This post is written by Ulrika Tegelman Jones who is a chiropractor specializing in women during pregnancy. You can find her at www.kirokliniken.se
It’s a very common problem to have back pain and discomfort interfere with your sleep while pregnant. Several reasons can include that the spine is stressed in many ways due to the extra weight of the baby, hormones during pregnancy cause the ligaments to be more relaxed and the joints are more unstable making it hard to find a good sleeping position. Pregnancy also causes the curvature of the spine to change by creating a bigger curve in the lower back (lordosis) to accommodate for the growing belly, which can cause some discomfort. Other common symptoms include pelvic pain, tension headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Many women experience poor sleep during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester due to the above aches and pains. To help make the pregnant body more comfortable during sleep, some Norwegian female chiropractors developed the pregnancy pillow “BBhugme” that helps support the spine and growing belly.
This pillow gives the perfect support during pregnancy and helps give support to the most important areas such as the stomach, pelvis, lower back, knees, and ankles.
Sleep is important for you and your growing baby! If you can improve your sleep comfort and the quality of your sleep during pregnancy, both you and your baby will benefit.
Here are some simple stretches you can also use to help relax the body before bedtime and ease some aches and pains:
Just like adults, babies have different temperaments. Some are laid back and happy most of the time; others can be prone to frequent tantrums. Some babies enjoy a peaceful environment; others feel more comfortable when there is noise around. You may not realize, but the type of temperament that your little one has can affect their sleep, as well as having an effect on any sleep training that you provide.
When you are making changes to your child’s sleep, they may respond easily and go with the flow or they may protest for a while about it. This is where knowing your child’s temperament will help you when making changes and what to expect.
Do you have a dandelion baby or an orchid baby?
Now first off, if you have a dandelion baby I’m not calling your child a weed! 😀 All I mean is that some babies are able to thrive no matter where they are and others need very specific conditions. Just like a dandelion they can adapt and thrive no matter what kind of environment they are in, like this dandelion, for example. It’s not in an ideal place for water, probably gets extremely hot in the bricks and the conditions are not ideal, but it’s growing and thriving without any problem. Before becoming a parent I thought this is how all babies were. Oh, how wrong I was!
Now take and orchid. An orchid needs conditions that are just right. Not too much water, not too much sun light, not too hot, not too cold, juuuuuuust right. If the conditions aren’t good then the orchid doesn’t thrive. I know because I had orchids living in Colorado and never had success with growing them but in Sweden they are like the easiest plant! 😀 If you have a child that needs very specific conditions, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll need to be very aware of their awake windows, naps times, routines, and room environment for sleeping.
If your baby is an easy going dandelion
If you have an easy going baby, the task of getting them to sleep through the night should be fairly simple. In fact, you may find that they do all of the work themselves. This type of baby is often a self-soother. This means that If they do wake up in the night they will usually fall asleep again in a few minutes.
If this sounds like your baby, you should simply stick to a regular routine each night, so that they get to know that it’s time to sleep. If you do hear any crying during the night, you should use a technique that is a gradual way to help guide them to sleep but they will be able to start doing it more on their own fairly soon. Your little one may have been startled by waking up and just need a few minutes to settle, so leave them for about ten minutes before you investigate. However, self-soothers and easy going babies do not usually carry on crying. If the upset continues, it’s a good idea to check if there is a problem.
If your baby is an orchid
Every parent thinks their own child is special; even if their little one is difficult. However, some babies can be hard work; even if their parents will not admit it in public. If this sounds like your baby, the good news is that temperaments can change. Just because your baby is tantrum prone and attention seeking does not mean they will be a difficult toddler or teen.
However, babies that are difficult still present a problem in the here and now. They are easily disturbed and upset and they want you to be there when they are. This results in frequent loud crying during the night. One thing you should never do if you have a child with this type of temperament is adopt the ‘cry it out’ technique. Some babies will just keep crying for hours, until they get attention. This is not good for the baby, or anyone else in the household. This does not mean you should let your baby rule your nights either. Here are some tips that you may find useful.
