Poor Sleep Quality May Lead to Muscle Aches

Poor Sleep Quality May Lead to Muscle Aches

By Larisa Goldin, MBA, LMP 

Among factors that impact overall health, sleep is right at the top.  While it is important that you are proactive in your health during the day with nutrition, fitness and healing your body through methods like massage and acupuncture, it is equally important that you are receiving quality sleep.  Long-term sleep deprivation is a tremendous stressor to our bodies that weakens the immune system, opening the door to both physiological and neurological disorders.

A mattress that is too firm does not offer enough support for your body’s natural curves.  One that is too soft exaggerates the curves of your spine as parts of your body sink in to the mattress.  In either case, your muscles, whose job it is to maintain healthy posture and protect the spine, are working hard throughout the night instead of resting.  This is why you wake up sore.

Not only does a bad mattress cause muscle soreness but it also hurts the quality of your sleep.  Instead of sleeping soundly through a 5 to 7 hour stretch, you tend to wake up frequently to change sleeping positions since you are not comfortable.

When you go shopping for your new mattress, don’t worry about the fancy brand names and all the industry jargon about coils and pillow tops.  No matter how fancy or expensive a mattress is, if it is too firm or too soft for you, you don’t want it.  Get on the mattresses and try them out for yourself.  Most experts recommend you lie on a mattress for a few minutes so your body can adjust to it before you decide how the mattress really feels.  One way you can test if you need something softer is if you can slide your hand easily under the small of your back when you lay supine. Ideally the mattress should come to meet your body.  On the other hand, if you are heavy-set and experience chronic lower back pain, then you will probably want a firmer mattress.


3 Subtle Signs You’re Stressed and What to Do About It

stress massage seattleAs working professionals, we’ve mastered the balancing act. We work full-time, have a lively social life, and make time to be active. We move fast and that’s how we like it.
However, in between the happy hours and work meetings, stress can creep in without your knowing. Stress doesn’t always trigger a loud, red siren. Many times, there are quiet signs telling you that you may be stressed.
You don’t need to sacrifice your busy lifestyle to reduce stress, but you should be aware of three important, subtle clues and listen to your body when it’s time to slow down:
1. Changing sleeping patterns: Your subconscious can let you in on important, underlying mental and physical happenings, and you should listen to its messages. Pay attention to your sleeping patterns; trouble falling asleep and weird dreams are all signs that you may be stressed.
What to do: Ask yourself if you are getting six or more hours of sleep each night. If not, identify what is causing you to have trouble sleeping. Are you putting off a certain conversation? Are you up against a strict deadline at work? Addressing stress in your day will make your nights easier. To help you sleep, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, and increase your exercise routine.
2. Tight, aching back or neck: Many of us carry our stress in our necks and backs. High levels of stress can cause discomfort by tightening your muscles and causing muscle spasms. This is part of our natural flight-or-fight response, and is one of the ways our bodies respond to challenges and demands.
What to do: Massage, meditation, and yoga can all relieve tight muscles. Take time to stretch during the day to prevent muscles from knotting up, and do some yoga to unwind at the end of the day. A monthly massage can also drastically improve sore muscles. A 2011 study found that massage helped people in pain feel and function better, compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.
3. A craving for dessert: Anytime you have a sudden change in cravings, you should interpret it as your body telling you something is different or off. A new study claims that stress can turn on certain hormones located in our taste buds, making us crave sweets.
What to do: Be mindful of why you are craving certain foods. Monitor your stress levels and when you feel like you need to have sweets, take a few minutes to breathe and retain focus, or take a brisk walk around the block. If you really do need to satisfy your sweet tooth, choose healthy options like raisins, dried fruit, or a small piece of dark chocolate.
The bottom line: practice self-awareness and listen to what your body is telling you. Maintaining an active, mobile lifestyle will allow you to bounce between social events, succeed at work, and maintain your health.

Improve Sleep with Acupuncture

by Diana Khoury

Up to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders every year.1 Sleep problems range from mild to chronic and include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and other, less common conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds us that “sufficient sleep is not a luxury—it is a necessity—and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.”2

Changes in American society over the last several decades have contributed to an increase in sleep irregularities. Leading factors include higher stress levels than in past generations, busy 24/7 lifestyles, obesity, and overstimulation from increased access to TV, Internet, and personal electronics. As a society we are getting less and poorer quality sleep than ever before.

man-sleeping_hr“Sleep is something your body needs to recharge your batteries, and it affects nearly every aspect of your life,” says Marci Cleary, spokeswoman for the National Sleep Foundation. “It’s food for the brain.”3Since sleep is such an important indi- cator of overall health, it’s no wonder that deprivation negatively impacts the body and one’s quality of life.


Sleep loss has many negative effects, including low energy level and decreased ability to focus. Doctors say lack of sleep erodes memory and concentration, disturbs neurological function, inhibits tissue and muscle restoration and slackens reflexes.

According to the CDC, “Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression—which threaten our nation’s health. Notably, insufficient sleep is associated with the onset of these diseases and also poses important implications for their management and outcome.”2


In response to the steep increase in sleep disorders, the number of accredited sleep clinics in the U.S. has more than tripled since 1995. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies have targeted sleeplessness as an attractive growth market for the coming years. Sleep clinics may be able to provide relief, but each visit to an accredited clinic can cost thousands of dollars. Drugs may address the symptoms of common sleep issues, but they can be addictive, have side effects, and do not address the root cause of the problem.

Acupuncture, as an alternative treatment for sleep problems, has been shown to outperform western medication due to its lack of side effects. In 2009, a clinical review of 46 research studies on the effects of acupuncture on insomnia concluded that acupuncture improves sleep duration and quality.4 One controlled study of anxiety sufferers and their sleep patterns demonstrated that acupuncture physiologically increased melatonin production, enabling participants to fall asleep faster and wake less during the night. Participants also reported reduced anxiety levels due to increased relaxation.5

In a study conducted in Brazil with sleep apnea patients, acupuncture measurably strengthened and reduced inflammation in the tongue muscle, decreasing incidences of the tongue falling back during sleep, blocking the airway.6 As a result, participants’ apnea symptoms were reduced and overall sleep quality improved.

To address sleep disorders appropriately, a qualified acupuncturist will first conduct a thorough intake and evaluation of your symptoms. This will allow the practitioner to create a targeted acupuncture treatment plan for maximum results: better sleep, improved health, and increased quality of life.

This is an original article from Dreamclinic, Inc. Dreamclinic is a Health and Wellness company committed to sharing information about commonly experienced health conditions and how they may be impacted through the use of bodywork and other natural approaches. Dreamclinic offers massage, acupuncture, and Reiki sessions at its Greenlake and Queen Anne clinics, as well as onsite massage at workplaces around Puget Sound. Contact us to learn more about how Dreamclinic can help you, your family or your workplace experience greater health.

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
2. http://www.cdc.gov/sleep/
3. http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2002925590_sleepless12e.html  
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156618/
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14990755
6. http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/acupuncture.html

Image: www.centerforspinaldisorders.com

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