Sleep and Chiropractic Health with Dr Aimee Brown

Have you been to your chiropractor lately? In this episode of The Goodnight Show, we're bringing you a chiropractor's tips for a good night's sleep! Dr Aimee Brown, a holistic chiropractor, joins Shea to chat about both the physical and emotional components of wellbeing and they can manifest in the body. She shares with us the ways she addresses poor sleep as a chiropractor, how important it is to find the right pillow, sleep rituals, and how to combat difficulty sleeping.

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Keen to learn more from Aimee but haven't had the chance to listen? Read the interview below!


Shea: Hello and welcome to the Goodnight Show. Many of us see our chiropractor when we have aches and pains. But have you ever thought to ask your chiropractor for their tips on getting a good night's sleep? In today's episode I'm joined by Dr Amy Brown to do just that as she shares with us her chiropractic tips for a good night's sleep. Amy has 12 years experience in holistic health and has supported many patients who have sought her out for sleep difficulties at her clinic in Perth. I am really looking forward to having this chat today with Amy Brown who is a holistic chiropractor. I always like to ask the guests questions about all types of topics, but today we're really specifically honing into how holistic chiropractic services can really help with sleep and looking at what might be out of alignment with your body. What are some simple tips that Amy has to look at getting a really good comfortable sleep. And Amy, the first question I'd love to ask is how did you sleep last night?


Aimee: I slept really well last night I was in bed by nine o'clock, asleep by 9:30 did not get woken up by any children or anything, slept right through until the alarm went off at five o'clock. So it was amazing

Shea: Fabulous and are you generally a good sleeper?

Aimee: Yeah, I am like I always have the odd night where there's obviously brain has a bit of a struggle to shut off, but overall I do class myself as a pretty good sleeper. So very lucky in that sense.

Shea: Perfect. And I'm sure that that is a question that you would get asked a lot in your practice about the brain being able to shut off and the multi mind racing so we can touch on some of those things a bit later. But first of all, I'd love you to introduce yourself and just tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and what you're doing.

Aimee: Yes, so I am Aimee, I'm a holistic chiropractor in Perth. I have been in business as a chiropractor for over 12 years now, also a trained personal trainer. I am a mom of three kids, they are 5, 7 and 9. I have an amazing husband and in my spare time I run ultra marathons. So I just describe it like I like to run further than people like to drive. So yeah, very, very busy. And so that's my whole thing is just showing people that you can be busy and you can fit health into your life and just do lots of simple things and they, that adds up and has a big impact on your health overall.

Shea: And what was the last ultra marathon that you ran?

Aimee: The last ultra marathon I did was a few months ago and that was a 50 mile event up in the Perth Hills. So it was just great to get out in nature. Lots of Crazy Hills, which are not so much fun and in training to do a couple of 200 mile events next year.

Shea: And do you train every day?

Aimee: I normally have a couple of rest days a week, so two rest days because I don't want to over train. I have a really good coach that sort of make sure we have a good balance between getting enough training in, but also enough rest and recovery as well.

Shea: Absolutely. And talking about recovery, sleep is obviously very important to you, not only being a holistic chiropractic, but also for the training. So in terms of looking at holistic health, how important is sleep in your opinion?

Aimee: Sleep is huge. It's something I talk about with all of my clients. You just, it's when your body heals and recovers and so if you're not getting good either, a good amount of sleep. And also looking at the quality of sleep, then your body is just not healing and recovering and that's everything from organs, joints, muscles, your brain is a huge one as well. So we really need to make sure we get enough sleep and getting good quality sleep so that our body can do all of that healing and recovery and repair. So they've got everything that we need to get up and do our normal days.

Shea: Do you find in your clinic, is there one or two questions that you can get asked regarding sleep repetitive li like is there something that a lot of people seem to come in and talk about or are they more individual things?

Aimee: A lot of it is individual. I think one of the biggest questions is always about what position people should be sleeping in. And then that comes down to a lot of talk about pillows as well as the other hot topic with sleep and then just simply how much sleep they should be getting. We always ask all of our clients, they sort of rate their sleep and then it's a really interesting discussion about how many hours they get and whether it's good quality or not, which then goes into sort of their sleeping position and things from there.