If your child is a little of both
The fact is that many babies veer from being easy going to demanding, at a moment’s notice. There can be many reasons for this such as:
The best way to deal with this may be to use a gradual approach to not answering their signals at night. You can start by popping your head into your baby’s room to check on them, and then get them gradually used to you not coming straight away when they cry. If they wake up at night, you first wait only a minute or two. Then the next night you start increasing the time by another one to two minutes until you are up to ten minutes. If they just want to grab your attention, and you do not provide it, they will often get bored and go back to sleep. However, all babies are different, so be prepared to be flexible. Some will be more persistent than others when it comes to this!
By the time you are ready to make changes to your baby’s to sleep, you should have a good idea of their personality. Use this knowledge to help you find a sleep training technique that works best for you and your child.
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: JUNE 25, 2019
The concept of training a baby to sleep may sound a little strange to you as a parent. Surely, a child should enjoy and benefit from natural sleep, rather than be trained. That’s what I thought in the beginning too! Then I had a baby who needed help understanding when it was time to sleep and what that feeling meant in her body. The thing about training your child is that it can actually help them, and you, to get the right amount of restful sleep. It’s a way of protecting your baby and keeping them healthy and happy. Training or practicing healthy sleep habits is no different than your baby learning how to eat or crawl on their own. Both take time, practice, and patience.
The most important thing to remember is that every child is different, as is every family. What works in one home may not work in another. There are different methods to help your baby sleep so, take a look at the ones mentioned here to create a sleep training routine for your baby that fits your family.
What does sleep training involve?
Sleep training is simply a way for you to help your child understand how to sleep, so that they get the rest they need. For the first four months of your baby’s life, you really just need to go with the flow. The way your child sleeps will depend on basic needs such as feeding and changing. But what you can do from early on is set up their room for sleep (dark, cool, quiet) and begin simple and consistent sleep routines (feed, song, sleep) to help develop these habits early on. Once your child is around four months old they are usually ready for more routines and sleep guidance but these simple steps will help make this transition.
If your child still seems reluctant to sleep for longer periods, do not worry. As I mentioned earlier, every child is different. Your baby may simply need to be a little older before they can begin to understand how to sleep for longer.
First steps in sleep training
The first thing you need to think about when sleep training a baby is having a routine in place.
You will see several sleep training methods mentioned by experts. No one method is best, you simply need to find the method that works in your situation. Let’s take a look at the three main methods, which can be varied to suit.
Cry it out
This is the method is as it sounds. You place your baby in their crib and you leave the room and return at regular intervals to help soothe. This does not mean that you should just leave your baby crying for hours. If attempting this method, it’s best to place your baby in their crib before they get too tired. Let them cry for a while when you leave and go back to soothe them if necessary. In this method you do not pick your baby up; simply soothe them with your voice. This method can be difficult for some parents to manage. Although this is the method many pediatricians advice parents to use, I believe there are better ways to help a baby develop health sleep habits. This method may not suit all families. Before I knew anything about baby sleep we attempted this method for about 10 minutes and gave up. Now I know that there are better ways to help a child, but if you do use this method, be sure that their room is set up for sleep and they have a consistent routine in place before sleep.
This is the complete opposite of the cry it out approach. As soon as your baby cries, you should comfort and soothe them immediately. The problem you may find is that some babies tend to be more attention seeking than others. If your baby knows you will come if they cry, training them to sleep could be a long process. You will need a lot of patience and time with using this method. I find this method to be very difficult because it takes a very long time to see results. Maybe your baby isn’t crying but you are because you are so tired. I also tried this method and it was too exhausting to continue.
This method of baby sleep training is popular with a lot of parents and one that has a nice balance of learning and love. It involves moving further away from your child’s crib each night as they fall asleep. They get used to you being at arm’s length and then not being in the room and it’s a gradual process. Fading also involves checking your baby but making it less obvious over time so that eventually they are not even aware of your presence. This is what I base my sleep plans and support on and think that parent assisted changes make for the perfect balance between loving boundaries and loving support from you.
