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Monday, December 28, 2015

Sleep Strategy

Can't go to sleep?  Can't stay asleep?  Here is a strategy to get a better night sleep:

Part 1 During the Day

From Ch.3 of "Move Your DNA"
by Katy Bowman
A) Do more activity.  Use your body in any way you can and it doesn't need to be exercise.  Movement is key.  Any little thing helps; take the stairs, park further away, manually grind your coffee.  Also, sitting at the computer or in your car all day long, then spending an hour or two exercising - DOES NOT undo the effects of sitting all day.

B) Get into the Sun, often.  The sun is not our enemy, and the human race is designed to be in it.  Sunlight provides vitamin D and a lot more than that as well.  It's still just beyond science's grasp of understanding, but it is known that sunlight has other essential qualities to human health beyond Vit D.  And the more sunlight exposure during the day leads to better sleep.

C) Work with purpose.  When your emotions are satisfied with how you spent your time during the day, your mind will shut up better at night.  Enough said.

D) Oscillate between engagement and disengagement.  Your brain has a "high" and a "low" mode while awake and asleep.  High Awake is when you're alert and going - the way we spend nearly all our waking hours, driving, talking, reading, texting, etc...  Low Awake is day dreaming, chilled out, stillness,, but not bored (if you feel bored you're still in high mode).  High Asleep is when you're sleeping shallow, and possibly dreaming.  Low Awake is deep sleep, even past the dreaming state, the time of most productive body/brain recovery.

So, here's the problem; your brain is made to make habits, and if you spend all your time in high mode when you're awake, your brain makes a habit of it all the time.  And it's much harder to fall asleep at night, stay asleep, nor get the best recovery from your sleep.

The answer is to give your brain more practice at switching.  A five minute moment, spread here and there through the day, when you are still and quiet.  Breathing slowly and deeply, will act like mini practice sessions for your brain on how to not stay stuck in high mode.  In essence creating a well used neural pathway to reach a state of disengagement, and not be habitually locked into engagement.\

An adjustment is soft and gentle
enough for people of all ages.
E) Try Chiropractic Care.  A chiropractic adjustment to the spine is gentle and often feels good.  It has many positive effects related to sleeping better.  Probably more than anything else the chiropractic adjustment helps a brain relax and overcome the habit of being over engaged (D).  And as mentioned above (A) your brain needs stimulation from activity and the effect a chiropractic adjustment has on the brain helps with that.  Lastly, people hurt less, usually a lot less, when getting chiropractic.  And not hurting certainly helps with sleep.  No surprise there.

Part 2 Pre-Bedtime 

A) No stimulates, sugar, caffeine - obviously.
B) No beverages at least one hour before sleep.  If you are woke during the night because you have to pee, this advice is particularly for you.  Give your kidney's enough time to filter it out so you have better chances of a less full bladder all night.
C) Turn off the electronics.  At least one hour before sleep for adults, two hours for kids, the visual stimulation has been shown to cause more delay in falling asleep, and more tossing and turning - a hint of less restful sleep.

Part 3 In Bed (no, this is not a fortune cookie)

A) Rub your eyes just like a child does.  When you put pressure on your eyes it will slow your heart rate and signal your nervous system to relax.  It's called the occulo-cardiac reflex and it's why children do it innately.

B) Progressively relax.  Bring your attention to your feet.  Notice them, and feel if your are holding them in any particular position.  Notice if you are using any muscle action in your shins and calves.  Keep doing this all the way up your body.  Anywhere where you notice your muscles are working, tune into the area and relax them, slowly melt into the bed.  This will also help if you're mind keeps going and going on tasks, or ruminates on worries.
This will give a useful place to put your minds attention, because sometimes it's far too difficult to think about nothing.

C)  A Dark Environment.  Your brain believes it's time to sleep when it's dark, time to wake when it's light.  TV and other electronic lights will disrupt your brain's patter of activity.  Blue light has the most disruptive effect, and that disruptive effect is worse on women.  In fact the chances of breast cancer increase for women sleeping with light pollution in their sleeping environment, blue light being the worst.  In my own experience with people, it's working at night and altering the natural human sleep cycle that is TERRIBLE on health.  It will slow someone's healing as much as anything else I've seen.

