves and values my rest, I explore these ideas. Should I meditate? Should I take melatonin? Should I work out before bedtime? Should I read? And as a chiropractor, I care deeply about my patients’ sleep because those 7 to 9 hours of rest are essential for our bodies to detoxify, heal, and function optimally. Let’s explore the science of sleep and simple steps to catch some ZZZs with greater ease. 

Sleep is a biological necessity for your brain and body. It is Mother Nature’s built-in recovery and restoration system. The brain needs sleep to learn, be productive, and adapt to stress. However, humans are the only species that deprive themselves of sleep with little benefit. Many of us struggle with sleep deficiency, which seriously impacts our ability to focus, learn, create memories, fight off infections, and age well. Sleep expert and neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker has dedicated his research to the importance of sleep and its health benefits. Through his research it is recommended that adults get a minimum of 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Your brain requires this period of rest after learning to save memories, and to prepare for the next day’s learning. Studies comparing well-rested to sleep deprived participants found a 40% decline in learning—the difference between passing and failing an exam, due to hippocampus activity. The hippocampus is the information campus of the brain. It collects and holds onto our memories. When we are sleep deprived our hippocampus shuts down, thereby negatively impacting our ability to focus and learn. 

Your ability to cope with daily stress and handle anxiety or depression symptoms is impacted by your sleep. A lack of sleep causes the brain to revert to a primitive pattern of uncontrolled reactivity. We produce unmetered, emotional reactions due to heightened amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for processing fear and activating our sympathetic “fight, flight, or freeze” response. Less sleep creates a heightened amygdala response, resulting in increased sympathetic response and emotional outbursts. Decreased sleep leads to oxidative stress and inflammation, the root cause of ill health and disease. The hippocampus and amygdala are initial structures to suffer from this oxidative stress. Whether you slept poorly last night or you are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, each evening with less rest decreases your ability to form new memories and cope with daily stress, as well as increases your risk to develop Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. 

Beyond the brain, your body needs sleep. Your genetic, immune, and cardiovascular systems all rely on sleep for proper function. Additional studies comparing well-rested to sleep deprived participants found a correlation between less sleep and upregulated gene activity. These activated genes are related to inflammatory and tumor promoting conditions. Also, decreased sleep is directly correlated with weaker immune system function. Our Natural Killer cells are your immune system assassins that identify and eliminate unwanted elements from your body. There is a 70% drop in Natural Killer cell activity with 4 hours of sleep, which studies correlate with higher rates of breast and colon cancer. While we sleep, our heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing stabilizes. Fragmented sleep negatively impacts the cardiovascular system, and every hour of sleep counts. Daylight Savings Time sleep studies found a 24% increase in heart attacks the day following springing ahead, and a 21% reduction in heart attacks after falling back.  Sleep impacts every aspect of your physiology and health. The shorter duration you sleep, the shorter your life expectancy. 

Sleep, just as every other facet of health, requires intentionality and commitment. So, let’s tuck in and discover simple steps to improve your sleep quality. 

  1. Regularity and Routine. Your body prefers routine. Creating a consistent bed and wake time helps establish a healthy sleep-wake rhythm. Whether weeknight or weekend, aim to be in bed and rise at the same time to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. 
  2. Keep it Cool. Turn down the thermostat to 65-68 degrees, the optimal sleeping temperature. Your body needs to drop its core temperature 2 to 3 degrees to initiate sleep and stay asleep.
  3. Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol. Caffeine is a stimulant and blocks adenosine, an essential sleep chemical in the brain. Avoid drinking caffeine after lunch to fall asleep easier. A cocktail or glass of wine can be relaxing in the evening, but limit alcohol consumption four hours before bedtime. Alcohol sedates the body and inhibits deep REM sleep, which relates to frequent wake ups and prevents optimal brain restoration. 
  4. Prioritize Unwind Time. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Whether you journal, take a bath, listen to soothing music, do some yoga stretches, or follow a guided meditation, take time to connect to your brain, body, and breath. Avoid high intensity workouts 2-3 hours before bed as it can inhibit your brain’s ability to relax.
  5. Don’t Lie in Bed. Avoid lying in bed for too long, as it can increase frustration and anxiety around falling asleep. Your brain will associate the bed with being awake. If you continue to feel awake after lying down for 25-30 minutes, get up, move to another room, and do a relaxing activity until you start to feel sleepy.

Sleep is a biological necessity that you depend on to heal and restore on a nightly basis. Hopefully, this post brings awareness around your sleep habits and some simple tips to create a healthier sleep routine tonight. By prioritizing your rest, you boost your mental and physical stamina to take on the following day and achieve optimal health.  


