How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Part 1

With the clocks going back at the end of October, it can sometimes play havoc with our circadian rhythm (body clock). That dreaded feeling of trying to wrench yourself from under the duvet and up into action. This feeling could be diminished by trying to ensure we get enough sleep. With the average Briton getting just 6 hours and 35 minutes sleep per night and a worrying 33% of us getting less than 6 hours (1).

Chiropractic Sleeping TipsAlthough there are a few different thoughts on how much sleep we need, the general consensus is somewhere between 7-9 hours sleep (2). Your ideal number of hours will depend on your individual needs and lifestyle but the image from the National Sleep Foundation gives a rough guide for each age group. Sleeping too much can be just as bad as sleeping too little, although that is a problem that few of us have.

Just a few of the negative effects of not enough sleep:

1) Increased Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease and Arthritis

Sleep deprivation increases inflammation throughout the body and decreases insulin sensitivity (this leads to increased appetite which contributes to Number 3). (3,4,5)

2) Decreased Immunity

Not getting enough sleep interferes with how our immune system functions and will make it easier to pick up those seasonal colds and bugs. (2,5)

3) Increased Obesity

We see sleeping as a lazy activity, but a lack of sleep is linked with a higher body mass index and 30% increased risk of obesity (4). Studies suggest that people who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night gain almost twice as much weight over a 6-year period as people who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.

4) Decreased Mood, Memory, Performance and Alertness

During deep sleep our brains move our short term memories into more long term storage. This frees up more space for the next day for those short term memories. Think of it like a computer saving temporary files to a hard drive to free up the limited short term space. So if you are a student revising for your exams, those extra hours cramming all through the night will probably not do you much good. Another phase of sleep is rapid eye movement (REM sleep) where we are completely relaxed as our excitatory hormone noradrenalin is switched off. This helps us deal with stress, emotions and anxiety. If these important phases are interrupted or not obtained throughout the night then we are more likely to be irritable, slower reactions and generally less able to function at our optimal best. (2,6,7)

First we need to understand a bit more about the two systems that control our sleep: circadian biological clock and sleep/wake homeostasis.

Sleep/Wake Homeostasis

This control is the simplest and is driven by time. The longer we are awake the more the need to sleep increases. However if this was our only control we would be bright and alert first thing and on a gradual decline throughout the whole day. So the body needs a second regulator to help control our urge to sleep.

Circadian Biological ClockSleep Patterns Broadstone Chiropractic

Our circadian rhythm tends to fluctuate a bit more throughout the day. Adult’s strongest sleep drive usually occurs between 02:00-04:00 at night and then a small rise in the afternoon between 13:00-15:00. Chiropractic Treatment Kids PooleMaybe the Spanish have had it right all along with their “Siestas”. Conversely teenagers strongest sleep drive occurs slightly later between 03:00-07:00 and 14:00-17:00. So all those ‘apathetic’ teenager struggling to get up in the morning for school are not just trying to irritate their parents, they have a genuine excuse. Adolescence and puberty changes the balance of our hormones making it more difficult for them to fall asleep before 23:00 and thus harder to get up in the morning as well.

These dips and rises are controlled by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the hypothalamus. This special part of the brain controls hormones, body temperature and other functions related to regulating sleep. When you are exposed to light Melatonin Cortisol Chiropractor Broadstonefirst thing in the morning the SCN increases your body temperature and stimulates the release of cortisol, also known as our ‘stress hormone’. This makes us feel alert, awake and ready for the day ahead. This is in a fine balance with another hormone that makes us feel sleepy called melatonin, our ‘darkness hormone’. Exposure to light causes the SCN to stop the pineal gland in the brain from secreting melatonin.

We can start to see how there is a very fine interplay between several parts of the brain, hormones, light, body temperature, etc. Although even today we do not fully understand how sleep is regulated, understanding what drives these cycles and ultimately drives sleep can help us get a better night’s sleep.

Tips to Help us Get to SleepChiropractors advice on good nights sleep

1) The bedroom should ideally only be used for sleeping and sex. This way when you enter the bedroom your body is already associating it with bedtime. If you like to work for hours in bed on a laptop then your body will not associate the bedroom with a relaxing environment.