You may need to try different methods to find the one that works best for your baby and for you. Do not simply expect that what worked for a previous child will work with the baby you are currently training to sleep. Be prepared to adapt and change routines and methods until you settle on what works the best. My best tip is to decide on a method, make a plan, try it for one week, take notes to see any positive changes (even small ones), and then decide if it’s working for you and your baby.
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: JUNE 24, 2019
Think to yourself for a moment — on average, how many hours do you sleep per night?
According to a report put out by the World Association of Sleep Medicine, the majority of Canadians are sleep deprived. 60% of adults feel tired most of the time, getting an average of 6.9 hours of sleep per night, with the recommended being 8 . The same trend continues in the United States and most modern societies.
Everyone knows that sleep is important, but the reality is that not many of us actually get what we need. We’re too busy with work, family, sports, or even just Netflix, to give our body’s the rest they need. But if you’re looking to improve your body composition and your overall health, getting enough sleep is critical.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is the time when the body repairs itself. It gives us an opportunity to relax, shut down body systems into low power mode, and focus on repair and restoration. Specifically, here are 7 reasons why adequate sleep is key:
1. Improves productivity, concentration, and memory
2. Maximizes athletic performance
3. Improves immune function
4. Decreases risk of developing heart disease and stroke
5. Improves glucose metabolism and decreases risk of type 2 diabetes
6. Decreases levels of inflammation
7. Boosts mood
But the one other thing that sleep is incredibly important for is maintaining a healthy weight and body composition. As sleep regulates our hormones, lack of sleep can cause imbalances, which may result in weight gain.
How sleep and weight are related
Poor or inadequate sleep is one of the leading risk factors in the development of obesity. Studies have shown that both children and adults with short sleep durations are significantly more likely to become obese [2, 3].
But why is this?
Our bodies are largely controlled by hormones — chemical messenger secreted by endocrine glands that influence most major body functions, which includes how we use and store energy. They also mediate the interactions between sleep, metabolism, and BMI.
The two main hormones that control our hunger, leptin and ghrelin, are highly influenced by sleep patterns. Leptin is a hormone that is released from fat cells that signals to the brain, the hypothalamus specifically, that you have enough energy and don’t need to eat; it functions mainly to prevent humans from starvation of overeating. The other hormone, ghrelin, is an appetite-increasing hormone that’s function is regulated primarily by food intake; it acts on the hypothalamus, as well, to stimulate hunger.
A study conducted on the impact of sleep on body composition showed that levels of ghrelin were higher in individuals with short sleep, while levels of leptin were lower . Short-term sleep restriction lowers levels of leptin, which in turn increases levels of ghrelin . When you don’t sleep enough, cortisol levels also increase. Cortisol is the stress hormone that is frequently associated with fat gain, but it helps to activate reward centers in your brain that make you crave food, too. A combination of high ghrelin and high cortisol inhibits communication to the areas of the brain that leave you feeling satisfied after a meal , meaning you’re never quite feeling full and continue to crave low quality foods.
Combining all of these factors, we leave ourselves at a higher risk for gaining weight and being unable to lose it.
Additionally, hypothalamic-pituitary functions that control eating habits, energy balance, and metabolism are all tied to circadian rhythms, meaning they are highly integrated with sleep regulation processes. Experiments have demonstrated that lack of sleep has important effects on cortisol levels, glucose tolerance, and growth hormone secretion . Therefore, when hormone balance is off, we put ourselves at higher risk for weight gain because we are tired.
Putting it all together
Not only does lack of sleep affect your body’s basic functions, but it also probably means your energy levels aren’t quite as they should be. When we have low energy, we are less productive and have less motivation to partake in activities, whether that be the gym or simply doing work around the house. And we all know that lack of movement and activity is a large contributor to weight gain.
So while we may fall off the proper sleep train every now and again, it’s crucial to get your sleep habits under control. Limit exposure to blue light 2-3 hours before bed, ensure your room is at a slightly cooler temperature, make sure there are no lights around, and relax the mind and body — all of which prepare the body for a deep, relaxing, and restorative sleep.
