What inspired you to become a Physiotherapist?
I became a physio after years of lived experience with chronic back pain and witnessing first-hand the profound benefits of compassionate, patient-centred care. “Hands-on” treatments and clinical exercise certainly helped, but it was also the rapport with my treatment team and their holistic approach to wellbeing that drove me to want to help other people in the same way. That’s also what led me to my personal yoga practice, and subsequently becoming a teacher and using the tools of yoga in the therapeutic setting.
What is your philosophy when it comes to helping individuals improve their sleep health? Are there any specific principles or strategies you follow in your practice?
Above all, every individual is different and has unique sleep needs. Telling a “tummy sleeper” simply not to sleep on their front probably won’t overcome their neck pain. Besides, it’s cosy and so settling for many! However, comfort is obviously key - if a person is to spend 8 hours a day on their pillow and mattress, that’s a third of their life!
Put like that, investing in a good quality and comfortable sleep space that meets their personal needs is a no-brainer. But the physical set-up is just one part - with my background in yoga and meditation, I also believe whole-heartedly in the art of relaxation and calming the nervous system before sleep.
What are some of the most common sleep-related issues you encounter in your practice?
Neck and back pain are the first thing that comes to mind, from muscle or joint-related conditions. Another common issue is sleeplessness in pregnancy. Everyone tells women to sleep while they can before the baby arrives, but physical discomfort and insomnia are often prohibitive. Perhaps it’s because they can no longer sleep on their front or back, and it feels strange to fall asleep on their side, or often it is hip or low back pain.
How do you go about diagnosing and addressing these issues?
Work shopping a sleep posture that feels comfortable for the woman is key, using supportive pillows in the right places. I also provided hands-on therapies like massage and teach prenatal yoga to help with joint stiffness or muscle tightness. Finally, some simple mindfulness or relaxation techniques can be incredibly beneficial, not only during pregnancy but into parenthood and beyond.
Advice for Better Sleep
Many people struggle with sleep problems. What general advice or tips would you offer for improving sleep quality and overall well-being?
Investing in a good night’s sleep will have a positive ripple effect on all aspects of your life. As a mother of two young children, I know so well that sleep-deprived days reduce concentration, patience, and mood. Some things can’t be changed, but if it is in your power to tweak your sleep habits, make yourself comfortable, turn off your screens, and develop a bedtime routine.
Just like for children, many adults are creatures of habit and their brain loves predicting the sequence of going to sleep. Whether it's a soothing cup of tea, a warm shower, reading a book, a couple of yoga poses or listening to a guided meditation, a bedtime routine can send you into that sleepy state before you even hit the pillow.