2) No bright lights in the bedroom. Next time you have to replace a bulb in your bedroom pick a lower lumen bulb than you normally would. Remember bright light, in particular white and blue, stop our darkness hormone melatonin from being released. If you really want to go to town on it then having red light bulbs is more relaxing for us at night time. Bulbs that can change colour are becoming more widely available and will be something that everyone has in the future. Getting thicker curtains can also help block out external light from street lamps if this is a problem.

3) Avoid using phones/laptops/tablets in the bedroom. Not only do they emit the ‘blue light’ which keeps us awake but they will also keep our minds active and cortisol levels high. The recommendation is avoid using them up to 2 hours before bedtime. Reading a book or a kindle is far less stimulating as neither emit light. If you can’t tear yourself away from them then at least dim the back lighting as much as possible. Some tablets even have a night mode where the type is white on a black screen. You can also download software which automatically adjusts it depending on the time of day

4) Avoid too much stimulation before bedtime. This follows on from the previous point, but watching a scary movie, exercising, smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine close to bedtime will hamper your efforts of getting a good nights sleep. Some people feel they have to have a TV in the bedroom. If you feel you can’t part with it just watch something lighthearted and not too engaging. Make sure that the final hour before bedtime you are gradually winding down.

5) Get enough exercise throughout the day. We said no vigorous exercise before bedtime, but it is just as important to make sure you are exercising at some point otherwise we don’t burn off our energy stores and won’t feel as tired come bedtime.

6) Try to stick to the same bedtime and wake up time, even at weekends. Our bodies love routine and this is what helps us get into a nice circadian rhythm. If we are constantly changing our sleeping times the body can’t regulate it as easily. This is one reason why shift and night time workers on average are less healthy. Having that odd lie in at the weekend is going to hurt, but just try to maintain a regular time throughout the whole week if possible. If you are a shift worker, get into the best routine possible and try not to disrupt it.

7) Make sure the bedroom is not too hot. Our body temperature slightly drops just before and during sleep. If the bedtime environment is too hot it can delay the release of those sleepy hormones and prevent getting off to sleep. 60-67 degrees is reportedly the ideal temperature for the bedroom.

8) Decrease noise as much as possible. This may sound obvious, but noise can have a very disrupting affect on our sleep. Whether it’s from outside traffic or other noise pollution or inside from your family or partner you have a few choices. Wearing ear plugs can be a simple and effective solution. Failing this, using ‘white noise’ which is a constant ambient sound from a white noise machine, air purifier, fan or anything that creates a consistent and soothing hum can help block out sleep disturbing noises.  This is another reason not to have a television in your room as the noise is inconsistent and if left on can disturb your sleep without you realising.

We pay a lot of attention to our diet and exercise as we are constantly told that we need to get these right to stay healthy. This is true, but sleep also plays a key role in keeping us healthy. It is about time we dedicated a little more of our time to ensure we get a good night’s sleep.

We hope you have found this guide useful and interesting. The next installment will cover the more physical side of sleep – sleeping positions, choosing pillows and mattresses.


1) Great British Bedtime Report 2013. The Sleep Council.

2) National Sleep Foundation –

3) Sleep Loss and Inflammation. 2010 –

4) Circadian misalignment augments markers of insulin resistance and inflammation, independently of sleep loss. 2014 –

5) Loss Of Sleep, Even For A Single Night, Increases Inflammation In The Body. 2008 –

6) We are chronically sleep deprived. 1995 –

7) How much can an extra hour’s sleep change you? 2013 –


Why is Your Posture So Important?

I am a chiropractor, a humble manual therapist, thus I’ll let you into a little secret well being is obtainable through exercise, diet and changing some of the more harmful habits that we, as a society have acquired through our daily lives. I’m going to talk about just one aspect of overall health, posture, or to be more precise faulty posture. There are very few, if any people within our society that have a good understanding of posture and how we can manage faulty posture. Firstly take a look at the picture below, do any of these postures remind you or yourself or another person that you know? Now examine yourself in a full length mirror, ask yourself how am I standing? Do I favour one side more than another? Is one shoulder elevated above the other? Have someone take a picture from the side, is your chin jutting forward? Do your shoulders roll forward, do you have an increased curve through the upper and mid back? Do you have increased arch in your low back? From the back you can assess your shoulder blades, are they level? Does one blade come away from the spine differently from the other? Is your back straight or are you leaning to one side? Does your pelvis look level and if you look further down are your knees knocking together or is there a deviation at the ankles? Does one foot rotate out more than the other and the list goes on!

posture and back pain

There are ways of changing posture, most of the variations that I see are functional (can be changed) and not structural (can’t be changed). Faulty postural habits that are functional can be changed with advice, strengthening and conditioning programme and manual therapy. Often these changes are not difficult to obtain, but just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your posture change overnight and you will have to be persistent if you are committed to achieving the best posture available to you.

