How to pick the perfect pillow

How to pick the perfect pillow

Are you waking tired, in pain or do you feel like your pillow is just not right for you? A less than perfect pillow can result in poor sleep posture, which can lead to muscle tightness, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.

Pain after sleeping is not surprising given the average person spends 1/3 of their lifetime in bed (that is approximately 229,961 hours asleep), during which time they’ll shed an average 3.6kg of dead skin each year, which equates to a whopping 263.5kg in a lifetime! This accumulation of dead skin cells often results in dust mites. Dust mites thrive in warm humid environments (eg. pillows) and a single mite leaves 20 droppings per day (gross). Old pillows also contain body sweat and oil which travel through the pillowcase and can easily breed mould and other bacteria, which can all lead to breathing difficulties. Like most things pillows have a shelf life, the rule of thumb is 2 years, however some materials have a longer life span.

The correct pillow can not only make sure that your head and neck are in a neutral alignment so that ligaments, joints and muscles are in ideal position. It can also help improve breathing and allergies, resulting in more restful sleep.

Perfect pillow
What then to look for in the perfect pillow?
  • It must hold it’s shape throughout the night
  • It must work with your sleeping position as well as the length of
  • time you’re in bed,
  • It must take into account any pre-existing medical conditions you
  • might have, eg. whiplash, frozen shoulder
How do you sleep? Back, front or side

Your preferred sleeping position will help determine the size and type of pillow that is most appropriate for you. As does the material of your mattress (springs vs foam) and mattress base (slates or base), the width of your shoulder, and any underlying injuries.

Side sleepers

The pillow must not cause the neck to tilt too much upwards or downwards and should allow for minimal pressure being exerted on the spine, neck and shoulders. Your correct pillow height will depend on how broad your shoulders are – it can be helpful to have someone check your alignment from behind and even take photos of your posture with different pillows to compare how each one supports your head and neck. Generally speaking, a firm, mid-high profile pillow is good for side-sleepers.

A low pillow will let your head fall too far towards the mattress, not providing enough support for the neck. A high pillow will push your neck too high above the mattress and create strain on the joints and muscles in the neck.

Back sleepers

You need something that supports the curvature of the neck in order to keep the neck in its natural curvature whilst sleeping. A mid-low sized pillow is ideal.
Too firm it will raise your head too far forward. Too soft and your neck will fall back into the mattress.
Top Tip – for those who have back pain, try sleeping with a pillow under your knees as this will take the strain off your back while sleeping in this position.

Stomach sleepers

This is the least preferred position for sleeping due to the load it puts on the neck and shoulders. For those who cant help but sleep in this position, choose a thin pillow or no pillow to avoid excessive tension on the neck. This position removes the spine from its neutral position and creates strain throughout the entire spine which may cause damage over medium to longer term.

Perfect pillow: shape and type

As you’ve probably guessed, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to choosing the ideal pillow. Your age and life stage may help determine the shape (flat, contour, body) of pillow you require. Your preference of material will also come into the type of pillow you end up with.

Perfect pillow

Pillow types:

  • Memory foam
  • Latex
  • Bamboo
  • Down
  • Polyester
  • Feather
  • Water
  • Buckwheat
  • Microbeads

And many more….

We can talk about pillows all day long. If you are after a more comprehensive summary please download our e-book.

You can also purchase from our recommended range of pillows directly here.

Or, if you’d like further assistance selecting the right pillow for you just mention it at your next appointment, or book in for a free pillow assessment with Teille.

References:

  1. https://marksmattress.com/how-often-to-replace-pillows/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dust-mites/symptoms-causes/syc-20352173
  3. Aminoff, M. J., Boller, F., & Swaab, D. F. (2011). We spend about one-third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so. Handb Clin
    Neurol, 98, vii. doi:10.1016/b978-0-444-52006-7.00047-2

The Pelvis: How Well Do You Know It?

The Pelvis: How Well Do You Know It?

The pelvis is a basin-shaped complex of bones that connects the trunk to the legs. It is best described in 1958 by Dr Fred Mitchell Snr (MD, Osteopath).

 “Is the crossroads of the body, the architectural centre of the body, the meeting place of the locomotive apparatus, the resting place of the torso, the temple of the reproductive organs, the abode of the new life’s development, the site of the two principle departments of elimination, and last but not least, a place upon which to sit…”

Dr Fred Mitchell Snr (MD, Osteopath)

Structure:

The pelvis is a relatively closed compact unit consisting of:

  • Paired innominate (hip or coxal). Large irregular bone formed by three parts: ilium, ischium, and pubis. Which fuse together and ossify by the age of 25.
  • Sacrum a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine. Which forms by the fusing of the sacral vertebrae (S1–S5) between ages 18 and 30.
  • Coccyx commonly referred to as the tailbone, it is the final segment of the vertebral column.

Connected via three joints:

  • Pubic synthesis is a secondary cartilaginous joint. Located between the left and right pubis of the hip bones. It is in front of and below the bladder. In most adults it can be moved roughly 2mm and with 1 degree rotation.
  • Two sacroiliac joints (SIJ) join the hip to the sacrum. They are a strong, irregular synovial plane joint connected by 5 strong ligaments. The SIJ’s supports the entire weight of the upper body that are capable of only a small range of movement.  

Importance:

The pelvis has major participating roles in daily life. First allowing us to stand and walk, it supports the entire weight of our upper body. Along with the pelvic floor musculature it protects and holds up all our internal organs. Finally, it aids in childbirth creating part of the birth canal.