Shea: You know when it comes to sleep, we both know that it is very personalised. So what works for one doesn't necessarily work for all. But what are some of your guidelines when it comes to sleeping positions and then I'd also love to talk about pillows?

Aimee: Yeah. Perfect. Sleeping on your stomach. We all know is not ideal. That's the one that most people say I'm a tummy sleep but that's not great because it just doesn't support the curves in your neck and your spine doesn't put you into a great position. So obviously in terms of positioning side or back is always best, but when if you're sleeping on your side, we also need to make sure that you're not putting a big twist and rotation through your low back and your pelvis as well because that will often happen. So making sure that sometimes we need to pop a pillow or a support between people's knees to stop that from happening. And then also making sure that sneaky arm doesn't sneak up and go under the pillow will rotate through as well because that can put a lot of pressure on people's shoulders too. So yeah, always back is best and then side and your tummy's sort of our least favourite position for people to sleep in.

Shea: One of the things that I often get recently, probably more so is I'm rotate between aside and a back sleeper, but I definitely wake up often in the middle of the night generally a couple of times with pins and needles in my arms. So I think my arms are above my head when that's happening. So that's obviously not a great thing.

Aimee: No, that's not a great thing and look obviously without knowing everything about you, it's really hard to say what's going on. But typically if it is in a sleep position, your arms might be up, it can be a circulation thing. So simply your arms being above your heart or maybe it is that you're crushing sort of or sleeping in the wrong position with your shoulder and your neck which is putting pressure on to those nerves which is what may be causing the symptoms down the arm as well. So either way it's not an ideal situation and maybe you need to look at what you're sleeping.

Shea: So where would be an ideal place? So say you're sleeping on your side, where is an ideal place to start? Like so when you're going to sleep, where should your arms they sort of so say if you're sleeping on your left side you sort of have your arm, your left arm bent and then your right arm bent near it is that sort of an ideal position?

Aimee: Yeah so I just have that bottom arm resting on the bed you can sort of put your hand a little bit under the pillow there so it's sort of like underneath your cheek almost but you just don't want to have that whole like you don't want to have your whole shoulder up and that forearm right up underneath your pillow. So sort of resting on the mattress next to your body next to your torso is the best spot. And then that top arm can obviously rest over a little bit as well.

Shea: Sure. And if you're talking about back sleepers. I know that when my husband is lying on his back he is a very bad snorer. I you know often am nudging him to his side. So is that, you know, the snoring issue when the back sleeping can sometimes, so, you know, it's getting into a comfortable side position is ok then.

Aimee: Yeah, absolutely. And look, snoring is one of those things where it's very personalised as well. There's lots of different reasons why people back is definitely incorrect. And you're not alone in poking and prodding and then you're on their side. So as long as they've got a good supportive pillow to support themselves on the side, that's the main thing that we look at and they're not rotating through then absolutely. As long as they can get to sleep and they're not keeping you awake, that's fine.

Shea: So, talking about pillows, great segway. Talk us through pillows. You know often I am talking to people about the fact that firstly we should be making sure that we are changing our pillows at least every 24 months every two years. Yes, Golden rule. I know that I've been to so many places and think, oh my goodness. I think this pillow is at least 10 years old. Obviously, again, it's a very personalised decision. But talk us about what you recommend when it comes to pillow choice.

Aimee: Yeah, and I completely I have to back up what you said that with the 24 months and so many people think a pillow needs to be changed the same time as their mattress, which is just not true. So that is a big eye opener for a lot of people that the pillow life is only that sort of two years what we're looking for mostly or what I recommend in a pillow is having a pillow that has nice contours in it. So it's going to support the curves of your neck. So if you're laying on your back you want to have that nice curve support through the back of your neck because your next meant to have a nice curve in it and you want to support that while you're sleeping. And then if you're sleeping on your side, same thing you want to support that bit of your curve where it goes into your neck from your head. It juts in a bit there. So you want to support that and you want to have the sort of the gap filled between your shoulder and your head and your neck so that that stays in a nice alignment. What you don't want is to have a really soft pillow. So then your head is tipped away to the side or a really high pillow or sleeping on multiple pillows and it's tipped away to the other side. So it's about getting a nice pillow that is fitted to your body and has the contours to support those curves in your net because that's what allows all the muscles to just relax nicely and just sort of sit in there nice way that they're designed to work and relax and regenerate overnight so that then you're not getting up stiff and sore in the morning because the muscles have been muscles and joints have been stuck in a position that they're not designed to be in overnight.

