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A few weeks ago I took a long weekend; my first break in ages. I needed some time and space away from my normal environment to make a new life plan, as I felt I had lost the plot a little as far as work / life balance was concerned. So I spent 4 days with a friend, at a beautiful spa resort in Sussex. It was perfect. I slept and I ate and I slept and I exercised and I slept and I read and I slept and I was massaged and I slept and I slept and I slept. I felt so good and it showed on my face.

I really didn’t realise I needed to sleep so much. I knew I was stressed, running a small business in this economic environment is difficult, plus there is always some crisis either just happened or about to happen, so sometimes my sleep patterns are disturbed as I toss and turn when my thoughts won’t stop. Now I realise, I was sleep deprived.

A recent study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm investigated whether sleep deprived people were perceived as less healthy and less attractive than people that had had a full night’s sleep. They took 23 participants aged between 18-31 years and photographed them after a full 8 hour night’s sleep. They then deprived the participants of sleep and once again photographed them in the morning. These photographs were then presented to 65 untrained individuals, between the ages of 18-61, to rate the participants attractiveness and perceived health on a 1-10 scale.

Their findings revealed that those images showing the sleep deprived versions of the participants had overwhelmingly lower scores and that those versions of the participants were perceived as less healthy, less attractive and more tired compared with when they were well rested.

So beauty sleep is just that; a chance for your mind and body to rest and recover. And for those of you that didn’t see me in the first few days after my return to the clinic (and therefore can’t disagree with this statement) I looked REALLY good.

Now there are other studies on sleep deprivation that suggest that poor sleep effects heart health, cholesterol levels, hormone levels, the appearance of skin and hair, obesity, depression and diabetes.

Sleep, is obviously, one of the most important aspects of our health and well-being. The average adult needs 8 hours of sleep per night. However, studies show that most adults get a lot less than that, an average of 5 hours of sleep per night (that’s probably all you parents out there). Insomnia caused by stress causes more stress and can be a vicious cycle. So here are some tips for a good night’s sleep.

  • Regular exercise like walking will reduce stress hormones (but don’t exercise within two hours of your bedtime, it may keep you awake).

  • Don’t nap late in the afternoon.

  • Don’t drink caffeine drinks (coffee, tea, soft drinks) after 3pm.

  • Avoid large meals a couple of hours before you sleep. A light snack is fine.

  • Stop working on any task an hour before you retire to bed, so that you have time to calm your brain.

  • Don’t discuss emotional issues right before bedtime.

  • Don’t watch TV or work on the computer in your bedroom.

  • Make sure your bedroom room temperature is comfortable and well ventilated.

  • Keep noise and light to a minimum.

  • Learn a relaxation technique.


Here are some products that have been known to aid a good night’s sleep

  • Chamomile – tea and essential oil have been used for their calming effects and for insomnia relief. Do not use if pregnant as it may stimulate uterine contractions.

  • Valerian – has been found to not only decrease sleep onset time but also promotes a deeper sleep in small studies. This herb becomes more effective overtime, so taking it nightly works better than taking it only on the odd night.

  • 5HTP – is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter (you may have heard of because of the rampant use of antidepressants) which then goes on to make Melatonin that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle (circadian cycles). This product can help whether the trouble is falling asleep or staying asleep. Melatonin is available over the counter in North American but unfortunately, you cannot buy it here, however, 5HTP is available in this country. Do not take this product if you are on antidepressants.

Get a good night’s sleep and chances are you will live a longer healthier life AND look good.

Written by Anne French


Association of onset of obesity with sleep duration and shift work among Japanese adults.

Itani O, Kaneita Y, Murata A, Yokoyama E, Ohida T.

Sleep Med. 2011 Apr;12(4):341-5. 

Obesity and metabolic syndrome: Association with chronodisruption, sleep deprivation, and melatonin suppression.

Reiter RJ, Tan DX, Korkmaz A, Ma S.

Ann Med. 2011 Jun 13.

 Beauty sleep: experimantal study on the perceived health and attractiveness of sleep deprived people.

Axelsson J, Sundelin T, Ingre M, Van Someren EJ, Olsson A, Lekander M.

BMJ. 2010 Dec 14;341:c6614. doi: 10.1136/bmj.c6614.


Spinal manipulation is a commonly used technique used by osteopaths and chiropractors as part of a treatment. Often when it is done it can result in a ‘pop’ sound.  This can be a little intimidating, so what is it?

There are various theories and evidence as to what causes it but it must be pointed out that if it doesn’t ‘pop’ then it does not mean it hasn’t worked!

Synovial Joint

The main theory is that when a joint is manipulated there is a reduction in pressure within the joint or articular capsule. The synovial fluid within that capsule naturally has gases dissolved within it. When this is subjected to reduced pressure, that gas forms a small bubble, or bubbles which form a gas cavity – creating a ‘pop’ sound, as the energy is released. Over the next 20-30 minutes the gas is reabsorbed and the joint fluid goes back to normal.

Ref: Carol Fawkes, Research Officer, National Council for Osteopathic Research Audible sounds associated with spinal manipulation – a brief summary of current evidence.

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