Male Vs Female:

The general structure of the female pelvis is thinner and less dense. The male pelvis, in comparison, is thick and heavy, which is designed to support a heavier body frame. The female pelvis is considered oval in shape (aids in childbirth). Compared to the female the male is considered more heart shaped.

The sacrum of the female is shorter, wider, and has a greater curve. The female coccyx is straighter and more posterior. Whereas, the male sacrum is thinner, longer, and is less curved than the female counterpart. The coccyx curves more toward the front of the body.

The acetabular (cup-like sockets of the hip) are smaller and farther apart in females, while men have larger acetabula that are closer together.

References:

  1. https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ar.23561
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482258/
  3. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/502708/7-essential-facts-about-pelvis
  4. https://teachmeanatomy.info/pelvis/bones/pelvic-girdle/
  5. https://courses.lumenlearning.com/ap1/chapter/the-pelvic-girdle-and-pelvis/
  6. https://anatomypubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/ar.23561
  7. https://3d4medical.com/blog/differences-between-the-male-and-female-bony-pelvises-anatomy-slices#:~:text=The%20general%20structure%20of%20the,support%20a%20heavier%20body%20build.&text=A%20male%20pelvis%20has%20a,pelvis%20at%20about%20%3E80%C2%B0.
  8. https://www.registerednursern.com/male-vs-female-pelvis/

What is the difference between Cupping & Gua Sha?

What is the difference between Cupping & Gua Sha?

Gua Sha and Cupping are natural, centuries old medical techniques. Cupping has become more known due to its use in professional sports people. Michael Phelps famously boasted post-treatment marks during the 2016 Olympics. Gua Sha is increasingly being utilised in beauty routines for the face.

Both techniques are used for their ability to reduce pain in both chronic, and sub-acute pain presentations. Other therapeutic benefits include reducing inflammation, oxidative and muscular stress as well as immunoprotective benefits.

Cupping and Gua Sha bring blood to the surface, just below the skin. Gua sha does this via friction, and cupping via suction. This process is called extravasation. Extravasation does not damage blood vessels, or break the skin. However it will cause coloured marks varying from light red to dark purple. It is important to note that while they appear and fade like, they are not conventional bruises, nor are they painful.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha began in 475 BCE in ancient China . Where the act of scraping the skin cleared and dispersed diseases. It was used to treat pain (acute and chronic), nausea, coughing, limited range of motion, fever, and inflammation.

“Gua” translates to scrape, and “sha” to rash, this means after treatment can result in petechiae. Petechiae is the result of a breach in the tiny capillaries just under the skin. This is different from bruising and usually fades within 72-96hrs.

Over the years the tool progressed from using hemp rope and water, to willow branches, copper coins and buffalo horns. Today tools made from metal, wood, ceramic, pottery, or stone (e.g., jade and quartz) are used, or even a Chinese soup spoon as our Osteopath Teille is partial to using, just ask her about it!

It is a mild to firm, unidirectional pressure stroke using a blunt tool to stimulate microcirculation. It stretches the connective tissue and softens adhesions; this helps to improve blood and lymphatic circulation.

Cupping

Originally used in folk medicine from 1550 BCE in ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Middle Eastern Cultures. Also in England in the 1830’s in hospitals to treat contagious diseases.  The cups were originally made from animal horns, pottery or bamboo. They are now they are commonly made from glass or plastic.

The cupping technique uses heat or pump-suction to create a vacuum seal which placed on the skin. This breaks up adhesions that are blocking the flow of qi and nutrients to different parts of the body. Stimulating lymphatic and blood flow which aids in the removal toxins and facilitates healing.

The cups can be motionless, or with the aid of a lubricant (e.g. oil) you can glide the cup across the skin. Some people are intimidated by the circular marks it leaves behind, however these are painless and normally disappear within a week.

Our myotherapist Ricki-lee is a big fan of cupping, why not try it out at your next appointment with her?

References

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/gua-sha#benefits
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320397
  3. https://dantianhealth.com.au/what-is-gua-sha/
  4. https://blog.sidekicktool.com/gua-sha-vs-cupping-which-one-is-better/
  5. https://vitruvi.com/blogs/health-and-wellness/gua-sha-vs-facial-cupping
  6. https://www.ttpacupuncture.com/services/cupping-and-gua-sha/
  7. http://angeladraper.com/angela-draper-acupuncture/why-you-should-try-gua-sha-and-cupping-additional-acupuncture-therapies-that-treat-beyond-pain
  8. https://www.hamptonwickhealth.com/hwhblog/2019/11/5/tuina-cupping-amp-gua-sha-what-is-it

Breast Awareness: When in doubt get checked out!

Breast Awareness: When in doubt get checked out!

This October, as we focus on Breast Awareness month, I wanted to take an opportunity to break away from Covid talk and shift the focus towards raising breast awareness for the early detection of Breast Cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.

Did you know:

  • 1 in 7 women & 1 in 700 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
  • 55 Aussies are diagnosed every day, that’s 20,000 every year
  • 80% of breast cancers occurs in those over the age of 50
  • 1000 women under the age of 40 were diagnosed in 2020I was one of them
  • Sadly 3000 people lost their lives to breast cancer in 2021

As a cancer breast cancer survivor, and a health professional who works with breasts, here’s what I would I’d like you to know:

  1. You’re never too young to “get to know” your breasts. Being breast aware’ means becoming familiar with your normal. You need to learn the look and feel of your breasts so that you can report any unusual changes to your doctor as soon as possible. This can be difficult in younger women in their 20s and 30s as they generally have denser breasts, are lactating/breastfeeding, or have undergone breast augmentation such as implants, all of which can change the “normal” feel of your breasts.
  2. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women ages 15 to 39. Approximately 40% of these cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam/routine is very important.
  3. Young women are often diagnosed with more advanced and/or more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer than older women. There are no routine breast cancer screening tools for women younger than 40 years old, so it is vital that you perform a regular screen and get any abnormailities checked out.
  4. Breast cancer risk increases slightly for approximately 10 years after a first birth. After that, it drops below the risk of women who don’t have children.
  5. When in doubt get checked out!