Shea: And pillows can be a really big play, a really big role in people's ability to sleep well. You know I guess this comes down to would you agree that you know if you've got the wrong pillow it might be preventing you from being able to go to sleep or you might be waking up and waking up in the morning not feeling great and stiff and sore.

Aimee: Yeah 100%. And that's one of the trickiest things is people often go out and spend a lot of money on pillows but if they don't have that support and the curves in them then they're just not doing what they need to be there. Still waking up stiff and sore or waking up through the night and can't get comfortable throwing pillows on and off the bed which is really common. I had a patient the other day, he sets up the pillow number nine um wow. Which is just I just think about the amount of money that he spent on pillows which is crazy and we finally got him a good one that he's happy with which is amazing but it just makes such a difference. And when people get on a good pillow they would just honestly walk in the door and just be like, oh my God, I've slept so well and didn't wake up throughout the night and don't wake up. So it's it's amazing.

Shea: Can you share any suggestions and with our listeners around, you know, if they're thinking, oh maybe I need to really look at my pillow, where is a good place for them to start their exploration?

Aimee: Obviously you need one that's going to be right for you. So obviously speaking to your chiropractor, your physio, is there anyone that stocks pillows and has pillows is always a good start. So you can see them. We use the complete sleeper range, which is therapeutic pillows to Australia. They have an amazing website with lots of different ones as well. So that's always a good a good go to what I don't recommend is going to Myer or somewhere like that and being sold to on the floor by someone who doesn't actually know anything about sort of what they're talking about. There's lots of different ones out there though. So really speaking to someone who has some sort of qualification to know what they're talking about and knows your body is always the best, best thing to recommend.

Shea: Great. And in looking at your website, we noticed that you focus a lot and you talked about this earlier about simplicity, simple, consistent health habits. So when it comes to your sleep being a very busy person that you are, it sounds like, what would you say? There are some of the simple habits that you always try to do that you can easily implement.

Aimee: Yeah, I think for me going to bed at a reasonable time and having that set routine going to bed really helps. I think that's really important for all your all the hormones in your brain as well, your circadian rhythms and melatonin to get used to when you're going to bed is really important and getting up at the same time each day as well. So getting your body into a good rhythm. So then it knows what it's doing and when it's expected to sleep. And then as well, one of my big things is sleeping in a dark room. It's really important again for those brain hormones and the neuro hormones for your body to know that when it's dark it's sleep time and if you have night lights on and all those sorts of things which can be tricky with kids in that scenario. But tv is that sort of thing. It really does have an impact on your brain in the way that it switches off and goes to sleep. So that's a big sort of non negotiable as having a dark room and then having light when you get up as well in the morning to get that brain up and going my pillow and I was pregnant pillows but my pillow isn't non negotiable. I am one of those people that take my pillow away with me. 

It's really important and just really taking time to wind down, I have a pen and paper by my bed which is one of my biggest tips that I give to people is especially for busy minds. Either journal will get some gratitude out for the day or even just to scribble down whatever is in your mind and get it out of your mind and down onto paper. So when I'm busy and I've got a lot going on that really helps me to sort of shut off and be able to get things out of my head. You don't even have to be able to read it the next day because most of the time it's just garble so you don't have to turn your light on to right, you can just sit there and scribble in the dark which works really well. Um So that's that's probably one of my biggest tips and simply doing some breathing. I personally don't love guided meditations and things like that for me personally to go to sleep too, I do recommend them for people because they work beautifully but for me what personally works better is just doing some slow, deep breathing, closing my eyes and focusing on that breathing before I go to bed and just sort of de stressing the body and calming down. So that's probably my, what I personally do.

