October 2023

Dive into the intricate science of sleep and discover the biological secrets behind your nightly slumber in this second part of our two-part blog on the importance of sleep.

Read part one here: The Astonishing Impact of Sleep on your Health

Sleep is a fundamental state that all animals, including humans, experience daily. Sleep scientists have categorized this unconscious state into two main categories: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep, based on the rapid movement of the eyeballs. While the exact reason for these eye movements remains speculative, two primary theories exist. One suggests that the eyes move because we are actively observing things in our dreams, while the other proposes that prolonged stationary eye positions could harm them by impeding the drainage of essential fluids, similar to what occurs in glaucoma.

REM sleep should typically constitute about 25% of your total nightly sleep time, while non-REM sleep makes up the remaining 75%. Non-REM sleep, in contrast to REM, can be further subdivided into three or five categories. The simplified three-category model divides non-REM sleep into N1 (the initial stage of falling asleep), N2 (light/core sleep), and N3 (deep sleep). Each stage of non-REM sleep is essential and exerts distinct effects on the body and brain.

Wondering what triggers the urge to sleep? Two independent biological processes contribute to the phenomenon of feeling “sleepy.” The first is your circadian rhythm, a cellular response to the presence or absence of light, regulated by a part of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This “body clock” precisely tracks the 24-hour day, with recent research indicating its ability to estimate time within a 13-minute window. This explains why some individuals can consistently wake up at the same time every day, thanks to an active suprachiasmatic nucleus.

The second biological process involves the buildup of the neurotransmitter adenosine in the brain. Adenosine gradually accumulates from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep, binding to specific receptors in the brain. The more receptors adenosine occupies, the more profound your feeling of tiredness becomes. Caffeine, with a similar three-dimensional shape to adenosine, can fit into these receptors, temporarily blocking adenosine and reducing fatigue. However, caffeine’s effect lasts only 6-12 hours, as it metabolizes out of the brain, allowing adenosine to regain its influence. During deep sleep (N3), adenosine is efficiently flushed out of the brain. Inadequate sleep can leave some adenosine unflushed, resulting in grogginess upon waking.

Curious about what transpires during the sleep cycle? The journey typically begins with the non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) N1 phase, or the initial act of falling asleep, which lasts for about 5-7 minutes. This stage is often described as being “half-asleep,” during which you are easily awakened. Next comes the non-REM N2 phase, known as light or core sleep, constituting approximately 45% of your total sleep time. In this phase, your breathing rate, muscle tone, and body temperature decrease, and teeth grinding may occur. Sleep spindles become active during this phase, believed to play a crucial role in memory consolidation.

The subsequent stage is non-REM N3 or deep sleep, accounting for 25% of your total sleep time. In this phase, your body repairs injuries, rebuilds muscles, and rejuvenates the immune system, including its capacity to combat cancer. Additionally, this stage is associated with sleepwalking, night terrors, and bedwetting. Up to 70% of your deep sleep occurs in the first half of the night.

The final stage of the sleep cycle is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, also known as paradoxical sleep because brain activity in this phase closely resembles wakefulness. REM sleep should make up about 25% of your total sleep each night. Interestingly, REM sleep is not restful; in fact, brain metabolism can be 20% higher compared to when you’re awake. During REM, you experience vivid dreams and nightmares, and both men and women may have genital erections. Research suggests that REM sleep plays a significant role in cognitive function, emotional regulation, and potentially offers protection against dementia in later life. Up to 70% of your REM sleep occurs in the second half of the night.

We all know sleep is vital to our general wellbeing, but understanding the why and how our bodies need sleep, and that fostering good sleeping habits and patterns, can lead to significant and impactful changes in our health and human functioning.

We hope you enjoyed our special two-part blog series on sleep–sweet dreams, #yyc!

Say goodbye to hip pain and get your groove back! Read on for our first blog post for our “The Usual Suspects” series on some of the most common sources of pain, dysfunction, and imbalances.

Know what isn’t hip? PAIN. And yet, we wake up with a shuffle, wince going up stairs, or feel a twinge or two tying our shoes. It’s common that hip dysfunction can cause pain in other joints or areas too—aren’t bodies fun? When it comes to hip dysfunction though, most of us can or will experience something funky at some point in time. “It’ll go away, I don’t have chronic pain,” or “I’m not that old!” are just a couple excuses we tell ourselves to avoid talking about one of our usual suspects in pain & dysfunction…HIP PAIN!

