The first 10 minutes of your sleep determine if you get a good night’s sleep or not according to my podcast guest this week. 

Your vagus nerve, the nerve that regulates if you are in stress or chill mode, travels from your brain downward on either side of your spine.

If your spine is out of alignment or curved, like in scoliosis, it can impact vagus nerve messaging to and from the brain. 

The vagus nerve has a connection with every organ and gland in the body.

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Alignment issues throughout the spine are often connected to health issues in that region.

Dr. Peter Martone blew my mind in our podcast interview when he called out every health issue that I have experienced with a visual assessment over Zoom!

He knew that I had sprained my right ankle severely and it had shifted my spinal alignment… 

…just by looking at me!

He went on to say that sprain caused me to have an alignment issue in my neck that threw off the vagus nerve signaling and triggered thyroid, hormone, and metabolic imbalances!

The time frame in which the ankle sprain happened correlates with when my metabolism started to slow and my hormones shifted in 2016.

Coincidence?

Likely not.

The more I learn about the vagus nerve the more I believe that it’s at the root of…

…dare I say…most health conditions.

Human nervous systems haven’t caught up with modern life. 

The vagus nerve is on surveillance for threats 24/7 yet it’s also the master of chill. 

To see how it’s supposed to work – watch your animals or a Discovery Channel documentary on animals in the wild.

Right now I’m watching my neighbor’s farm dog, Champ, he’s lying on his back with his legs straight up in the air scratching his back on the gravel driveway.

He does this often throughout the day between his patrol loops around the farm and his “playing dead” naps in the yard. 

He rarely barks during the day as threats are minimal. 

That is until the mail lady disturbs his napping…

…he’s quick to jump up and “hunt down” his treat.

Then it’s back to napping.

My pup Bryan is ready to attack anyone who comes to the door but the minute he sees they are friendly he’ll melt to his back for a belly rub.

And once he’s certain you’re not going to give him a treat he’s back off to napping on the couch. 

Animals demonstrate a quick burst of fight or flight then back to chill. 

Humans seem to struggle with toggling back and forth between stress and chill. 

With stressful days, nights are the ideal time to get into parasympathetic relax and repair mode.

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Perhaps you’ve dialed in your bedtime, your bedroom is blacked out and all is chill in the bedroom.

Yet, you’re not getting optimal sleep scores or you’re not waking feeling rested.

Could it be you’re not sending nervous system signals of chill based on your starting sleeping position?

Is sleep position the key to getting quality restorative sleep?

And are you potentially making other health conditions worse?

Dr. Martone, notes ideal spinal alignment begins with sleeping on your back and allowing your neck to get into it’s natural curvature. 

He’s observed that if you can train your body to be in optimal spinal alignment overnight – even if it’s 10 minutes…

… you can improve sleep quality, decrease time in fight or flight stress mode and prevent or correct health issues related to spinal alignment being off.

Being a belly sleeper I was sad to learn that I may not be getting as restful sleep as I could and that I may be messing with my thyroid and metabolic health. 

Since the podcast recording I’ve been training myself to sleep on my back.

Turns out it’s a challenge!

And I’m realizing I have hip and back pain discomfort showing up on and off while I’m on my back. 

While I didn’t dive deeper into pain during the podcast, I get the sense that there’s a protocol with pillows and propping that can help. 

Dr. Martone has a pillow called the “Neck Nest” that you can use to train yourself to sleep on your back while setting your neck up to be in more of a natural curve. 

Use the Neck Nest Pillow to rest better, restore posture, and recharge your energy!

His pillow isn’t a supportive orthopedic style pillow, it’s designed for training you to sleep on your back and getting your neck in a better position. 

More natural curvature of the neck = the more the vagus nerve can get in safe chill mode. 

If you’re already a back sleeper who has neck pain, it’s best to opt for an orthopedic style pillow that supports your neck curvature.

It’s been 3 weeks since my podcast with Dr. Martone and I started testing out his Neck Nest. 

I’m still drawn to sleep on my belly but I’m able to fall asleep on my back now. 

I do need a little propping of a pillow then the neck nest on top of it to relieve hip and back discomfort (Dr. Martone does demo this in the podcast video on Youtube). 

I’ve even woke up in the same position I fell asleep in a few times – that’s huge for me!

Dr. Martone says it’s the first 10 minutes of sleep that dictates how your vagus nerve will respond overnight. 

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I can see the logic as anything that reinforces safety in the vagus nerve is crucial for repair and recovery from the day’s stress.

This is something I think I’ll keep working on and see how it goes over time!

The idea that my spinal alignment could be messing with my thyroid, hormones and metabolism has me wanting to work to correct this quick.

Now I’m going to see what I can do to restore my neck curvature during the day!

Stay tuned for what I’m going to do in that department as I mine my resources. 

If you’re open to learning more about this subject check out my podcast with Dr. Martone – HERE and learn more about his programs and protocols – HERE.

Here’s to a restorative night’s sleep,

Dr. J

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