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: MARCH 11, 2019
I’m not into fad diets and for years I scoffed at “going gluten-free.” I never wanted to be “that” person when we went to dinner but it turns out, it’s well worth being “that” person. I’ll give you a bit of background about myself. As a luge athlete I was supposed to gain weight, yes, you read that correctly, gain weight. Most people try to lose weight and I was always trying to gain it by lifting heavy and eating a lot of food. Back in my athletic days it was still a thing to “carbo load” and eat as much pasta or carbs as possible for “energy.” It’s too bad that was a thing because it made me feel awful and when I was avoiding eating that way it came across as if I didn’t want to gain weight or that I wasn’t committed to my sport. When in fact eating that way made me feel like I just needed to sleep all the time and that I was made of sand when I was training. I tried avoiding foods that made me feel this way but it was difficult living on the road and eating at hotels most of the year.
I have a friend who has Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder that results from the interaction of gluten, the storage protein of wheat and other grains, with the immune system . She truly can’t even eat gluten because it destroys her intestines. Since I could eat gluten and Celiac disease was still new to many people, I never thought this could be an issue for me.
Now, I realize that going gluten-free isn’t for everyone. And I should also mention that I have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s disease, which is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid. It can cause you to feel extremely tired, gain weight, and affects hormone production. I’ve been trying to figure out my health for years along with trying to get rid of migraines. I don’t even like saying, typing or thinking that word because they are so horrible. But it turns out that having this condition can lead to having sensitives to gluten or other carbohydrates.
Fast forward several years, well out of my athletic days, and I read a book called Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD to learn more about gut bacteria and the book addressed many issues I was having, which included stomach problems, occasional reflux, feeling low often, and crazy brain fog. I wasn’t reading it to learn about going gluten-free but the book convinced me enough to stop eating gluten right before a trip to Italy, the land of gluten filled dishes of pasta and pizza, and nine months later I’m still gluten-free and won’t even think about going back. Although there’s more to my story, I’ll keep it short and tell you about the benefits that you can also get from going gluten-free and being “that” person even if you don’t think gluten affects you.
Why gluten has such a bad rep
The term gluten refers to the entire protein component of wheat, rye, and barley — the three gluten-containing grains. Gliadin, the component of gluten that contains the majority of toxins, are resistant to degradation by the protein enzymes in the stomach, pancreas, and intestines . When these undigested particles are able to permeate through the barriers of the gastrointestinal system, they react with antigen-presenting cells and cause a multitude of health problems.
Even if there is minimal reaction to gluten consumption, the molecule itself is poorly absorbed in the human upper gastrointestinal tract, which is why many people choose to avoid consuming it.
But if gluten doesn’t bother you, why should you give it up?
Maybe to your surprise, there are actually quite a few benefits to giving up gluten. While you think consuming gluten may only affect your digestion, it actually has an effect on the nervous, muscular, lymphatic, digestive, and endocrine system .
So here is why you may want to consider going gluten-free:
Decreases brain fog
Often times, people will experience brain fog from consuming gluten (even if they don’t know that is what causes it). Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, decreased attention, inability to recall, and forgetfulness. This is because inflammation caused by gluten contributes to the breakdown of the protective barrier between the blood and the brain, which can lead to damage of brain tissue.
Improves joint pain
Gluten is a known perpetrator of inflammation, which is a significant factor associated with joint pain. When the body isn’t perpetually inflamed, the acute response to inflammation becomes much more efficient, meaning that joint pain and recovery time improve.
Helps regulate weight
Leaky gut, a condition where small micro tears in the intestinal lining cause permeability, is a well-known condition associated with high gluten intake. By removing gluten from the diet, you improve intestinal permeability, nutrient absorption, and decrease inflammation, all of which contribute to weight regulation. It also helps to normalize metabolism and hunger hormones, and thus, normalize weight .
Due to damage of the intestinal wall, GI symptoms like gas and bloating are often a common side effect of gluten. Removing gluten from the diet can help to heal and repair the gut and intestinal lining, leading to decreased GI symptoms.