Being breast aware means routinely undertaking breast self-exams as part of your overall breast cancer screening strategy.  Everyone’s breasts look and feel different. You may have lumpy breasts, one breast larger than the other, breasts that are different shapes, or one or both nipples that are pulled in (inverted), which can be there from birth or happen when the breasts are developing. There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts for any changes. You can do this in the bath or shower, when you use body lotion, or when you get dressed. Just decide what you are comfortable with and what suits you best. Remember to check all parts of your breast, your armpits, and all the way up to your collarbone.

Know what to look for:

  • A new lump in your breast or underarm (armpit)
  • Thickening or swelling of part of your breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of your breast skin
  • Redness or flaky skin in your nipple area or your breast
  • Pulling in of your nipple or pain in your nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • Any change in the size or the shape of your breast
  • Pain in any area of your breast
  • The importance of breast awareness, from personal experience:

    I had a new, painful lump that did not go away. Deciding I should practice what I preach to my patients about getting checkups, I went to my GP and had him assess it. What followed was an ultrasound and mammogram, followed by a core biopsy to confirm it was cancer. That was the easy part. Then came the treatment…

    If you learn nothing else from this post just remember “when in doubt get checked out”. Thanks to many generous donations to organisations such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Breast Cancer Network of Australia who help fund life-saving research in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, the 5-year survival rate is now 91%! But we know that the earlier these changes in breast tissue are detected and cancer diagnosed the better the outcome, and the less invasive the treatment course can be.

    So please join me this October in becoming more Breast Aware – it just might help save your life 🙂

    XX

    Dr. Reena Murray

    www.drreenamurray.com

    References:

    https://nbcf.org.au/about-breast-cancer/detection-and-awareness/how-to-check-for-breast-cancer-symptoms/

    https://www.mcgrathfoundation.com.au/about/what-we-do/breast-awareness/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwnoqLBhD4ARIsAL5JedI8N3NaVhFFkExO8mPW-lfcOMyNTP7i-kYzpjstVhm09Ma0LrKbg3AaAvpZEALw_wcB

    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/breast-self-awareness

    https://www.bcna.org.au/breast-health-awareness/

    Note: Thanks Teille for helping me compile this blog.

    How Are Feet Important To The Way We Move?

    How Are Feet Important To The Way We Move?

    25% of the body’s bones, 18% of joints and 6% of the muscle are in the feet. People often disregarded their feet as an essential part of the body and pay no heed to issues that are concerning them. Injuries and damage to the feet can cause and lead to serious problems in the knee, hips, pelvis, spine and affecting the body as a whole.

    How do ¼ of the body’s bones have such an impact? To answer this lets first discuss biomechanics.

    Biomechanics

    Biomechanics is the study of the structure, function, and motion of the mechanical aspects of biological systems, at any level from whole organisms to organs, cells, and cell organelles, using the methods of mechanics. So basically, for you this means how you move, what muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia is involved in the movement and how any change through this will affect the movement.

    The foot biomechanics can be separated into static and dynamic elements. Bones, ligaments, fascia, and joint surface congruity form the static elements. While muscle function and arthrokinematics (movement of joint surfaces) of the tarsal bones the dynamic elements.

    Static Elements

    The static elements of the foot are the structure of the foot, they allow us to remain upright for a prolonged period without needing move. This is contributed to the passive ligamentous support of the plantar aponeurosis (fascia) and osseous (bony) support which maintains the arch in the static foot.

    The plantar aponeurosis commonly referred to as the plantar fascia. Is a thick connective tissue, that functions to support and protect the underlying vital structures of the foot. The osseous support mainly comes from a beam like action of the metatarsals (long bones that connect ankle to toes).

    These two components connect to help form the windlass mechanism. A windlass is a sailing apparatus used to haul or lift.  The windlass mechanism of the foot describes the plantar aponeurosis tension ability to absorb increased stress. This occurs as the calcaneus (heel bone) and extension of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ/big toe) move closer together.

    Dynamic Elements

    The dynamic elements work in combination and are reliant on the static elements. The foot and ankle movement are complex and highly involved. It can be defined as a closed kinetic chain the combination of movement of several sequential joints and tissue structures where the terminal segment is met with considerable resistance. In this chain the ankle and foot work in triplane movements called pronation and supination. Pronation is the simultaneous movement in a transverse, sagittal and frontal plane or a combination of abduction, dorsiflexion, and eversion. Supination works in the same three planes although it is a combination of adduction, plantar flexion, and inversion. Pronation and Supination are needed to achieve a ‘normal’ gait.

    Normal Gait (Walk) & Feet

    A normal gait cycle is measured from initial contact to the ground of one foot to the lift-off and recontact of the same foot. To walk the movement does not just happen at the feet, there is distinct movements in the joints of the feet, ankles, knees hips and pelvis. As well as substantial muscle and ligament involvement from the feet to the pelvis.

