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“Health Tips From the Professor”

Let the Professor and His Expert Panel Search the Literature to Bring You the Latest Health Updates

Steve and Suzanne Chaney

Steve and Suzanne Chaney

This blog is about your health and what you can do to improve it. The problem is not in finding health tips. There is an endless stream of health information on the Internet. The problem is in finding health tips that you can trust.

There are a lot of health information web sites created by companies and individuals who want to sell you something. Somehow the information they provide is all related to the products that they are selling. But is that information accurate? Is there really good scientific evidence that the products they are selling work?

There are health information blogs created by individuals who have had remarkable “cures” from some pretty devastating diseases. They are passionate about recommending what has helped them. But will it help you? Is there any scientific evidence that their recommendations actually work? Could it have been something else in their life that changed and gave them such remarkable results?

There are the health information blogs created by the sensationalists. These are often people with some pretty impressive credentials, but they prefer the sensational rather than a balanced interpretation of the science. They are the kind of people who “never let the facts get in the way of a good story”. When they say that “They are giving you the facts that ‘the establishment’ won’t tell you”, you need to ask what “the establishment” knows that these people aren’t telling you.

And there are the health information blogs created by the naysayers. These are the people who will tell you things like “vitamins will kill you”, “cholesterol isn’t bad for you”, and “it doesn’t matter how much you weigh”. You probably know that these pronouncements run counter to what the majority of health experts are saying, but they are confusing.

No wonder you are confused! That’s why I decided to create this blog. First, a bit about me (You’ll find more information about me when you click on “Experts”): I am Dr. Steve Chaney. I have a PhD in Biochemistry. I ran an active research program and taught Human Metabolism and Nutrition to medical and dental students for 40 years. I have published over 100 articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and I keep abreast of the latest scientific literature on holistic approaches to better health.

I created this blog because people like you need a place that they can rely on for up-to-date, scientifically accurate health information without hype or bias. I pledge to provide you with accurate health information based on the latest clinical studies. I will tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of each study and how the studies relate to you. I will also report on some of the more sensational and negative claims in the media in order to help restore balance to the discussion.

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Latest Article

One of the Little known Causes of Headaches

Posted August 15, 2017 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Your Sleeping Position May Be Causing Your Headaches!

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

Can sleeping position be one of the causes of headaches?  

A Sleeping position that has your head tilted puts pressure on your spinal cord and will cause headaches. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, and the reasoning is so logical it’s easy to understand.

causes of headachesYour spinal cord runs from your brain, through each of your vertebrae, down your arms and legs. Nerves pass out of the vertebrae and go to every cell in your body, including each of your organs. When you are sleeping it is important to keep your head, neck, and spine in a horizontal plane so you aren’t straining the muscles that insert into your vertebrae.

The graphic above is a close-up of your skull and the cervical (neck) vertebrae. Your nerves are shown in yellow, and your artery is shown in red.  Consider what happens if you hold your head to one side for hours. You can notice that the nerves and artery will likely be press upon. Also, since your spinal cord comes down the inside of the vertebrae, it will also be impinged.

In 2004 the Archives of Internal Medicine published an article stating that 1 out of 13 people have morning headaches. It’s interesting to note that the article never mentions the spinal cord being impinged by the vertebrae. That’s a major oversight!

Muscles merge into tendons, and the tendons insert into the bone.  As you stayed in the tilted position for hours, the muscles actually shortened to the new length.  Then you try to turn over, but the short muscles are holding your cervical vertebrae tightly, and they can’t lengthen.

The weight of your head pulls on the vertebrae, putting even more pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.  Plus, the tight muscles are pulling on the bones, causing pain on the bone.

Your Pillow is Involved in Your Sleeping Position and the Causes of  Headaches

sleep left side

The analogy I always use is; just as pulling your hair hurts your scalp, the muscle pulling on the tendons hurts the bone where it inserts.  In this case it is your neck muscles putting a strain on your cervical bones.  For example, if you sleep on your left side and your pillow is too thick, your head will be tilted up toward the ceiling. This position tightens the muscles on the right side of your neck.

sleeping in car and desk

Dozing off while sitting in a car waiting for someone to arrive, or while working for hours at your desk can also horizontal line sleepcause headaches. The pictures above show a strain on the neck when you fall asleep without any support on your neck. Both of these people will wake up with a headache, and with stiffness in their neck.

The best sleeping position to prevent headaches is to have your pillow adjusted so your head, neck, and spine are in a horizontal line. Play with your pillows, putting two thin pillows into one case if necessary. If your pillow is too thick try to open up a corner and pull out some of the stuffing.

 

sleeping on stomachSleeping on Your Back & Stomach

If you sleep on your back and have your head on the mattress, your spine is straight. All you need is a little neck pillow for support, and a pillow under your knees.

Stomach sleeping is the worst sleeping position for not only headaches, but so many other aches and pains. It’s a tough habit to break, but it can be done. This sleeping position deserves its own blog, which I will do in the future.

 

Treating the Muscles That Cause Headaches

sleeping position causes of headachesAll of the muscles that originate or insert into your cervical vertebrae, and many that insert into your shoulder and upper back, need to be treated.  The treatments are all taught in Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living, in the neck and shoulder chapters.  Here is one treatment that will help you get relief.

Take either a tennis ball or the Perfect Ball (which really is Perfect because it has a solid center and soft outside) and press into your shoulder as shown.  You are treating a muscle called Levator Scapulae which pulls your cervical vertebrae out of alignment when it is tight.

Hold the press for about 30 seconds, release, and then press again.

Your pillow is a key to neck pain and headaches caused by your sleeping position.  It’s worth the time and energy to investigate how you sleep and correct your pillow.  I believe this blog will help you find the solution and will insure you have restful sleep each night.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

About The Author

julie donnelly

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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