Wellfie Wednesday Tip #138: Blue Light & Sleep

Happy Wellfie Wednesday! Welcome back! This week is brought to you by Diana (@DianaKlatt)!

I don’t know about all of you but I frequently find myself turning off the lights, cozying up in bed, and then… looking at my phone. And then I wake up in the morning thinking “wow, why am I so tired? Why did I got to bed so late last night?” Well, it’s because I was staring at my phone’s screen before trying to go to bed!

We have become so overly plugged into our phones and technology that it’s hard for our brains to “turn off” at night. Checking our phones, regardless of where we are and what we’re doing, has become second nature. I know that sometimes when I am reading something on my phone that I don’t even remember picking up the device. And because our lives have become so fast paced, with constant access to knowledge, I also find myself trying to fit in reading news or catching up with people in other time zones any chance I can get - which frequently is right before going to bed.

And I know I’m not alone in this mad cycle of phone staring. I, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, am trying to keep up with everything and everyone constantly and we can't seem to put our phones down to get some sleep (1). Why is it so bad for us to be using our devices or looking at a computer/television monitor late at night from the comfort of our own beds? Artificial blue light.

So what's the deal with this blue light and why does it impact us so much? The body functions on a system that is controlled by the amount of natural light and dark we are exposed to. This is called circadian rhythm and it's a critical process in much more than just our sleep cycles (2). It is no secret that this light alters our cycles. Prior to the boom of technology, people relied primarily on sunlight for cues on when to start and end the day. People simply spent more time outside. Less jobs required you to stare at a giant LED screen and less leisure activities required screens. All of this screen time is seriously messing with our bodies, especially our sleeping patterns. According to a study done in 2012, use of any of these technologies before sleep can completely throw us off. The use of technology prior to sleep has major biological effects on our circadian clock because it suppresses the levels of melatonin (that hormone we produce - or take - to help us sleep), which in turn reduces the amount of REM sleep we get, which leads to a decrease in alertness in the morning... ultimately impacting not just your sleep but also your overall functionality and daily performance (2).

So what can we do if we have to look at screens for work? If we want to pass time scrolling through Twitter or Instagram? For starters, you can install some software to counter that penetrating blue light. Well yes, that's a start. You could install flux (Apple, Windows) OR you could get some really trendy, blue-light blocking glasses (Pixel, Felix Gray). I highly recommend doing at least one of these things. I actually install flux on all of my devices and it's easy to disable if you need true colors for digital editing. I personally prefer installing something to work on the device as I already wear glasses. Also, the iPhone has a feature called "night shift" that you can put on an auto-schedule (enable night shift). While, it's actually quite easy to help ease that harsh blue light emitted to your eyes, this doesn’t mean all is solved. I still do not suggest looking at your phone when you try to go to sleep!

Thanks for all of the support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@TheFuelPhysio@Eric_in_AmERICa@FreestylePhysio@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew

1. https://www.soundsleepinstitute.com/sleep-tips/cell-phone-causes-sleep-problems/

2. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232

Wellfie Wednesday Tip #137: Sleep & Pain Sensitivity

Happy Wellfie Wednesday! Welcome back! This week is brought to you by Patrick (@TheFuelPhysio) and the topic revolves around how sleep can affect your pain sensitivity.

For starters, pain is a very complex thing, especially chronic pain, and it seldom deals with just a physical sensation. Our brain and neurological system controls a lot of it, and it can be a combination of experiences, exposures, and interpretations of painful situations, whether physical or emotional, that contribute to our sensation of pain. Now sleep, the body’s ability to recover, has been discovered to be something that should be of concern when it comes to pain and pain sensitivity.

A recently published study found that individuals with just a single night of sleep deprivation had a 15-30% increase in pain sensitivity, reducing their pain threshold. Meaning there interpretation of a painful stimuli came sooner than if adequate sleep was had the night before. In agreement with sleep playing a role in pain sensitivity, another recent study found that extended sleep could increase an individual’s pain threshold.

Both of these studies of course have several limitations, but their findings should still be considered. So if you or someone you know is dealing with pain, getting a better night sleep could be a good start. And I know that’s easier said than done for most. Check out this resource by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for some helpful tips to improving your sleep.

Thanks for all of the support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@TheFuelPhysio@Eric_in_AmERICa@FreestylePhysio@DianaKlatt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew

Krause, A. J., Prather, A. A., Wager, T. D., Lindquist, M. A., & Walker, M. P. (2019). The pain of sleep loss: A brain characterization in humans. Journal of Neuroscience, 2408-18.

Simonelli, G., Mantua, J., Gad, M., St Pierre, M., Moore, L., Yarnell, A. M., ... & Capaldi, V. F. (2019). Sleep extension reduces pain sensitivity. Sleep medicine54, 172-176.

Wellfie Wednesday Tip #94: Find a Pillow that is Juuuuust Right!

