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60 1st St  |  South Orange, NJ 07079  |  973-761-0022

Wellness Blog

The blog for South Orange Chiropractic Center, South Orange NJ

By Letting Teenagers Get More Sleep, the U.S. May Save $9 Billion a Year

By Letting Teenagers Get More Sleep, the U.S. May Save $9 Billion a Year
Published Tuesday, 12 September 2017

It’s That Time of Year Again

School’s back in session, and any parent knows how hard it is to get their teenagers out of bed in the morning. According a 2015 CDC study, public schools nationwide usually start classes at 8:03 AM, and in New Jersey, public middle and high schools average an 8:00 AM start time. Most experts recommend that adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 get 8-10 hours of sleep per night in order to have healthy development and higher performance during the day.

Biological Changes in Teens Affect Sleep Patterns

For students beginning school at these average start times, getting the recommended amount of sleep per night would require them to go to sleep at 9:00 PM. However, sleep researchers have shown that teenagers are on a later sleep-wake clock than children and adults, causing them to naturally fall asleep around 11:00 PM. Therefore, waking up a teenager at 6:00 AM to get ready for school is often the equivalent of waking a typical adult out of a deep sleep at 4:00 AM.

By the end of high school, most American teenagers average about 7 hours of sleep per night during the school week. The CDC states that sleep deprivation can often lead to obesity, reduced physical activity, symptoms of depression, unhealthy risk behaviors, and poor performance in school or work. Wendy Troxel, a renowned sleep researcher, says in her recent TED Talk, “In fact, many of the, shall we say, unpleasant characteristics that we chalk up to being a teenager – moodiness, irritability, laziness, depression – could be a product of chronic sleep deprivation.”

School Policies Slow to Change

With all of this research concerning teenagers’ sleeping habits, the American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommended in 2014 that middle and high schools begin classes no earlier than 8:30 AM.  Currently, only 18% of the nation’s public schools start at this time or later. As many districts stagger bus schedules, having middle and high school students go in earlier and younger children arrive later, many officials believe this change would not be cost effective because districts would have to purchase more buses and hire more drivers.

However, the RAND Corporation just released an exhaustive study which claims that changing the start of classes to 8:30 AM in public middle and high schools would actually save the U.S. over $9 billion a year. The study states that allowing teenagers to get the recommended amount of sleep at night would increase academic performance leading to overall higher lifetime earnings, and it would decrease the rate of car crashes involving drowsy teenagers. These projected savings would far outweigh the costs for adjusting school districts’ bus schedules and upgrading school infrastructure to account for later dismissal times.

A recent bill introduced in the California legislature would require a minimum 8:30 AM start time for the state’s public middle and high schools. If the bill and its implementation are successful, perhaps this evidence would kick start a nationwide change that may ultimately benefit the country financially and would definitely benefit our teenagers’ personal health. 

How to Promote Good Sleep Hygiene in Teenagers

According to Slate author and School Start Later California advocate, Lisa Lewis, “teens are often still seen as the root cause of their sleepiness.” While research about teen’s biological sleeping patterns demonstrate that this is not always the case, distractions from electronic devices and busy schedules surely can contribute to sleep deprivation in teens. If your child’s classes begin before the recommended start times, there are still a few simple steps you can take to promote good sleep hygiene.

  • Schedule a regular bedtime and wake time: While many teenagers may be resistant to having a “bedtime”, the CDC says that adolescents with parent-set bedtimes usually get more sleep than those whose parents do not schedule one. This practice is beneficial for adults and children as well.
  • Dim the house lights during the evening: Teens who are exposed to more light at night are more likely to get less sleep.
  • Implement a media curfew: Turn off any electronic devices including cell phones, televisions, computers, and tablets at least an hour before bedtime. Consider removing any of these distractions from the bedrooms as well.
  • Limit caffeine intake: Many sleep-deprived teenagers turn to energy drinks and coffee in order to stay alert during the school day. High caffeine intake, especially late at night, could affect sleep behaviors and quality.
  • Contact your local school district: If you believe your child’s school should have a later start time, get involved! Bring the issue to school administrators or at your next PTA meeting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone’s physical and mental health, regardless of age. Learn how chiropractic adjustments can help you sleep better and make an appointment today!