Sweet dreams.

 

HBOT NJ

Hyperbaric Oxygen May Be a Missing Piece of the Puzzle

By Dr. Jason Sonners, DC, CHP, DCBCN

Clinic Director, HBOT USA, Inc.

In traditional medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been proven to be a very safe and effective tool for a wide variety of conditions. After thousands of research studies, it turns out that with all the different conditions where hyperbaric therapy can have a positive impact, the mechanisms for success are similar. These include, but are not limited to, reduced inflammation, increased stem cell release, nerve and brain tissue healing, increased oxygenation, new blood vessel growth, toxin inhibition and improved mitochondrial metabolism.

How does Hyperbaric therapy work?

The reason we absorb oxygen when we breath is because of pressure. Even right now, as you are reading this, you are surrounded by an atmosphere and that atmospheric pressure is what forces oxygen into your body when you take a breath in. We do not feel the pressure, but it is always all around us. If you have ever gone up to altitude, like on a big hike, you may notice that it seems harder to breathe. Some people say there is less oxygen at elevation, but this is not exactly true. There is always 21% oxygen in the air we breathe. The reason it is harder to breathe is because there is less atmospheric pressure the higher we ascend, and less atmospheric pressure means less driving force of oxygen into or body.  As a result, we absorb less oxygen with each breath. The opposite is true if we go below sea level; the “deeper” we go, the more pressure we are exposed to. This increase in pressure will increase the amount of oxygen we absorb as we breathe. 

The total amount of oxygen your body can carry is proportional to the amount of pressure and oxygen we are exposed to. Under normal atmospheric pressure, when your body absorbs oxygen, that oxygen is carried and delivered to your tissues by red blood cells and very little oxygen is carried by your plasma, the liquid portion of your blood. Under hyperbaric conditions, those red blood cells will still be fully saturated with oxygen, but in addition the plasma will become a reservoir of “extra” oxygen holding more than it is typically able to hold. This extra amount of oxygen is now free floating in your blood and able to deliver higher than normal amounts of oxygen to your cells.

Hyperbaric therapy can be delivered in a multitude of different oxygen percentages and pressures—from low or mild hyperbarics with about a 30% increase in pressure and oxygen absorption up to relatively high pressure and oxygen levels 10-12x the normal oxygen exposure. The amount of pressure and oxygen used depend on the clinical goals for the patient.

 

What we know about children affected by autism

Every family with a child on the spectrum has a unique set of circumstances and health concerns. I am yet to meet two children (even from the same family) who needed the exact same treatment protocols. This makes the process and journey of recovery often a long a winding road for most families seeking answers. 

According to the research, among children with ASD:

>70% have neuroinflammation

>75% have hypoperfusion to the temporal lobes

>80% have mitochondrial issues

>59% have gut issues

We also know that toxicity—including but not limited to heavy metals, pesticides, preservatives and mold toxicity—all play a role in the health of children affected by ASD.

What we do not know about ASD

Even though the above has been shown to be true in the research overall, knowing exactly which conditions each child has and in which order we need to work on them in is the most obvious clinical deficiency. Creating the priority and order of procedure is where the art of being in practice and clinical experience comes in. Some, but not all of these issues can be tested and measured objectively like using a SPECT scan for observing brain oxygen metabolism, or stool testing to better understand, diagnose and treat gut microbiome issues. There are some tests for mitochondrial issues, but the lack of definite specificity makes them less accurate than we would like to best understand mitochondrial disfunction. There are also tests for objectively measuring toxin loads in order to assess the need for detoxification being part of the healing process.

All of these factors—low oxygen levels, high levels of inflammation, gut microbiome imbalance, mitochondrial dysfunction and toxicity—can be helped through the use of hyperbaric therapy.

Looking for common denominators

Therapies can be broken into two main categories: targeted and systemic. Targeted therapies specifically treat a particular identified issue, while systemic therapies are those that are purposely delivered to the entire body for a full body experience. Both strategies have value and most doctors will want to use both at different times throughout the journey.

Targeted therapies:

In order to decide on targeted therapies, we need to identify specific issues often through lab testing. Testing for all of the potential issues at the same time can be costly, time consuming and potentially invasive depending on which tests are chosen. Spending the time to try and prioritize the needs of the child in order to determine the most likely underlying issues is an important part of the process. 