Happy Wellfie Wednesday! Welcome back! This week is brought to you by Diana (@DianaKlatt).

This pillow’s too high. This pillow’s too low. This pillow is juuuuust right.

     A good night’s sleep is crucial to a good day. Sleep wrong and you feel out of balance all day long. So, let’s start at the beginning. Depending on the type of sleeper you are (side, back, stomach, hanging from the ceiling…) your pillow height and type changes. The ultimate goal is to have your spine in proper alignment. Of these types of sleeping positions, back and side are the best options.


Side sleepers:

Get a pillow that is higher under your neck than your head to help keep your spine straight during sleep. A curved pillow is best for this. If you find yourself tucking your arm under your pillow it’s probably because your pillow is not elevating your head appropriately.

Back sleepers:

You want your head to be at a 15 degree angle. So obviously you should sleep with a goniometer and a partner to constantly check your degrees of flexion… just kidding, or am I?

Stomach sleepers:

Beware! Stomach sleeping has multiple associated problems. Sleeping in this position causes your back to be arched and your neck to be tilted to the side, twisting your spine – both not ideal for optimal blood flow and spine alignment. How can you try to train yourself out of sleeping on your stomach? According to studies the best way to prevent stomach sleeping is to bend the elbow and knee on the side you turn your head towards and put a pillow under your hip and armpit, and then if THAT doesn’t work, you can try to tape a tennis ball to the front of your shirt so you’re not comfortable on your stomach.

     But wait! Pillows aren’t just for your head! You can place pillows under your knees (back sleeping) or between your knees (side sleeping) or other places to help with proper alignment. So how do you travel and keep pillows consistent? You either accept that you’re going to have some weird neck feels or you travel with your own pillow... I tend to go with the first option (which is what has sparked this topic) but I have suggestions for travel pillows if you’re interested!

     Be sure to check your pillow tonight! Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@TheFuelPhysio@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@DianaKlatt@kuhnalyssa_spt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew







Wellfie Wednesday Tip #90: Sleep Phone-Less

     Happy #WellfieWednesday friends! Welcome back! This week is an oldie, but a goodie. Published back within our first 2 weeks of Wellfie Wednesday tips. Eric (@Eric_in_AmERICa) brought up the idea of sleeping without your phone! [Insert gasps and looks of shock/horror here].

     While I know this may sound unthinkable, I bet most can relate to the feeling of lying down in bed after a long day, pulling up Facebook or Instagram, and next thing you know you’ve been scrolling for 2 hours and are having muscle spasms in your thumb. The light from our phones, tablets, and even TV screens disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle in the brain (Circadian Rhythm) and prevents your body from relaxing in preparation for sleep.

     My wife and I personally made this change about a year ago and had both noticed a difference in our ability to fall asleep faster. Since we both used our phones as alarm clocks, we had to invest in traditional alarm clocks (about $30 total), but it was worth the change. Ditching the phones gave us extra time for sleep and improved our mental clarity when waking up the next day.

     So give it a shot, and let us know how it goes! And trust me, that political rant from the kid you knew in high school who you haven’t spoken to in 12 years and the cat video from your crazy Aunt will still be there in the morning.

     Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures this week and tag the WW crew members in your post (@TheFuelPhysio@Eric_in_AmERICa@AaronPerezPT@DianaKlatt@kuhnalyssa_spt) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

- WW Crew


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Wellness Wednesday Tip #37: Get at Least 7 Hours of Quality Sleep Each Night!

Happy Wellfie Wednesday Folk! Welcome Back!

     This week we have a guest promoter of health, Dr. Katie Siegsukon, PT, PhD, who is an associate professor at University of Kansas Medical Center and director of the Brain Behavior Lab. Her focus is in how sleep impacts function and recovery, specifically in those with neurological injury or disease. Katie’s tip this week is to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night.

     The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends that adults obtain at least seven hours of sleep each night. Sleep has an important role in the proper functioning of most, if not all, body systems. Sleep is critical for immune function, tissue healing, pain modulation, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and learning and memory. Without adequate sleep, people can experience increased pain perception, loss of function, reduced quality of life, depression, increased anxiety, impaired memory and cognitive function, reduced ability to learn motor skills, and are at an increased risk for accidents, injuries, and falls. Increasing amounts of evidence demonstrate that chronic insufficient sleep contributes to the development of many health problems, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, and diabetes and is associated with increased risk of dementia and increased mortality. Screening for sleep disorders, regular exercise, and practicing good sleep hygiene are strategies to promote good sleep quality.

     So get a good night’s sleep! Thanks again for all of the #WellfieWednesday support, be sure to post your pictures again this week and tag Katie (@KatieSleepPT) , as well as other WW crew members (@PBernerSPT@Eric_in_AmERICa, @AaronPerezPT@fitnerdaimee) and keep the wave of healthy change going!

     - WW Crew