The befits of posture are many, ranging from appearance to improved physiological health. Appearance is important in todays society and can help you achieve a greater level of success, Huang and colleagues studied posture in a study titled “Powerful postures versus powerful roles” from one experiment they demonstrated that role and posture independently affect participants’ sense of power, but posture is more responsible for activating power-related behaviours. In a second experiment they discovered that participants in the expansive body posture condition took action more often than those with constricted postures.

Physiological changes, if your body is not held in a correct manner then many organs can not work correctly. If your shoulders are sagging forward then your chest will be cramped and your lungs will not be able to expand fully, preventing you from obtaining enough oxygen. A slumped posture will increase pressure on the digestive system preventing healthy digestion from occurring. This will also put strain on the muscles and ligaments of your back which will increase the chances of acquiring back pain. A poor posture will result in muscle aches, weakened ligaments, stressed and painful joints, cramped organs, poor blood and lymph flow and a general feeling of lethargy due to reduced oxygen content within the blood.

Healthy body posture can be achieved by re-education of faulty postural muscles and increasing joint mobility. At West Wickham Chiropractic Health Centre we have a strong team of people that can assist with setting you on the road to improved posture and with that an increase in your well being and potential success in life. Thank you for reading and I hope that I have gone someway to getting you on the road to better posture!

Shoulder Pain – Self help

Shoulder pain – what you can try at home

Firstly modify your activity, relative rest will help! Don’t “push through it” as this can stress the tendon further leading to a greater risk of further damage.

The aims of the treatment are

to reduce the stress on the tendon(s) so that your body can try and heal the area.
to break the pain cycle. Change things!

How to reduce the stress on the tendon

If possible, stop the activity that causes pain or find a different way of doing it.

For example, you may find that you tend to use your arm at shoulder height. Try to avoid this by raising yourself up (i.e. using steps for sustained overhead activities).

Another common movement that aggravates shoulder impingement is raising your arm with the elbow twisted outwards. Try keeping the elbow in and then raise your arm, palms up to the ceiling, so you are trying to clap your hands up overhead, similar to a waiter balancing a tray on their palm. Is this less painful? It may feel extremely awkward to begin with – however, with practice, it will feel more familiar.

Remember your shoulder blade is half of your shoulder joint. Look in the mirror, is your shoulder blade lower on the side that hurts? You’ll need a tailored strengthening progrmme with which we can help.
Think about your posture – try and gently ‘square’ your shoulder blades, keeping your elbows and body still.

In addition, try sitting with your arm by your side, with the elbow propped on an arm rest. This will tend to keep the shoulder blade up.

• If you are involved in a sport/profession using repetitive movements, seek expert advice on your technique. A chiropractor can give you advice on your movement patterns as well as appropriate stretching and progressive strengthening exercises.

How to influence/break the pain cycle

All the ideas mentioned above can reduce the pain. Specific treatments may also help.

Pain medication (i.e. tablets, seek advice form your pharmacist or GP)

Try using anti-inflammatory cream or gel on the area (from chemist without a prescription, but check you have no allergies or conditions that are influenced by these drugs).

• Try using a wet ice-cube and massage it over the tender area for 10 minutes.

Be Young, Feel Young

What is youth? It’s so many things to so many people, where do you start?

Some people see youth as looking beautiful; less wrinkles, gleaming white teeth, lustrous hair, I’m imagining that a lot of people perceive youth as feeling good from within, well that’s what I’m hoping! Gaining external youth can begin from within, it’s not all about what the surgeon, dentist, hairdresser or designer can do for you it’s what you can do for yourself!

Nutrition is elemental in feeling healthy and looking good, eating a well balanced diet and keeping hydrated will decrease those wrinkles, increase the gloss in your hair and go someway to making you feel full of beans. However a lot of us probably find ourselves stopping at “five a day” and think well that’s me done but there is so much more to feeling young.