Improves appearance of skin
More often than not, inflammation can show up on the skin in the form of acne, eczema, and dry skin . By cutting out the root cause(s) of inflammation, we can improve the appearance of our skin and get back that glow!
Is it something for you?
An important point to remember when going gluten free is just because you’ve given up eating gluten, it doesn’t give you any excuse to replace the ‘bad’ foods with their gluten-free counterparts. There are many options now in grocery stores but try to replace the gluten-filled foods with healthier alternatives as much as you can. For example, replace whole wheat or white pasta with veggie noodles — zucchini or squash noodles make for an excellent substitution in classic spaghetti dishes. Not only are you upping your vegetable intake, but you’re also getting a bigger nutrient bang for your buck!
Plus, there are many other grains you can eat instead and they are full of better nutrients than white or wheat flour. These include amaranth buckwheat (not actually wheat!), rice (brown, white or wild), millet, quinoa, and oats. But a note about oats, be sure they are gluten-free as many are made in factories that produce other wheat produces and may contain traces of it.
So while cutting out gluten may seem like the end of the world at first (believe me it’s not!), keep in mind your end goal. When you remove foods from the diet that aren’t giving with your body, not only will you look better, but you’ll also feel better, which is the most important factor. I encourage you to give it a try for one month and see how you feel!
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: FEBRUARY 20, 2019
The many benefits of passive heat treatment
First, what exactly is passive heat treatment? Simply put, passive heat treatment includes:
The most notable types of heat therapy used are saunas, steam rooms, and hot baths. While they may be based off of similar concepts, the functions and benefits of both are somewhat different. So first, let’s cover what they are and why they’re so great.
Hydrotherapy is something that’s been practiced for centuries. Whether hot or cold, bathing offers many significant benefits. But here, we’re going to focus on heat as a method of treating various ailments.
Besides sitting in the comfort of a warm tub, hot baths are actually great for the body. Here are a few reasons why :
Steam rooms are pretty much as they sound — a room, usually made from tiles, that produces steam to 90-100% humidity. Since heat rises, sitting at a higher level in a steam room will provide greater benefits than sitting at a lower level. Like hot baths, steam rooms offer several of the same benefits:
Now that you’ve learned about a couple other forms of passive heat treatment, we can get to one of my new favorites — saunas. Touted for their wide range of health benefits, saunas have recently become a common thing to incorporate into a daily routine. If you’ve ever been to a Scandinavian country, you’ll see that saunas are extremely popular — and for good reason!
Saunas are essentially a wood lined room that emits either dry heat or wet heat. Perhaps the most well known is the Finnish sauna — a room heated with a sauna stove and filled with stones that are heated by either electricity or fire.
While being popular within northern Europe countries initially, saunas are a regular practice throughout the world. If you’re wondering why they’re so highly prized, here are some reasons:
But why heat therapy?
Thermotherapy is a great option to help heal non-inflammatory body pain. This is because heat is great for inducing relaxation of muscles and dilating blood vessels through raising nitric oxide levels, a potent vasodilator, to promote greater blood circulation.
Conditions that a sauna might be beneficial for include:
It’s crucial to remember that heat is not good for certain conditions and may make them worse. This includes things like severe injuries or infections and acute inflammation as in the case of an arthritis flare up. For conditions involving inflammation, it’s best to use ice. If you’re using a sauna to help release tension in muscles, it’s also imperative to know the different between muscle strains and ‘knots’. Strains indicate an actual injury to the muscle (a small tear) that a sauna will not fix, while knots are small patches of tender tissue usually caused my micro-spasms that often need pressure to be released.
Passive heat treatment is an excellent way to help relieve and treat several conditions. While hot baths are the cheapest and likely most convenient method, a sauna, whether it be infrared, Finnish, or electrically heated, offers numerous health benefits both externally and internally. So next time you visit a gym or spa that offers a sauna, be sure to strip down and hop in!
BY COURTNEY LANDIN
POSTED: JANUARY 29, 2019