    During the gait cycle, the feet have an important role, especially in the stance phase. When the heel strikes the ground, the ankle is in dorsiflexion as the movement continues the hindfoot (subtalar, talonavicular, and calcaneocuboid joints) starts to evert allowing the ankle to start plantar flexing. This creates a loading effect on the plantar aponeurosis as the foot pronates moving into the mid-stance phase.

    In the mid-stance, the tension in the plantar aponeurosis decreases allowing the foot to be able to shock absorb and adapt through the midfoot. As the foot prepares for the toe-off phase, the big toe moves into extension, which tightens the plantar aponeurosis and assists with supination of the foot.

    Any change to the biomechanics or injuries to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments will alter how you stand and walk. These compensations can create issues up the chain including ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain.

    Do you have any issues that you think might be steming from you feet?

    Teille would be happy to assist you with this.

    References:

    1. https://www.jospt.org/doi/pdf/10.2519/jospt.1985.7.3.91#:~:text=Normal%20biomechanics%20of%20the%20foot%20and%20ankle%20can%20be%20divided,tarsal%20bones%20and%20muscle%20function.
    2. https://www.raynersmale.com/blog/2017/9/5/anatomy-101-the-windlass-mechanism-great-toe-extension
    3. https://www.jospt.org/doi/pdf/10.2519/jospt.1994.20.5.235
    4. https://www.protokinetics.com/understanding-phases-of-the-gait-cycle/
    5. https://www.orthobullets.com/foot-and-ankle/7001/gait-cycle
    6. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Gait
    7. https://www.tekscan.com/blog/medical/gait-cycle-phases-parameters-evaluate-technology
    8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/gait-cycle
    9. https://www.footbionics.com/Patients/The+Gait+Cycle.html

    Top Australian Made Mattress in a Box

    If you’ve been following our sleep series you’ll understand by now the importance of having good sleep hygiene, and how integral your mattress is to achieving this. So how do you know if your mattress is ok or not? And how do you chose a new one? Should you buy an Australian-made mattress?

    We know how confusing mattress shopping is so your local Osteos have done the hard work for you. Both Reena and Teille have spent considerable time over the past few months researching, and then purchasing, new mattresses so that we could give you our honest opinion on one of our most frequently asked questions.

    Ok, so what did we decide on? The Serenity HLP. Why?

    1.They are the only Australian made truly zoned pocket spring mattress in a box.

    Who doesn’t love the convenience of having a mattress delivered to your door, especially during a global pandemic and with increasing lock-downs?! If you’ve even so much as thought about a new mattress then your social feeds are probably filled with ads from Koala, Sleeping Duck, Ecosa or Emma. The question is – are these all-foam mattresses actually good for your spine?

    As Osteos we are advocates for a good-quality mattress that provides optimal support to your whole body, not just your spine, and generally speaking, this is best achieved with a mattress that contains a supportive inner-spring system. A spring system with individual “zones” ensures correct spinal alignment and provides variable support for different body parts: head, shoulders, lower back, thighs, and feet, for optimal sleep quality.

    2. It’s different to the other “mattress-in-a-box” brands

    It’s a therapeutic mattress. They have taken their existing high-quality therapeutic mattress that has been in production for 30 years, refined it and created an ‘in-the-box’ option. It has been designed with a team of allied health professionals to provide correct zoned support for the entire body, keeping the body balanced and upright and protecting the central nervous system.

    Using the highest-grade Australian materials in their products, they have been able to incorporate a 9-zone pocket spring system that provides targeted support and pressure relief for an ideal sleeping posture, whilst ensuring that the manufacturing, compressing, and the delivery process does not compromise on the quality and lifetime performance of their mattress.

    As a result, it has gained not only our endorsement but that of Osteopathy Australia.

    Mattress in a box

    See here for more information on how the Serenity compares to other similar mattresses.

    3. It’s customisable: you get to choose your level of comfort

    The Serenity mattresses come with interchangeable comfort layers for a firmer or softer sleep which can also be personalised for each side of the Queen or King Mattress meaning no more arguments between you and your partner as you try to find the perfect mattress. We’re pretty confident you’ll find a combination that works for you both!

    Plus, the manufacturers of the Serenity HLP promise to work with you until your perfect sleep is achieved by allowing customers to choose different comfort layers and swap them over if they find the mattress they have chosen is too soft or too hard. Speaking from experience, the medium-density is perfect for most people, including Reena’s daughter, though Teille personally prefers the firmer density and had hers easily replaced by Serenity at no extra cost.

    4. Its Australian made, using materials that have been chosen specifically for health and comfort

    Serenity uses Australian Grade-1 steel springs manufactured using the right gauge wire and VPF manufactured foams that when unboxed are un-compromised.

    The foams have been certified by the Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) using Variable Pressure Foam (VPA) technology. The VPF process is virtually emissions-free making it the most environmentally friendly process used to manufacture polyurethane foams worldwide. Better for the environment, and better for you!

    Body temperature is critical to a good night’s sleep, and airflow is vital in managing your body’s nightly temperature. In addition to being earth-friendly, supportive and comfortable, foam made using the VPF method is also highly breathable. The mattress’s advanced open-cell structure lets air circulate throughout the mattress, keeping your nights pleasantly temperature-neutral.

    In addition, VPF foams have virtually no height loss, guaranteed less than 2% in the first 10 Years. That is less than 2mm, not perceptible to the naked eye!

    All this is covered with Australian Merino Wool which is hard-wearing and flexible with a textile strength comparative to steel. Wool has tiny air pockets which allow the fabric to breathe and insulate. This means it is an active fibre that reacts to changes in body temperature. It traps heat during winter and helps air circulate keeping moisture away in summer.