Systemic therapies:

As noted above, the testing process can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. While it does have tremendous value, we are also looking for low invasive, low risk, high return types of interventions first. If we can offer single therapies that are safe, effective and have very broad reaching effects, we can often begin to see a positive healing response. This does two things: First it is therapeutic and begins to encourage healing within the child’s body, and second it is diagnostic and actually helps the helping identify what tests ought to be considered next.

Hyperbaric therapy is inherently safe and effective

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has a more than 350 year history of safely and effectively delivering an increased level of oxygen to the body and cells in need. Every cell we have (except for red blood cells) requires oxygen for optimal function. Our body uses that oxygen in order to burn fuel and make energy for each of our cells. In fact, the only reason we breath is to absorb and deliver oxygen to our cells for the purpose of making ATP or cell energy.

If we are not getting enough oxygen, it is impossible to make the appropriate amount of cell energy and that will have a negative effect on the tissue or organ that is low oxygen. Whether we are talking about hypoperfusion, mitochondrial dysfunction, toxicity or inflammation, all are capable of causing low oxygen levels in the various tissues in the body, not allowing those tissue or organs to function properly, heal properly, detoxify properly or process properly in the case of our brain.

Using hyperbaric therapy, we observe both short- and long-term categories of improvement:

  • Short term: Within minutes of each session and for hours after the session, the body will have absorbed more oxygen than it typically gets. With that increase in oxygen the cells will be much more able to receive oxygen and process nutrients increasing metabolism and cell energy production.
  • Long term: As a result of extended hyperbaric use, the body will begin to go through many changes. New blood cells will be created allowing better delivery of oxygen all over the body; inflammation will be reduced as well as the overall inflammatory response inside the body; growth factors will be release along with stem cell release increasing the ingredients the body requires to actually heal and recover. Additionally, intestinal function, liver function, toxin inhibition, improved immune system activation and microbiome balancing are all part of the longer-term benefits of prolonged hyperbaric use.

We all know that there is no single cure for ASD. Simplified, it is a process of removing as many of the ingredients that are causing inflammation and imbalance as we can identify and at the same time adding back all the necessary ingredients the body requires to heal, repair and ultimately recover.

Hyperbaric therapy by itself cannot cure this disorder, but it can absolutely add back Oxygen, one of the most foundational and important ingredients in the body.

 

Dr. Jason Sonners, DC, CHP, DCBCN

www.HBOTUSA.com

www.NewJerseyHBOT.com

www.HbotPA.com

www.CoreTherapies.net

 

About Dr. Jason Sonners:

Dr. Jason Sonners is always working to integrate new knowledge and practical experience and is currently enrolled in the University of Miami School of Medicine earning his PhD in molecular biology with a concentration in regenerative medicine.  In addition to his Doctor of Chiropractic, he earned his Diplomate of the Chiropractic Board of Clinical Nutrition (DCBCN) and his Diplomate of the International Board of Applied Kinesiology (DIBAK).   

While serving on the faculty of the International Hyperbarics Association, Dr. Sonners is also a faculty member of MedMAPS, a group of professionals offering comprehensive education and fellowship to medical professionals for the care of children with autism spectrum disorders and related chronic complex conditions.  

Dr. Sonners and his wife, Dr. Melissa Sonners, are co-owners of Core Therapies Family Wellness Center in Northern New Jersey, a holistic center where he combines Chiropractic, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Nutrition, Exercise, Detoxification programs and more to naturally support patients and guide them through their health challenges.  Core Therapies also offers acupuncture, massage, infrared, sauna, spinal decompression, yoga and laser therapies.  They are also the owners of NJ HBOT & HBOT USA.  

 

References:

Frye RE, Rossignol DA. Mitochondrial dysfunction can connect the diverse medical symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatr Res. 2011;69(5 Pt 2):41R-7R. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e318212f16b

Kong X, Liu J, Cetinbas M, et al. New and Preliminary Evidence on Altered Oral and Gut Microbiota in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Implications for ASD Diagnosis and Subtyping Based on Microbial Biomarkers. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2128. Published 2019 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/nu11092128

Bjorklund, Geir & Kern, Janet & Urbina, Mauricio & Saad, Khaled & El-Houfey, Amira & Geier, David & Geier, Mark & Mehta, Jyutika & Aaseth, Jan. (2018). Cerebral Hypoperfusion in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Acta neurobiologiae experimentalis. 78. 21-29. 10.21307/ane-2018-005.

Camporesi EM, Bosco G. Mechanisms of action of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2014 May-Jun;41(3):247-52. PMID: 24984320.

Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Catherine Lozupone, Dae-Wook Kang & James B. Adams (2015) Gut bacteria in children with autism spectrum disorders: challenges and promise of studying how a complex community influences a complex disease, Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 26:1

 

The Importance of Purpose

The Importance of Purpose

by Dr. Melissa Sonners

March 2021

 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Have you ever read something or heard something that literally changed your life? When I read this quote about five years ago, it changed me.  And now, during this time it feels just as impactful. 

This has been an insane year for all of us and I don’t know about you, but I have found moments and times during this year where I have felt like I wasn’t sure where to put my focus.  Juggling homeschool, a new role with a non-profit organization, our office and our hyperbaric oxygen company has certainly proved challenging and yet at the same time, so rewarding.  I have been so thankful that I have a clear purpose and direction to help me feel that I have a direction to follow when all else seems chaotic.  

Knowing your purpose is so important, yet it can sound like an overwhelming task.  When you look to establish your purpose, issues and questions like these may arise: 

  • How do I fully commit to something? 
  • I am a mom and have forgotten my purpose outside my family.  
  • I work so much that I don’t even know what my purpose is outside of work.  

Well, let’s keep it simple.  What do you love to do? When you think about the things that you love, that lift you, that light you up, that excite you, that’s where you’ll find your purpose. 

If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion.  For your passion will lead you right into purpose!” – B. Jakes

So, for right now, in the midst of this year that can at times feel oh so heavy, take some time to think on what your purpose is and take steps each day to fulfill it.  

Go out and shine your light. The world needs you. The world is ready for you.  

The world needs more people who have found their purpose, who do what they love and create balance in their lives by working hard for something they believe in. Often in our lives, it’s not the darkness that scares us most—it’s our light. It’s our powerful light we all have inside that scares us.  It’s the “big ass goals” we’re sometimes too afraid to say out loud because we want them so badly, but don’t want to set ourselves up for failure.  

I want our kids to shine their lights. I want them to have those big ass goals that are so big and so scary that they make you shake with fear and excitement all at the same time.  Those are the things that make life an adventure. Those are the things that make life worth living.  

The Importance of Purpose

If we all did that, unapologetically, this world would be a better place.

 

Riding the Peloton Wave

Riding the Peloton Wave

By Dr. Matt McGowan D.C.

February 2021

 

There is no doubt that Peloton is the hottest thing going in the home exercise space.  It has had incredible popularity throughout the pandemic due to gym closures and personal preferences for working out at home.  While Peloton has made an excellent machine and an even better streaming service, there are a few things that I find myself repeatedly explaining to patients that I would like to share.  

 

Seated exercise is not the way to fix sitting problems.

 

In the current state of the world, most people’s work environments have them sitting more than ever.  Many are finding themselves sitting on couches, at kitchen tables, or at countertops sitting on stools.  The bottom line is that the amount of hours sitting is causing a shift in the balance of our hips and lower back.  Increased sitting and improper exercise habits will lead to the quads and hip flexors becoming the dominant movers for the lower body.  This can lead to pelvic imbalance and increased pressure and or injury on the lower back.   If all we are doing for exercise is hopping on a spin bike several times a week—still in a seated position—the cardiovascular benefits you are getting will be far outweighed by the increase in injury to the hips and low back.  

 

It is very important to diversify the movements you do on a weekly basis to make sure we are working out in all planes of motion.  For those finding themselves in a similar situation to what I have described, here are some easy additions that I recommend to many of my patients, including photo illustrations:

 

1.) Immediately after completing spin or cycle workout, perform a kneeling quad/hip flexor stretch.  You need to spend 2-3 minutes per side working in these positions.  It is important that before lunging forward, first squeeze the glutes to tilt the pelvis posteriorly (backwards), flattening the lower back.   This will ensure that the stretch is effective to the hip and will not bear any extra pressure on the lower back. 

 

2.) After working on hip extension mobility, it is necessary to also work on hip extension strength.   One of the best and easiest ways to start working on that are with glute bridges.  These are simple exercise that require no extra equipment; there are also endless ways to progress them forward and make them more difficult.  It is important to make sure you lift up your toes and press your heels into the floor.  Again similar to the hip flexor stretch, you should first posterior tilt the pelvis by pressing the lower back into the floor before pressing through the heels and bridging up.  

 

Riding the Peloton Wave

 

3.) Also add in exercises that work on strengthening the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings).  Some of my favorites are:

 

  • Romanian deadlifts (not as intimidating as they sound!)
  • Banded hip hinges
  • Russian Kettle bell swings 

 

With any exercise recommendation, proper form is of the upmost importance.  If you have any questions please reach out to one of us or a qualified fitness professional.