Power of Full Engagement Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz
Move your DNA by Katy Bowman
The Great Courses, Stress and your Body, by Robert Sapolsky PhD
Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor PhD
The Great Courses; Mysteries of Human Behavior by Mark Leary PhD
The Great Courses; How Colors affect you by Professor William Lidwell
Ultralongevity by Mark Liponis
Spark by John Raty MD
Mindfulness by Helen Langer PhD
Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi PhD

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Learning Disabilities and Learning Delays; Lectures at Dekalb County Library

   It's easy to think that all the functions of your body and mind are initiated by the brain.
  But that's only a small piece of the full picture.  In order for anything to happen, the brain must know the world around it.
  That comes from the senses.

  We're taught in school that we have 5 senses, but that too is not accurate.  We have much more than that.  Beyond the 5 we know about there is a broad category that makes up a 6th sense.  Yes we all have a 6th sense!!  
  Sadly it's not quite as cool as Spidey Sense but it's still enormously important and has a disproportionate influence on the brain, our lives and our health.

  It's called proprioception.

It is the sense of our body's position, and movement.  Every moment of your entire life your brain is taking in this awareness.  Asleep or awake,, moving or still.  And it is the key sense that becomes distorted more than any other by our modern lifestyle.

  It's the integrated function of that sense that overwhelmingly influences Sensory Processing Disorders.  And in turn how the concept of sensory processing disorders give rise to the host of learning disabilities; dyslexia, autism and ADHD.
  I lecture on this topic from time to time at my local library.  We will discuss what things you can do on your own to facilitate improvement and how Chiropractic care plays a roll in the correction of some of the originating distortion in the brain.

Tucker-Reid H Cofer Library
5234 LaVista Rd
Tucker GA 30084

Contact the library to see when future dates are planned.

The ability for a child to functionally and adaptively, grow their mind and improve their ability to learn is Obviously a big deal.  1 out of 6 children have challenges with this, and if I can help, I will try.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Child Brain Development: A guide for the Homeschooling Parent

There are three essentials that every brain needs to develop optimally as a child, and continue to perform optimally as an adult.

What are those things?

1) Nourishment
2) Stimulation
3) Recovery

When I  say "essential" I mean that precisely.  As in, if you lack them a little, or have them in poorly balanced proportions there's no way you or your child can be at your best.  And if you lack them a whole lot, it will make you sick, shorten your lifespan or even end your life.

There's a lot at stake here and getting educated can make big difference.  Knowledge (applied) is Power.

I give lectures on this subject matter at my local library;

Child Brain Development
A Guide for the Homeschooling Parent

Check with the library to see the next available talk.

It will be held at the Dekalb County Public Library, the Tucker - Reid Cofer Branch in Tucker, Georgia (click for a map).  This is a free lecture and open to the public.  No RSVP is required.

I hope to see you there.
Dr. Aaron Rossi

Why child brain development?  
  Because the mission of raising a healthy well developed child today is vastly more complex than ever before and parents need more support.  And a child is far more vulnerable when you get these essentials wrong.
  Also, we have 4 children, ages 11 to 2, and my wife and I are trying hard to raise them well.  It's our current focus, so I thought I could help other parents do better for their kids too.

Why a guide to the homeschooling parent?
  We home school our kids (when I say "we" I actually mean "my heroic wife") and the things that she and I have both learned can be put into a strategy that is a little easier to use as a homeschooling parent.  Home schooling is hard.  A parent willing to take that on needs all the support they can get.

Will there be any use to attending if I'm not a homeschooling parent or don't have kids?
Of course.  If you are interested in learning how to support brain health and performance you will gain a lot from this class.

Dr. Rossi working on a precious little chiropractic patient.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Sensitive Adjustment for a Sensitive Nervous System