    Merino wool is odour and stain resistant which means it absorbs moisture vapour and odour molecules from sweat and only releases upon washing. They have a natural protective outer layer that helps prevent stains and antistatic properties that attract less dust and lint. Merino fibres are extremely fine, making it feel soft and luxuriously gentle next to your skin. The Merino wool cover is removable and easy to keep clean with a cold machine wash.

    5. Its backed byThe Serenity Guarantee

    Serenity HLP is a Melbourne based company. Their mattresses are made by hand, rolled on-site, packaged in an Australian made box and delivered to your door. Every Serenity HLP mattress comes with a guarantee that the mattress is chemical-free and crafted from the best Australian materials.

    • Endorsed by Osteopathy Australia
    • 100 Day Trial and Money Back Guarantee
    • Customisable and Exchangeable Comfort System
    • Free Delivery and Free Returns
    • 15 Year Warranty

    We all know how hard it is to buy a new mattress, let alone one you can’t trial first so we particularly love that the Serenity HLP has a 100-day trial and money-back guarantee to give you peace of mind. Let’s be honest, lying on a mattress for 10 minutes in the store with everyone looking at you is hardly a good indication of comfort once you get it home.  Plus, with our current offer, you’ll receive $150 off your purchase and free shipping.

    So are you ready for a healthier night’s sleep? Click here for more information and to take advantage of this offer.

    Here’s what some of our patients think of their new mattress:

    “Thank you so much for suggesting the “Serenity HLP” Mattress, an Australian-made product. We’ve had our mattress for 8 weeks now and from day one it has been amazing. We purchased the Queen “Medium” which is perfect as we both have back problems.

    We have recommended this mattress to our family and friends, some who have since purchased and are equally as happy as we are”. 

    Grateful Clients,
    Ann & Greg, Wollongong

    Is it time for a new mattress?

    Is it time for a new mattress?

    Our houses or apartments are full of furniture. Presumably, you have a lounge (or two), a dining table, and a bed at the very least. Modern conveniences designed to make our lives more comfortable. I wonder when you replaced your lounge? Perhaps when it started to sag in the middle and you had trouble getting up, or maybe when it no longer matched your decor? How about your mattress? On average we sleep 229,961 hours in a lifetime, that’s ⅓ of our lives spent lying down, on a mattress. When you last replaced the most important piece of furniture in your home?

    Having the right mattress (and pillow) is imperative in obtaining a “good” night’s sleep. A night of good sleep not only has a direct impact on your mood and mental health – we have all woken cranky after a bad night’s sleep, it also helps your body recuperate, your muscles repair, but it also improves memory and focus, helps builds immunity, and helps control weight. So is your current mattress working for you or against you? 

    As a general rule, most mattresses will last 8-10 years. This is dependent on the quality of materials the mattress is made from, who uses the mattress, and how long per day. I once had a patient tell me they had been using the same mattress for 40 years! I highly doubt it was still supportive after almost half a century, and perhaps that was why I was providing them with treatment for musculoskeletal pain. 

    An old or poor-quality mattress can negatively affect your health, from short-term effects of drowsiness, headache, aches and pains to long-term effects such as respiratory problems, spine and back issues, and allergies. Most people think a good mattress is simply for comfort, a supportive mattress has a significant impact on your health – both physically and mentally.

    Here is a list of seven things that may be seen due to an old or poor-quality mattress:

    Pain: this is the most common complaint people have when sleeping and it can come down to your mattress. As mattresses age they start to lose their structure and support. An ill-supported, sagging mattress can lean to back and neck strains, sleeplessness, fragmented sleep, and daytime fatigue.

    Microorganisms & Hygiene: dust mites multiply rapidly and find old mattresses in a haven. These microorganisms can cause skin conditions and respiratory problems such as allergies and eczema.  Bed bugs love old damp mattresses and on average a person loses 0.5kg of sweat/night over time this creates a bed bug ideal habitat. Their bite creates health problems from sleep deprivation to anaemia. This damp environment is also perfect for bacteria, mould, and mildew, leading to skin and respiratory issues

    Insomnia/Sleep Disturbances: waking still feeling tired, groggy, and grumpy. Your mattress may be the cause, an old mattress can reduce the quality of sleep you are getting, lowering your immune system. Over time issues like insomnia can lead to serious health issues like high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.  

    Stress: inadequate sleep directly affects your day, after 1 sleepless night you are more irritable, short-tempered, and vulnerable to stress. High-stress levels can then affect sleep by increasing the body’s cortisol levels stimulating the brain to become alert and awake.

    Snoring: mattresses are overlooked when it comes to snoring. An old mattress cannot support your spinal and head therefore the muscles in the jaw and throat can collapse which can limit your airway increasing snoring. Dust mites, mould, mildew and bacteria can also aggravate sinus issues and snoring.

    Cardiovascular, Immunity & Obesity: If you do not sleep well your heart tends to work harder. A study conducted by the European Heart Journal showed that people who suffer from lack of sleep or poor sleep, have 48 per cent more chances of developing a heart condition such as high blood pressure, compared to those who sleep well. Sleeping on an old mattress prevents you from getting high-quality sleep, which weakens your immune system, increasing your risk of colds and flu and other bacterial and viral conditions. Sleep has been linked to metabolic and endocrine functions, this means that old mattresses promote sleep deprivation which in turn promotes binge-eating and overeating.