Running for Your Body and Your Mind

Running for Your Body and Your Mind
Published Tuesday, 29 August 2017

There’s plenty of research and evidence that demonstrates the physical benefits of running. This exercise helps people stay fit, lose weight, and reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer. A common myth states that running can hurt the knees, but even science has shown that the opposite is true! Running actually strengthens the bones and joints. A recent study out of B.Y.U. demonstrated that in participants with healthy knees, “a single half-hour of running changes the interior of the knee, reducing inflammation and lessening levels of a marker of arthritis”.

More Than Just a Runner’s High

While the physical benefits of this common exercise are clear, many don’t realize what great effects running can have on your mind. Any long-time runner will testify to experiencing a “runner’s high”, where the body receives a rush of hormones called endocannabinoids which make you feel good after a run. But there’s more that running can do for your mental health than this short-term high.

  • A 2012 study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that teenagers who ran for 30 minutes once a week for three weeks reported better sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.
  • More recently, neuroscience researchers have discovered new neurons are produced daily in animals’ brains, and that vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running, helped to double the amount of new neurons produced in the brains of mice.
  • These new brain cells appear primarily in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking and emotions. This reaction may explain why many people feel that running helps them to clear their heads, relieve stress and anxiety, and make important life decisions.
  • While these findings suggest that running could help increase new neuron production the people’s brains, the scientists also note the importance of keeping those brain cells alive through concentrated mental activity, such as meditation.
  • A study conducted by Rutgers University showed that mental and physical training, or MAP Training, which combines 30 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of running or other aerobic exercise, helped to decrease self-reported depressive symptoms in groups with major depressive disorder.

Letting Your Mind Run Free…or Not!

Many think of running as a good way to daydream or lose yourself in your own thoughts. In Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, writes, “I just run. I run in void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void.”

However, the time you spend running can also become a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. Mindful running can help you perform better by transforming negative, self-doubting thoughts into ones of positive determination. Also, by being mindful of your body after a run, noticing what aches and pains you have or knowing if you need to hydrate more, you’ll be able to recover faster from the exercise. There are some simple steps you can take to practice mindfulness during your run, including syncing up your stride and your breath, but if you need a little help, there are some mindfulness apps to get you started!

But whether you’re letting your thoughts wander into the void or counting breaths and steps, running is a great workout for your body and your mind. Put on those dusty sneakers today and move toward an overall healthier you!

Sleep Issues Linked to Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease

Sleep Issues
Published Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Nation of Poor Sleepers

Insufficient sleep affects 50-70 million adults in the United States. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call poor sleep a “public health problem”, and many studies demonstrate that sleep problems increase one’s risk for diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, many side effects of Alzheimer’s disease are sleep-related, including insomnia and nighttime wandering. However, poor sleep many not only be a side-effect of Alzheimer’s disease, but also a contributing factor to its development. Over the past decade, numerous studies have indicated a correlation between disrupted sleep in middle-aged life and the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Studying Sleep and Alzheimer's Disease

  • In 2009, researchers from Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis found that sticky amyloid plaques built up in the brains of sleep-deprived mice. Alzheimer’s experts regard deposits of amyloid plaques as the first known preclinical stage of the disease, occurring before any signs of memory loss begin to appear.
  • While observing mice, scientists determined in 2013 that animals’ brains enter into a cleansing process during deep sleep, in which many toxins, including amyloid plaques, are cleared out of the brain tissue by the glymphatic system. They theorized that human brains undergo a similar process.
  • More recently, studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference reported that participants who suffered from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and similar sleep-related breathing disorders had greater increases in amyloid deposits over a three-year period.
  • In early July, the journal, Neurology also published a study of 101 participants who all had known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, including family history and the presence of the APOE gene. The participants underwent a lumbar puncture and self-reported their sleep habits throughout the length of the study.
  • After analyzing participants’ spinal fluids, researchers found that those who reported frequent sleep issues were more likely to have brain cell damage and inflammation associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hope for Early Detection

"Our findings align with the idea that worse sleep may contribute to the accumulation of Alzheimer's-related proteins in the brain," Dr. Barbard Bendlin of Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center said to CNN. "The fact that we can find these effects in people who are cognitively healthy and close to middle age suggest that these relationships appear early, perhaps providing a window of opportunity for intervention." Brendlin suggests that these findings could help reduce the number of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s by 5.7 million over the next 30 years.

Get Some Rest!