It’s a Joint Effort.

Your hip is no ordinary joint; it’s a powerhouse responsible for supporting your body weight and performing a ton of work daily. This isn’t a simple stubbed toe…hip dysfunction can really dig into your daily movement. The way we stand, sit, walk, run, bend, squat, even how we sleep, can all be affected by hip dysfunction, or can contribute to that hip pain over time. Hip pain can also find you really easily, and it’s usually the last symptom of a bigger problem. Bad posture? Constricting shoes? Maybe you need some custom orthotics? How can you really truly know without looking at every part of your body’s movements and function?

Another fun thing about pain is that it can bounce around like a wayward tennis ball, with our hips being the court, the net, the players, you name it! That’s where a health professional, like your friendly MYo Chiropractor, Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, or Personal Trainer, comes to the rescue. We’re precisely the ones who can assess your pain and movement, understand where its coming from and why, and present a roadmap for health and wellness.

Whether you’re casually active or Olympic lifting, whack movement form is a golden ticket for that hip pain to move in rent-free. Book in with us here at MYo Lab for an assessment, and let’s talk about how you’re moving, what that feels like, where you want to be, and how we can get you there (and most importantly, keep you there). We’re here to ensure your joints are in tip-top shape and that hip pain doesn’t crash your party.

It’s hip to care.

Why are you holding onto pain and stiffness instead of choosing a healthier, more active and pain-free life? Our team of experts is here to make sure you get back to feeling your best and strutting your stuff without that pesky pelvis pain. Book your initial assessment today, and let’s kick hip pain to the curb.

Remember, it’s your life, your health, and we’re here to help you enjoy it to the fullest. So, let’s get those hips grooving again!

Sleep–the magical pill? Read our special first part of our two-part article on the importance of sleep.

On October 14, 2012, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner embarked on a remarkable journey. Aided by a Red Bull-funded hot air balloon, he soared to the Earth’s stratosphere, a staggering 39 kilometers (24 miles) above the surface. Fuelled by adrenaline (and possibly a few cans of Red Bull), he made a death-defying jump, plunging into a 4-minute and 20-second freefall. In this daring feat, he broke the sound barrier, hurtling at an astonishing speed of 1,357.6 kilometers per hour (843.6 MPH or Mach 1.25). Felix achieved more than just a thrilling adventure; he secured two Guinness World Records – the highest freefall and the highest crewed balloon flight.

Imagine having the desire, resources, and perhaps even a touch of audacity to attempt such a record. Yet, believe it or not, there’s a world record so perilous that even Guinness itself no longer accepts attempts: the world record for sleep deprivation. This record, held by Randy Gardner in 1963, saw him go an astounding 11 days without sleep in a Sanford laboratory. While there are anecdotal tales of humans pushing the limits further, Randy’s record remains the ‘official’ world record, likely forever. Surprisingly, this act of forcefully denying oneself sleep is considered more dangerous than plummeting from low Earth orbit at over 1300 km/hour.

The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation:

So, what happens when we voluntarily or involuntarily deprive ourselves of sleep? According to sleep scientist Matt Walker, director of the Sleep Center at Berkeley, the repercussions are severe. Over the past decade, scientific evidence has increasingly shown that being sleep-deprived—defined as getting less than 6 hours of sleep in a night—can lead to a slew of health problems:

Weight Gain: Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of weight gain through heightened food cravings, especially for sweet, high-calorie foods.

Metabolic Issues: It’s linked to diabetes and increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Mental Health: Sleep deprivation contributes to depression, anxiety disorders, and even dementia.

Immunity: It weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to viral infections.

Hormonal Changes: Men who sleep less than 6 hours per night tend to have lower testosterone levels and smaller testicles compared to those who get 6-9.5 hours of sleep.

Cancer Risk: There’s a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and cancer development, particularly with colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Shift Work: The World Health Organization classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen in 2020, based on extensive research.’

Beyond these health risks, sleep deprivation negatively impacts productivity and can even lead to fatal accidents. Studies have linked major disasters, such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster, to insufficient sleep among involved supervisors and staff. One estimate in 1988 suggested that sleep deprivation-related accidents cost over $56 billion, resulting in 24,318 deaths and 2,474,430 disabling injuries.

In the words of Matt Walker during his 2019 TED talk, “Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity; it’s your life support system and Mother Nature’s best effort at immortality.” So, if you’re reading this late into the night, heed his advice: go and get some sleep.