    Mental Health: Sleep and mental and emotional health have an intimate and bidirectional relationship, poor sleep quality has been linked to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. Given their strong association, it is believed that improving sleep can have a beneficial impact on mental health and can be a component of treating many psychiatric disorders.

    So where do you begin in searching for a new mattress?

    It’s a significant investment so take your time, do some research, compare the brands, look at the materials used, check out the manufacturer, their reputation, history, where they are made, have they had any changes in the manufacturing recently, do they get good reviews, and do you trust where the information is coming from.

    Or you can just wait for our next blog for our recommendations. We’ve done the hard work and researched it all for you so you don’t have to!

    References:

    1. https://www.elitedaily.com/wellness/your-mattress-is-ruining-your-health/1564996
    2. http://naturalsleep.ie/blog/mattress-causing-snoring/
    3. https://www.thesleepjudge.com/effects-of-sleeping-on-a-bad-mattress/
    4. https://www.avacaremedical.com/blog/mattress-can-affect-health.html
    5. https://www.onebed.com.au/side-effects-of-bad-mattress/
    6. https://www.serenityhlp.com.au/blogs/sleep-and-health/the-impact-sleep-has-on-your-mental-wellbeing?vgo_ee=bG0SFIiR1SJy2yyuBS4nrTuEbK22HhTtAvn%2BC6hLg2M%3D
    7. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood
    8. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep
    9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3632337/

    Do you have good “sleep hygiene”?

    Do you have good “sleep hygiene”?

    Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe good sleep habits. Improving your sleeping hygiene is one easiest ways to help ensure a better night’s sleep.  Good sleep hygiene means guaranteeing that your bedroom environment and daily/night-time routines promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep. Creating optimal “sleep hygiene” should be individualised to you and include: keeping a stable sleep schedule, making your bedroom comfortable and free of disruptions, following a relaxing pre-bed routine, and building healthy habits during the day.

    Good quality sleep is important for both your physical and mental health, as well as your overall quality of life. Significant research has gone into developing guidelines and tips designed to enhance good sleep, and there is high-quality evidence to suggest that these strategies can provide long-term solutions to sleep difficulties. 

    What Are Signs of Poor Sleep Hygiene?
    • Having a hard time falling asleep,
    • Experiencing frequent sleep disturbances,
    • Suffering daytime sleepiness
    • Overall lack of consistency in sleep quantity or quality
    How Do You Practice Good Sleep Hygiene?

    Good sleep hygiene is all about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well each and every night. Optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines is part of harnessing habits to make quality sleep feel more automatic. At the same time, creating a pleasant bedroom environment can be an invitation to relax and doze off.

    It is important to note that improving sleep hygiene will not always resolve sleeping problems, individuals with serious insomnia or sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea may benefit from better sleep hygiene, but usually in conjunction with other treatments. If you have long-lasting or severe sleeping problems or daytime sleepiness, it’s best to talk with a doctor who can recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.

    Tips for good sleep hygiene:

    1. Have a regular sleep schedule:

    • Going to bed and waking up at the same time helps set your body’s internal clock’ to expect helping you keep a healthy routine. Keep it within a 20-minute window of the same time every night as consistent sleep can also help reduce daytime sleepiness.

    2. Keep day-time naps to a minimum:

    • We all need a certain amount of sleep in a 24-hr cycle. If you are prone to have a nap during the day its important to know that this will take away from the total amount of sleep you require at night.
    • If you must nap keep it short (15-30min) and before 5pm as late-day naps decrease sleep drive.

    3. Night Routine/Sleep Rituals:

    • Ease the transition between daytime and sleep time with at least an hour of wind-down activities. This may include: Light reading, a warm bath/shower, mediation, sleepy time tea, ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), sleep casts by headspace or nature sounds/sleep music before bed are all good ways to prepare yourself for sleep.
    • Avoid stressful, stimulating activities – work, high emotional discussions etc. Physically and Psychologically stressful activities cause the body to secrete cortisol (stress hormone) which is associated with increased alertness, not sedation.

    4. Bedroom Setup:

    • A quiet, dark, cool environment can help promote better sleep.
    • Reduce noise – this includes outside noises, TV or electronics.
    • High-quality pillows and mattress
    • Pillow needs to suit your sleeping style – side, tummy, back.
    • We have compiled a comprehensive e-book to help take the confusion out of buying your next pillow.
    • Most pillows have a shelf life of 2-5years depending on the material used
    • Most mattresses have a shelf life of 10 years
    • Also, unsettled pets may also disrupt your sleep, ensuring their comfort will help keep your sleep undisturbed.
    • Limit your bedtime activities to sleep and sex – this strengthens the mental association between your bedroom and sleep.
    • Natural, bright lights stimulate the wake phase of the sleep cycle – avoid bright lights in the bedroom at night and use them to wake you up during the day.

    5. Exercises:

    • Exercise can help promote restful sleep if completed at least 3hrs before bedtime. It can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
    • Exercise secretes cortisol which helps activate the alert mechanism in the brain. To get the positive effects of exercise on sleep it has to be in your daily/weekly routine for approximately a month, and be maintained.

    6. Diet – Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine, etc:  

    • Caffeine has the ability to decrease your sleep quality. It is found in coffee, tea (black, white & green), chocolate, sodas, and some pain relief (i.e., Panadol Extra).Research has shown that caffeine can affect the body 4-10hrs after consumption, with up to half the level of caffeine still present in the body at 6 hours after intake. So best to keep those long blacks just to the morning!
    • Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it is a stimulant promoting fragmented sleep – increasing the number of awakenings and decreasing the overall sleep quality. It is recommended to limit alcohol consumption and avoid drinking within 3 hrs of bedtime.
    • Try to eat a couple of hours before your bedtime and avoid foods that cause problems. Hungry at night? Try foods that are easily digested.

