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We caught up with Dr. Nick Athens, D.C., of Athens Chiropractic Clinic in San Carlos, California, and a team chiropractor for San Francisco 49ers, to talk about the relationship between pain, decompression, and sleep.

Dr. Nick shared several insights into preparing the body for rest.

Why Is Sleep Important For My Body to Heal?

Relaxing the body increases opportunity for sound sleep and a better quality of life

“The body is a self-healing organism, and sleep is when it does its best repairs. That’s when your body is best at eliminating toxins, repairing tissue, and recovering from injury. Preparing yourself for sleep helps your body repair itself most efficiently.

“Sleeping better improves your quality of life, which often deteriorates as you age and feel the effects of a lifetime of accumulated wear and tear. You have to find a way to get your body to work better, not worse, as you age. I tell my patients it’s about healthcare from the inside out, rather than from the outside in. You should be proactive about your wellness by looking at all aspects of your lifestyle, including sleep.”

What Can I Do to Prepare My Body for Restorative Sleep?

Decompressing the body helps reverse the stress built from daily activities

“Many of us spend hours a day sitting in front of a computer, driving a car, or looking down at a phone; these positions and this lifestyle are hunching our shoulders and driving our bodies forward. Plus, as we age, life naturally compresses our spines. We start to rely on walkers and canes, and we lean forward over them. We need to reverse the body’s direction, particularly when we go to sleep at night.”

Ways you can encourage spinal decompression:

  • Stationary stretches to open the chest. These can be done over an exercise ball, on a foam roller, or with a partner’s assistance.
  • Yoga stretches such as cat pose, child’s pose, and gentle spinal twists.
  • Anything to stretch your body and pull your shoulders back.
  • Using chairs, seats, and mattresses with lumbar support

How Does the Right Position Improve My Sleep?

Proper positioning helps the spine decompress and encourages natural alignment

“I suggest sleeping on your side or on your back. Sleeping on your stomach torques your spine into an unhealthy position and cause problems down the road. Research has shown that you can improve your alignment and encourage your spine to decompress by supporting your lumbar spine and your torso while sleeping. Additionally, some find relief by placing a pillow between your legs, if you sleep on your side. Back sleepers can also try putting a small pillow under their legs.”

To summarize, Dr. Nick advocates decompression and proper body positioning as major contributors to reduced pain and improved sleep.

How Level Sleep Products Can Help Decompress Your Spine

Level Sleep’s patented TriSupport™ mattresses and toppers align the body to encourage decompression and reduce stress, and by reducing pressure they prevent less tossing and turning, leading to deeper sleep.

“Designed for the human form,” each mattress or topper offers three different zones to accommodate the body’s curves and weights. The top, soft zone absorbs the shoulder and reduces pressure; the lumbar zone supports the natural curve of the lower back and torso to reduce spinal strain; and the medium zone reduces pressure on hips and equalizes pressure across the body.

The ergonomic, patent-pending Restore™ Pillow provides natural neck and spine alignment. Its Ergonomic Support Center enables the sleeper’s head to recline at the proper angle when sleeping on his or her back, decompressing the cervical spine, opening up airways and reducing snoring. The unique ear wells and adjustable heights help side sleepers to position their head at the correct neck angle while reducing pressure on the face and ears. The pillow improves upon an earlier design clinically proven to reduce snoring up by 78 percent through studies conducted at Stanford University.

About the expert:

Nicholas J. Athens, D.C., graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. In addition to spinal care, Dr. Athens specializes in extremity conditions such as shoulder and hip bursitis, knee tendonitis, and Plantar Fasciitis, among others. Dr. Athens is a team chiropractor for the San Francisco 49ers and has also been a team chiropractor for the San Francisco Giants. He has been in practice for 33 years. Please visit athenschiro.net for more information about Dr. Athens and Athens Chiropractic Clinic.


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