A good night’s sleep can do wonders for a person’s mood, performance, and health. While scientists need more research and studies to determine which comes first, insufficient sleep or Alzheimer’s disease, the data illustrates that there is a definite correlation between the two. So do yourself a favor and try to get a solid eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Give your brain time to rest and cleanse itself.

For some tips on getting a good night’s sleep, check out this list from the National Sleep Foundation.

[VIDEO] What Are Your Chiropractic Techniques?

What Are Your Chiropractic Techniques?
Published Thursday, 10 August 2017

Video Transcript - What Are Your Chiropractic Techniques?

When a patient comes to our office, we have a number of techniques to address their issues. It just determined based upon age, has the patient had a current experience with a chiropractor. Perhaps somebody comes in and they haven't had a good experience with hands-on adjustment. We might want to utilize our instrumentation. Sometimes somebody's too fragile or acute. The pain is so s-

 

 

Taking Care of Yourself with Mental Health Days

Taking Care of Yourself
Published Tuesday, 01 August 2017

In late June, Madalyn Parker, a web developer working at the company Olark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, decided to take a few mental health days away from the job. The surprising part: she actually told her boss exactly why she would be missing work. Even more surprising, the company CEO, Ben Congleton was completely supportive of her decision.

It would probably be safe to assume that most people have taken a mental health day or two or five in their lives. Again, it would be safe to assume that most people don’t tell their bosses this. They call in sick or come up with another excuse that is not as stigmatized as admitting you need some time to take care of your mind. Clare Miller, director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a division of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation says, “We know from literature that there is a huge amount of calling in sick because of mental health issues.”

Mental Health and the American Workplace

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in 2014 about 1 in 5 American adults experienced a mental health problem, and 1 in 25 American adults had a major mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
  • Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, affecting 18% of American adults.
  • In 2013, 1 in 6 Americans reported taking psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants or sedatives.
  • A 2016 study by the American Psychological Association, found that only 44% of American workers believe that “the climate in their organization supports employee well-being.” 1 in 3 of those workers also reported being chronically stressed at work.
  • Ninety percent of employers now offer employee assistance programs that deal with mental health issues. Charles Lattarulo, the head of American Express’ Healthy Minds campaign told CBS News, “Our global mental health strategy is the belief that we can reduce stigma, that we can make this a safe place to have a mental illness. We embed mental health into the fabric of our culture.”

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Many different factors contribute to mental illnesses, including biological (physical illness, brain chemistry), social (trauma, abuse), and genetic (family history of mental illness) issues. The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health urges employers to “Encourage employees to seek care when they need it by educating the workforce that mental illnesses are real, are medical illnesses rather than conditions of weak character or willpower, and can be effectively treated. Short- and long-term psychological treatment has been shown to improve work abilities in people with anxiety disorders.”

While the stigma around mental health is gradually lessening, many of the responses to Parker’s now-viral tweet demonstrate that society still has a long way to go when it comes to understanding and treating mental health and self-care.

Self-Care and Wellness

Depending on your situation, there are many ways to start taking care of yourself if you are suffering from a mental illness. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and the two often are dependent on each other. Organizations like Mental Health America and GoodTherapy.org offer many examples of self-care, including eating right, exercising regularly, meditating, attending therapy, and connecting often with good friends. Even maintaining good posture has been shown to improve the moods of those suffering from mild to moderate depression!

Physical health is only one facet of your overall well-being. In order to be your best self, it is necessary to take care of your mind as well as your body, and tweets like Madalyn Parker’s show that society is starting to understand how important self-care is to lead a happy and productive life.

[VIDEO] How Can I Tell If I Have A Subluxation?

Dr. Levine describes the surprising signs of having a subluxation

How Can I Tell If I Have A Subluxation?
Published Thursday, 27 July 2017

Video Transcript - How Can I Tell If I Have A Subluxation? 

You know what? I wish I knew. I wish I knew if I had a subluxation or not. The fact of the matter is that we gauge our health based on how we feel. How we feel is not necessarily how we function. How do you know the difference whether your functioning well or you're not? I mean, I wish I had a red light in the middle of my forehead that lit up that said, "Steve, you've got a sub ... you have a subluxation and it needs to be corrected." Fact of the matter is, is we don't know when we have a subluxation, and that's why checkups are so valuable.