    7. Stress:

    • Try writing down anything that is on your mind before bed, getting them down on paper and actively putting them aside can help overthinking when trying to get to sleep.

    8. Clock watching, Electronic Devices:

    • Unplug before bed – screens and sleep are incompatible; the light disrupts your body clock and keeps your mind active, keeping you awake later than necessary. Try to keep the phone out of reach of the bed or turn it over so you are not disrupted by the light of the screen.
    • Using do not disturb or a sleep app or Apple’s Health App to set up wind down and bedtime routine may help to create good habits and work as a reminder to wind down for bed.
    • Frustrated that you cannot fall asleep? After 20min go to another room and try doing something relaxing (Eg. read a book) until you feel tired enough to go back to bed.
    • Stop watching the clock – this can increase stress. This is the same if at the start or in the middle of the night. If you cannot get to sleep within 20min go to another room, keep the lights dimmed and do something relaxing when your eyes start to droop go back to bed
    Sleep Rituals

    Specific Sleep Hygiene Tips just for Kids:

    • 3-5-year-old generally need 10-13 hrs/night
    • 6-13-year-old generally need 9-11 hrs/night
    • Children sleep better when they stick to the same bedtime and wake time even on weekends
    • Staying up late and catching up on sleep can throw a child off their sleep routine for several days
    • Beds are for sleeping – iPad, tv or phone use in bed disassociates bed and sleep in your brain
    • A child’s bedroom should be quiet, cool, and comfortable
    • Enforce a good bedtime routine – this can include brushing teeth, putting on Pjs, and reading a book
    • Evening wind down should be quiet calm activities, listening to soft music or reading a book
    • Decrease stimulating activities 1 hr before bed
    • Avoid Caffeine in the late afternoon/evening i.e., soda, chocolate, as this can cause shallow and fragmented sleep
    • Put a child to sleep in their bed when they are drowsy but awake, allowing them to fall asleep in other places disassociating their bed and bedroom with sleep making it harder to get them to fall asleep in their bed.
    • If they do not fall asleep after 20-30min get them out of bed and to an activity that will help them get drowsy i.e., reading a boring book
    • Cuddle up with a soft toy of blanket, a security object can be a good transition to help them feel safe when you are there
    • Bedtime check-ups are short and sweet. When checking up on a child the main purpose is to let them know you are there and that they are alright. The briefer the better.

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    References:

    1. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-hygiene#bottom-line
    2. https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/-/media/CCI/Mental-Health-Professionals/Sleep/Sleep—Information-Sheets/Sleep-Information-Sheet—04—Sleep-Hygiene.pdf
    3. https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-hygiene#bottom-line
    4. https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-hygiene-tips/
    5. https://sleepeducation.org/healthy-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits/
    6. https://www.headspace.com/sleep/sleep-by-headspace
    7. https://www.headspace.com/sleep/sleep-hygiene
    8. https://www.choc.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Sleep-Hygiene-Children-Handout.pdf 
    9. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/sleeping-naked

    Osteoporosis: Lets sort out the myths from the facts

    Osteoporosis: Lets sort out the myths from the facts

    It’s no secret that as we get older, concerns about health start to grow for many. Chronic disease statistics within the global population increase with age. By the age of 75, there is a 60% chance of having developed two or more chronic conditions. By 85 this increases to a 75% chance. Some of the common conditions people associate with getting old are osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, hearing loss and eye conditions including cataracts and glaucoma. One very important condition that affects millions of people every year around the world is osteoporosis. Considering it affects so many of us as we age, it’s not always up there at the fore-front of people’s minds as one to watch out for.

    We’ve put together this blog to inform you fully on some of the facts and myths surrounding osteoporosis and to let you know why it’s so important to act early in life to avoid this potentially debilitating condition.

    What is osteoporosis?

    Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the density of bones of the skeleton causing them to become weak and fragile to breaks. It occurs when bones lose high amounts of protein and minerals, particularly calcium. The internal structure of the bone changes (i.e. the amount of bone that makes up the structure decreases) and this weakens the bone. The condition mainly affects the elderly population, but this is a condition that can take years to develop with lifestyle decisions early on in life playing a major role in its development in some people.

    Myths and facts

    Let’s outline some of the myths (and debunk them with facts!) surrounding osteoporosis. We believe a healthy population can only come from being an informed population.