Just pause for one second… now consider what does “joint youth” mean to you, is it about not having pain? If the answer was yes then you must think again. Joint youth or lets think of it as joint health is about maintaining the mobility of individual joints before pain or discomfort becomes a daily occurrence. Another, perhaps easier way to understand this, would be to think of the health of your teeth. Do you leave going to the dentist until you have pain or do you go for regular visits to monitor for early decay before it becomes a problem? And do we brush, floss and use mouthwash to reduce our chances of tooth and gum disease, the answer is probably an enthusiastic YES.

In the same way we should be thinking of our joint health, the spine alone consists of 72 articulating joints or facets and when any one of these has reduced movement it has an impact on all the surrounding joints and associated soft tissues. This will not immediately cause pain but in time this build up of pressure will cause an inflammatory response in turn producing a feeling of tightness, pain and possibly heat.

There are some simple steps to reduce the chances of this occurring, much the same as brushing your teeth. Firstly start to move more, I cannot emphasise this enough. “Micro-breaks” are key, you should be standing up from your office chair or moving out of a confined position every 20 minutes. It doesn’t have to be obstructive to your work, just stand up shrug your shoulders and walk around your chair and then carry on with your day having reset your posture. Another key element to maintaining joint health is to stretch twice a day, nothing too arduous just 2-3 minutes of movement. Finally having a regular “check up” by a chiropractor will further increase your chances of maintaining joint youth. Not only does chiropractic offer effective treatment for your joint health we are able to impart a great wealth of evidence informed advice which will increase, not just your joint health, but your overall well being.

So if it’s joint youth that you seek, look no further than our first rate team at West Wickham Chiropractic Health Centre. Why not drop in or call for more information and a complimentary chat to find out how chiropractic treatment would benefit you and your families overall health.

Runners Workshop

There’s a lot more to Running, than just Running!

Got a place in a marathon, 1/2 marathon, tough Mudder, 10km or 5km? Want to improve your fitness and running ability? My Runners Workshop will help, and focuses on…

– Muscular Strength and Endurance
– Injury Prevention
– Running Fitness and Technique
– Lots of advice about long distance running

These workshops are held regularly at Beckenham and Hayes.

To find out more go to or email [email protected]

Regular Chiropractic Care Helps Prevent Back Pain

This is something we have been telling our patients for ages. Look after your spine on a preventative basis to stop more serious problems occurring in the future.

This study looked at whether people who continued their chiropractic care were any better off than people who stopped treatment after 1 month.

Research article

The outcomes showed that the people who continued their care had bigger improvements with decreasing pain and disability than those that stopped.

When you’re out of pain it does not mean the problem is gone and that is why further treatment is needed to get your spine back in to tip top condition. Maintenance care is all about getting the best out of your joints and preventing problems in the future.

Well done to all our patients who choose to have maintenance care. The best investment in your joints and health that you can make.


Bromley Tweet Up

We are always finding ways to improve the clinic for our patients. That is why we are embarking on getting with the times and starting a twitter account. This will enable us to interact with our patients better by giving you up to date health stories and tips on how best to look after yourself.

If you would like to follow us on twitter click here:

Tonight is our first tweet up where we will be meeting with other twitter users in the Bromley and Beckenham area to promote how chiropractic can help to keep their joints moving at their best.

Bromley Chiropractic

West Wickham Chiropractic has been serving the community for the past 3 years now and are always finding ways to improve our care. We have appointed a sports therapist to help our growing clinic deal with those sporting ache and niggles. Ring us to see if we can book an appointment for you with Hossen. Alongside his busy practice he also works with Bromley Rugby Club and Ravens Wood School Rugby Academy.

Chiropractors also have to undergo continued ongoing education every year to make sure there skills stay up to date. Anthony recently completed extra training under Craig Liebenson exploring new exercises to help our patients resolve their complaints long term. This utilises the most recent research on ontogenesis – which is how we develop movements and postures through our lives. Looking at how we learn to move as infants gives us an insight in to how we are designed to move. Our sedentary lifestyles cause us to lose these natural movement patterns which protect us from future risks of injury. If your problem just keeps coming back, have you ever thought if you could do more to stop it. Limited appointments available, ring us to find out more.