Shea: Beautiful. And I think that a lot of other people can take some really good advice from that because you know, we often talk on the podcast and through communication with our customers that the things that are most effective often are simple and free and what you've just talked about are all of those things and you know, there isn't any one answer for everybody. It is personalised and finding some of those routines and rituals that you've just spoken about and incorporating them and trying them. You know, this is often what we're talking about is just putting them into practice for a couple of weeks and trialing it and making notes in a journal, even around what you're doing and then checking to see if that if that's making you feel good because as you and I know that getting that really good sleep and having your body functioning at its best and most optimal can be the difference between feeling horrible and feeling amazing, feeling amazing is where we all want to be waking up in the morning going, oh I feel so good, I can tackle the day my body is doing everything it needs to and I'm and I'm helping it to do that I guess.

Shea: Yeah, you're supporting it to do that and giving every opportunity to function at its best, which is really important. Yeah. And and just before we wrap up, you know, I think people might be for anybody who's intrigued about, who might not have been to visit a holistic chiropractor or looked at some alternative. You know, maybe somebody who always just goes to a GP to get the advice. What is it that people so when they come to see you, what are the steps that usually happen to address or diagnose the issue, particularly around sleep?

Aimee: Look, every chiropractor is going to function slightly differently. I always say that is the beauty of our profession. What we do in our clinic is we're always going to do a full history. We're going to sit and ask lots and lots of questions and really get to the bottom of all aspects of your health. We're going to do an examination and we're going to run through some tests. We're going to see how your body is functioning both physically and then have a chat to see mentally how things are going for you as well and what your goals are and what you really want to work on and then put a plan together for that. And that will always involve chiropractic adjustments. That's the basis of what we do, which basically that's your nervous system and your spy and functioning the best in what it can and that in itself can help to impact decreasing your stress levels and the impact of it on your body, which can help sleep and things like that as well. And then it becomes very personalised from there. We do a couple of different techniques. We do neuro emotional technique which works again with working on the stress impact on the body physiologically. And so it's all about then personalising it in to work out what it is that you want is are you not sleeping well? Because we need to chat about pillows and mattresses. Is your sleep more because you Had a car accident 10 years ago and you're necks never quite recovered. And we need to do a lot of work on your neck and your muscles and your posture. And then talk about pillows. There is the basis of our appointments which are very similar in terms of your history examination, our chiropractic adjustments and then they become quite personalised from there because as you said, everyone's different, everyone needs something different. Everyone has different goals. And it's all about putting those pieces of the puzzle together and working out what's going to work.

Shea: Absolutely. And what I love about all of what you've just talked about is that um you know, having a somebody who has a child that has a few different things going on medically. One of my big missions is that I want to talk to everybody. So I want to speak to the specialist. I want to talk to the GPS. Everybody is really important to making a decision about how to what's the best plan to move forward. And I liken that to sleep. And I feel that putting all of these medical practitioners, including a holistic chiropractor or anybody in that sphere is really important because if you're not getting the answers from the person that you might be speaking to, currently, there is probably somebody else that can help you get closer to your goals. And I think when it comes to sleep, you know, we both know that it is just so critical. It's the third pillar of health. It's right alongside diet and exercise. So getting that right for you and for your body, for long term illness, for short term problems, including stress and anxiety can be such a game changer for life. And I think that that's such a lovely thing that you're doing in your profession, is really helping to break down and ask all of the really important questions about what's going on for people and putting a plan in place for them to work towards.

Aimee: And it is exactly that. It's just putting that plan and knowing, as Shea said, speaking to all the different professionals. And so if we always say if we can't help you because we can't help everyone. We have a bunch of people that we can refer out to who might be able to help you. And so that's the thing. It's not letting people just go, oh well, I've got no idea then it's like, right, if we can't help you. Try this, Try this, try this, because that's what it's all about.

Shea: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Aimee, it's been fantastic to learn a little bit more about what happens in your space and also how, you know, people can take away some of these tips and think about how they might be able to apply it in their life and definitely when it comes to the pillow choice, I think that there will be a lot of people racing out to find out, you know what pillow is really going to work for them.