    • Osteoporosis only affects women: Stop right there! Yes, women are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis due to the hormonal changes they go through during menopause. The reduced production of oestrogen following menopause is one of the biggest risk factors for developing this condition because of the weakening affect it has on the bones. Make no mistake, men can also develop this condition. A fifth of men over 50 in the US will experience an osteoporotic bone fracture in their lifetime!
    • Osteoporosis only affects Caucasians: Osteoporosis can affect anyone regardless of race or ethnic origin. The stats show there are higher numbers of cases in white than black people. Research suggests black people tend to develop a greater bone mineral density during the growth stage of life than white people, leading to overall stronger bones. It also suggests black people lose bone at a slower rate than white people as they age. This condition should however be taken seriously by all.
    • Osteoporosis only affects the bones: Whilst osteoporosis primarily affects the strength of bones leading to increased fracture rates, this condition can affect the body in other ways as well. Recovery from hip fracture surgery due to a osteoporosis-related fall can be problematic and sometimes fatal due to other bodily complications such as immobility, heart and lung problems and increased infection rates following surgery.
    • You’re only likely to fracture if you have a fall: Falling down is a common way people fracture bones, particularly if you have a low bone mineral density or osteoporosis. Unfortunately for people with severe osteoporosis, even the smallest of movements could lead to a bone fracture. Sneezing, reaching to pick up an object from the floor, stepping off a pavement onto the road or even a sudden change in direction whilst walking are all movements that may trigger a break in someone with this condition.
    • Osteoporosis is painless: Many people believe that this condition is painless unless you physically fracture a bone. This may be true in the early stages of the disease as there may be no signs or symptoms of something changing in the bones until you experience your first fracture. As the disease progresses, chronic pain can be a big problem, particularly if there have been multiple fractures over the course of a person’s life. Osteoporosis is strongly linked with loss of muscle mass as we age, which leads to further deterioration of bone health. The body loses its ability to support the skeleton and various scenarios of pain states relating to posture and persistent pain following the healing of a fracture can exist.
    • I’ll worry about osteoporosis if it happens: Take no chances. How you live your life in the early stages will affect your body later on. Children and adolescents need to be active and eat a healthy diet consisting of the right vitamins and minerals because it is at this stage of life where our bones build in mass and strength. Females reach their peak bone mass around the age of 18 and males reach it around 20 years of age. After this, we start to lose bone as the years progress. Staying active and being healthy throughout life will help to reduce the loss of bone that occurs with age. The rule is to act early (teach your kids the importance of being active) and continue to act as the years go by!

    There is so much more we could discuss on this topic, but we’d be here all day! We hope this has given you a sound understanding of what osteoporosis is and the importance of acting early in life to avoid this condition. If you would like to know more, feel free to ask us next time you are in for a treatment or a chat, or check out Osteoporosis Australia. Stay safe everyone!

    References

    1. National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2020. General facts. [Online]. Available from: https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/. [Accessed 03 Sep 2020]
    2. GP Online. 2017. Comorbidities in older people. [Online]. Available from: https://www.gponline.com/comorbidities-older-people/elderly-care/article/1440520
    3. Hochberg, MC. 2007. Racial differences in bone strength. Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association. 118. 305-315. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863580/

    Paolucci, T. et al. 2016. Management of chronic pain in osteoporosis: challenges and solutions. Journal of pain research. 9. 177-186. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4824363/

    Why is our skin so important?

    Why is our skin so important?

    Question… Which is the largest organ in the human body? A lot of people think the answer is the brain, lungs or liver when asked this question. When in fact, the answer is the skin. All of the skin combined in a big heap would weigh more than any other organ. The skin equates to approximately 7% of total body weight in an average adult. It’s an incredibly intricate structure that forms the outer layers of our bodies. But why do we have skin? Read on to find out all the cool things our skin does for us…

    Skin purpose

    Functions of the skin

    The skin has six main jobs to do on a day-to-day basis. These include:

    Controlling body temperature

    This organ does a fantastic job of keeping our body temperature stable. It does this in two ways: through sweating, and changes in blood flow, depending on the temperature of the air around us. If we are in a hot climate, our body releases sweat from glands in the skin. The blood vessels that run through our skin also get wider allowing increased blood flow, therefore further releasing heat from the body. This process reverses in cold climates. We sweat less and the blood vessels get narrower, reducing the amount of blood flow which helps the body retain heat. Magic!

    Storing blood

    The skin also acts as a reservoir for our blood. Within the thin layers there are lots of blood vessels which, at rest (i.e. sitting or lying down), hold somewhere between 8-10% of the total blood in the body. That’s a LOT of blood

    Protection

    Our bodies are covered in one big protective coating. The skin protects us from the outside world and much of what it throws at us. Our skin is made up of very tightly packed, minuscule cells that produce a hardy protein known as Keratin. This protects the tissues inside us from heat, scratches, chemicals and any nasties that are floating around. Special glands in the skin produce an oily substance which covers our skin and hairs to stop them from drying out. Our sweat is also acidic and protects against nasty germs. Pigment in our skin protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Finally, there are other special types of cells that recognise any nasties that have made their way through the layers and alerts our immune system to send in the soldiers to kill the unwanted guests. It really works hard to keep you safe!

    Sensation

    Within its layers, there are thousands of tiny structures known as receptors, which help us to detect certain sensations. Nerve endings do a similar job. These sensations include touch, vibration, pressure, tickling, heat, cold, and pain.

    Absorption and excretion

    I.e. taking in and getting rid! Absorption refers to the movement of substances from the outside world, through the skin and into our bodies. We can absorb certain vitamins, drugs (think about a hydrocortisone cream), gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide), as well as many other substances through our skin. Many of these are good substances that we need to live. Others can be harmful to our bodies. Excretion refers to the removal of waste substances from the body. Our sweat is one way we can get rid of these waste substances. We also lose water from the surface through the process of evaporation.

    Vitamin D production

    We need Vitamin D for many processes in the body. It is produced when the sun’s UV rays hit our exposed skin. Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from the food that we eat. Both of these substances are important for good bone and muscle health. This essential vitamin also plays a major role in our immune system function when we need to fight off an invasion of microbes. It is also needed by the body to reduce levels of inflammation.

    Impressed? We are. How cool is that?! Or is it hot…? Oh, whatever ‘tickles’ your fancy! 😉

    References
    1. Tortora, G. and Derrickson, B. 2011. Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. 13th ed. Asia: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

    InformedHealth.org. 2019. How does skin work? [Online]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279255/. [Accessed 15 Jul 2020]