The other question is, what is a subluxation? It's not necessarily a pinched nerve. Because the term pinched nerve has the connotation that there's pain, but pain is always the last thing to occur and the first thing to go away of any disease process. I catch a cold long before my sneeze. Your back problem has occurred long before you feel back pain. Why wait for the pain? Why not treat the problem before the pain comes out? The beautiful part about it is we have technology that allows us to see where the subluxation is before you have a crisis. Would you rather take care of the problem early or late? The answer to the question is, we don't know, but we can find out.

PET Scans Show Stress-Relieving Changes in the Brain after Chiropractic Adjustments

PET Scans Show Stress-Relieving Changes
Published Tuesday, 18 July 2017

What’s got you stressed today? Crazy traffic? A lengthy to-do list? A needy family member or friend? You’re not alone. In everyday life, there’s good and bad stress. Good stress, also termed eustress, challenges you to adapt to situations in order to succeed. Bad stress, or distress, activates the “fight or flight” response in your brain, gets your heart pumping, promotes confusion, and often causes performance anxiety.

 

Stress and Chiropractic Care

A 2008 study demonstrated that chronic stress can attack and weaken the immune system, making people more susceptible to some diseases, such as diabetes mellitus or ulcerative colitis. Some people are easily able to reduce their stress and cope due to their personalities, genetics, or support system, but it’s not always that simple. Luckily, researchers have found that chiropractic adjustments are a great way to naturally help reduce stress in the body and promote wellness overall.

  • A 2011 study, “Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain,” used positron emission tomography (PET) scans to record brain activity in men before and after chiropractic spinal manipulation (CSM).
  • The PET scans found that the CSM altered brain activity in the areas of the brain responsible for processing pain and stress, as well as greatly reduced cortisol levels, the chemical that is released in response to stress.
  • More recently, a 2017 study expanded on this research. Researchers tracked the PET scans of 21 male participants taken before and after spinal manipulation therapy (SMT).
  • The PET scans showed metabolic changes in brain and skeletal muscles.  These changes are associated with reduced sympathetic nerve activity, which induces relaxation.
  • The results of this study shows that the chiropractic adjustments actually reduced patients’ stress by changing their brains, and that regular chiropractic care could boost the body’s natural defense against chronic stress and disease.

Healthy, Drug-Free Stress Relief

“Millions of people receive medical advice that links stress relief to pharmaceutical drug use. Safe, long-term health care demands that attention be turned to the proper reduction and management of stress using science and research that point to a healthy alternative,” says an article on dailyrx.com.

Chiropractic care could be that ultimate healthy alternative. Stress is a natural part of life, but when it starts to consume your life, it quickly becomes threat to your health, physically and mentally. Chiropractic adjustments can help return the skeletal system to a more balanced, relaxed state and quiet the “fight or flight” impulses in your mind, relieving stress and keeping you healthy in the long run.

You can read the full 2017 study, “Glucose metabolic changes in the brain and muscles of patients with nonspecific neck pain treated by spinal manipulation therapy” here to learn more. 

[VIDEO] How Does Chiropractic Work?

Dr. Levine talks about how chiropractic care fits into healthcare and how it helps promote wellness

Chiropractic
Published Thursday, 13 July 2017

Video Transcript - How Does Chiropractic Work? 

If you have not gotten the Searching for Health booklet from South Orange Chiropractic, this will explain what we do and why it works. Because the most beautiful thing is the definition of health. If you don't know what health is, how can you achieve it? We go into great detail on what health is. My question to you is, would you rather be healthy or just not sick? Well, a lot of people just don't want to be sick. They say they want to be healthy but their behavior is, "I just don't want to be sick." Because they do nothing. I'm not exercising more, I'm not watching my diet, I'm not supplementing, I'm not getting my nervous system checked. It's a false sense of health.

To be health you have to be proactive. Right? That's why we talk about consistency and frequency and anything that we do will breed success. You never get to the end of the book unless you read a little bit each day, or go from chapter to chapter. You never are successful in a gym unless you're going there frequently. You're never successful in your golf, getting your score down, if you're not practicing and hitting hundreds of balls each week. The things that we put our attention to and where our energy goes, the success will flow.

I always say be healthy by choice, not by chance. Too many people leave it to chance. I always say that be healthy by choice, choose to be healthy and do not leave it to chance. Too many people leave health to chance, that I'm okay today, I'll just wait till I break down tomorrow.

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