A nap is as good as a night

October 28, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

Napping. A topic that is very close to my heart. As can be seen by this photo, I’ve been napping since 1985. And if napping was good enough for Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, it’s good enough for me.

Research shows that an afternoon nap refreshes your brain and makes you more likely to learn new information. According to Nature Neuroscience, the learning of perceptual skills has been shown in some cases to depend on the plasticity of the visual cortex, which means how your brain changes, learns and remembers stuff. This is best achieved post sleep.

It was reported that sleep-dependent learning of a “texture discrimination task” can be accomplished in humans by brief (60−90 minute) naps containing both slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This nap-dependent learning closely resembled that previously reported for an 8 hour night of sleep in terms of magnitude, sleep-stage dependency and retinotopic specificity. Thus, from the perspective of behavioural improvement, a nap is as good as a night of sleep for learning during perceptual tasks.

But long naps have a temporary disadvantage: they cause what researchers call “sleep inertia”, a grogginess upon awakening that can last about half an hour. Also, long naps can affect the body’s clock, making it more difficult to wake up at the proper time in the morning. Therefore, speaking from vast experience, for optimal results I always found it better to set an alarm clock and nap for no longer than 15-30 minutes, depending on the deprivation of the night before or the pending task post nap.

Reference:

Mednick, S. et al. Sleep-dependent learning: a nap is as good as a night. Nature Neuroscience. 2003. 6: 697-698.

High blood pressure: Special chiropractic report

October 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

Blood pressure is on the rise. And managing the condition is multi factorial from lifestyle, to dietary, to emotional, to pharmacological and non-pharmacological. The purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on the neurological implications of a specific chiropractic adjustment and why chiropractic should be included in the management of such cases.

Firstly, is high blood pressure a disease? No. High blood pressure is a window to the function of the nervous system. It’s like looking at the dashboard of your vehicle and seeing the rev counter hovering in the red at 6,000 RPM – but attempting to treat it by placing a smiley sticker over the dash instead of addressing the engine beneath it.  High blood pressure is a reflection of the stress the nervous system is under and undulates according to the ebbs and flows of your environmental stressors. Your heart changes its beat in accordance with life’s undulating challenges.

Why are there so many different blood pressure medications? The blanket “napalm” approach to lowering blood pressure is simply a test-and-measure procedure to see which chemical manipulates the system best, achieving a desired “number” or systolic pressure, and then claiming the system is now healthy. There are a score of different antihypertensive drugs on the market, falling into the broad categories of drugs that narrow blood vessels, widen blood vessels, affect the kidneys, slow down the heart muscle, or reduce nerve signals going to the heart.

Click here to read Don’s high blood pressure chiropractic story.

The sneaky bastard… Read more

Steps to improve your sleep routine

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

Want to get smart? Get more sleep. Sleep plays an imperative role in cognitive function. Sleep allows the brain to juggle the input of new information. Individuals who lose even small amounts of sleep on a daily basis show progressive impairment of cognitive performance and elevation of C-reactive protein (inflammation). Here are some ways to improve your rapid eye movement (REM) time:

Establish a bedtime routine to help your body and mind relax. Just like children thrive on a consistent bedtime routine, you can too. Watch your favourite TV series every night before bed, read a chapter of a book or do the same night time bathroom routine. This consistency will signal your brain that it’s time to go to bed.

Get regular sunlight or bright light during the day to help sleep better at night. This helps set your body’s internal clock, signalling the difference between daytime and night. As such, levels of melatonin, your body’s naturally occurring hormone that causes drowsiness, rise as darkness falls.

Eat before bed. While it may seem counter-intuitive, consider eating a light snack before bedtime if you tend to get hungry during the night. Foods such as bananas, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and chamomile tea are all conducive to sleep.

Get adjusted. Chiropractic adjustments bring ease to your nervous system, relieve stress and help you sleep better (click here to read Karen’s insomnia story). The upper brainstem has important cells that are a part of our “arousal system” which fire into the thalamus and cortex. Proper firing of these cells occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is accompanied by cortical activation, loss of muscle tone in the body and active dreams. Adjusting the upper neck changes the way the brainstem fires and people tend to sleep better.

References:

Dean, C., et al. 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power. 2009.

Saper, C. B. et al. Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature. Vol 437. 2005.

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