  I consumed a great book recently; Quiet, by Susan Cain, among the many significant things I learned, was about some fascinating research on the natural born sensitivities of the nervous system.  According to a Harvard child psychologist, Jerome Kagan PhD about 15-20% of 4 month old babies' nervous systems were wired a little tighter (my simplification) and were more sensitive to new sensory input.  As these children became young adults they were healthy and turned out fine, the point though, is that the highly sensitive ones were slightly more than twice as likely to be introverted rather than extraverted.
  So, this got me thinking; if about 1 out of 5 people actually are more sensitive to stimulus simply because their nervous system is built that way, maybe they need a different kind of chiropractic adjustment?  There are over 200 formalized techniques to deliver a chiropractic adjustment, but in a very broad oversimplified way of looking at it, chiropractic adjustments come in two varieties;  segmental and tonal.  Segmental means the individual bones - or segments - of the spine and the curvatures of the spine are addressed.  It's usually done with more force and in more areas of the spine, the stereotypical adjustment that makes a lot of noise is in this category.  Tonal is a type of adjustment that addresses more of the tone and subtle adaptability of the spine, usually with less force and sometimes in fewer areas of the spine.  (I know many of my fellow Chiropractors reading this are cringing at how ridiculously oversimplified this is). This is a much less common way of adjusting.  I probably deliver 1 out of every 50-100 adjustment exclusively this way.
  Now, the whole point to any chiropractic adjustment is to affect the nervous system in a positive pro-healing, pro-adaptability kind of way.  And maybe 1 out of 5 of my patients has a nervous system on the more sensitive side.  So I've been paying closer attention to how people identify themselves, as an introvert particularly.  And using that as a clue to see if they would be someone who would benefit more from the softer adjustment or an adjustment in less areas.  Ultimately I think it's more than 1 out of 5.  Based upon my experience, even before this book and new idea, I suspect it's 1 out of 3 or even more that would benefit more from "less" - less areas of the spine and less force.  Maybe this is why it's called "practice".  It's always a process of learning and growing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Where do you carry your stress?

Almost all of us carry stress in our body when we get uptight.  The real art is how to pay attention to it.  Recently I've had people in my practice talk to me about:

1) clenching their jaw
2) headaches
3) neck aches
4) pain in the shoulders that causes headaches
5) loss of appetite
6) heartburn
7) loss of sleep
8) anxiety
9) getting sick
10) diarrhea

In each of these specific incidents all these things entirely related to stress in their life.  But more than just the fact that stress was present - that is universal for us all from time to time - it's how they responded to it.  When we suffer with things like this we typically go with how we have been trained; ignore it.  Sometimes with our force of will but often with medications.

I believe a wiser approach is to ask "what is my body trying to tell me?"  Be present to what hurts, lean in to it.  Most of the time, for most of us we need not suffer nearly as much if we would simply push ourselves a little less.  Go to bed when we're tired, one more show is not worth it.  Say "no" to the one-more-thing trying to squeeze it's way into your to do list.

If we listen better to our own needs of rest, recovery and sleep, if we say no a little more often rather than saying yes through gritted teeth, if we have a little more tolerance for outcomes we were trying to control against, in short; listen a little better to the wisest and best within us, we will suffer less.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back pain is a signal - Here's what to do about it

Before I pass on the following advice, I'd like to be clear about how I personally use Chiropractic care as well as how I recommend using it - for the overall improvement of body, mind and mood function, for the overall improvement of health and immune system and for the overall improvement in quality of life.

Using Chiropractic for the relief of pain only is like going to a nice restaurant and buying an expensive meal, just for the sake of sitting in a comfortable seat.  You miss out on the most valuable aspects of the experience.  I have an older post that gives more detail about this idea, look here.

Having said that many people are still suffering with a lot of pain, and the good news is, there is a lot you can do on your own to help yourself in a very effective way.

1) Get up and move more.  Every hour stand up and change body positions.  Sitting all day at work, in the car, on the couch and at the table is terrible for you, in many ways.

2a) Stretch in the morning.  It does not need to be formal or fancy.  Just a big ole' fashion grunting spastic stretch is great.  Can you picture your baby, dog or cat as they wake up?  What's the first thing they do?  The reason it feels so good, is because it is stimulating your brain in the right way, and your brain rewards you by feeling good.
psoas muscle

2b) Stretching upward specifically helps a particularly important muscle called the psoas.  It attaches at the lower spine and connects to the top of the leg, on both sides.  When it flexes it bends the leg up, like being in the sitting position.  So when we spend all the time we do seated it shortens that muscle, and it pulls on the spine, overtime this increases the chances of the spine functioning poorly and with it more pain.  So, stretch up...  And grunt, it always helps me.

3) Check this out: Foundation Training and do the training daily.  For the most part, pain is a desperate request from your body saying to you "we're not doing something right!"  Follow this training and begin to use your magnificent body in line with the way you were designed.  Also this video can help to avoid common mistakes when doing this exercise.  I personally have gotten a lot from this exercise.  I know the developer of this work has written a book.  I'm sure it's good, in fact quite good, I just can't speak from experience about it.

If you're interested in learning more about this work go to, an indispensable tool to living healthier.

4)  Regarding books I do have experience with is Pain Free by Peter Egoscue.  Very helpful stuff, particularly the chapters related to the low back and pelvis.