The Healing Power of Sleep
Leading NYC Therapist Leverages Sleep to Heal Her Patients and Be a Beautiful Warrior
Patricia Ladis of KIMA Wellness shares her advice for a healthy lifestyle in and out of bed.
By Fabrice Klein
We spoke with Patricia Ladis about the importance of sleep in her practice and how she manages to get enough quality sleep in her busy life.
Patricia Ladis is the co-founder of the KIMA Center for Physiotherapy and Wellness. KIMA, founded 12 years ago, is a physical therapy practice in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. KIMA is one of the largest practices in the city for one-on-one care in private rooms. KIMA has around 25 employees, including 12 highly specialized physical therapists. Each therapist is trained in manual therapy with a common background in spine, pelvis and hip and each further specializes in a specific area such as neuro-dynamic work. KIMA focuses on treating clients for a range of conditions from chronic pain through athletic performance issues and also provides preventative care. Clients range from mere mortals to highly acclaimed professional athletes.
KIMA’s approach is systematic and holistic in its focus on identifying the root cause of pain to fix it. The theory is that physical pain is a signal from the body of an underlying issue. Therefore, pain is an opportunity for change and improvement. KIMA works with patients to make them independent and create lifestyle changes by connecting them with themselves. The treatments emphasize reeducating the body to adopt mechanics aimed at promoting longevity.
Before co-founding KIMA, Patricia Ladis was a professional dancer. She became interested in injury treatment and decided to get into physical therapy, graduating with valedictory honors from NYU with a BS in physical therapy. She is also a behavioral breathing analyst. Ladis explains that her goal is to enhance performance using evidence-based research, available technology, and cutting-edge orthopedic treatment techniques. Patricia is known for her work with top athletes in the tennis world including Serena and Venus Williams and the Bryan brothers. Ladis works as a consultant with the US Tennis Association. She was also the lead physical therapist for the US tennis team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Patricia has been quoted in Forbes Magazine, Vogue, Men's Health and other publications. She has also appeared on NBC and Fox.
Fabrice Klein: In your professional field, what are some of your observations about sleep?
Patricia Ladis: Sleep is a very important factor in my practice. In my experience, most patients with chronic pain also have sleep issues. Either pain prevents sleep or sleep issues cause the pain to amplify. Since sleeping well for 8 hours is shown to help healing during physical therapy, we integrate a proper sleep regimen in our course of treatment. I believe that the calming effect of sleep prepares the body for the change provoked by physical therapy. Across the large number of patients we have treated, it is evident that recovery is accelerated by better sleep. Put simply, the better a patient sleeps, the better and faster they heal. Sleep is also preventative. Even if you don’t have an injury currently, your body needs 8 hours of sleep for neuro-synaptic activity. It is also proven that the lack of sleep increases the risk of injury.
Fabrice: What do you do to have the most and best sleep possible?
Patricia: I always try to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep. I also try to build a sleep reserve whenever possible in case I have to go through a period with less sleep. Having three children, this becomes crucial. Even though a routine is important, you don’t always control when you have to get up so it is important to be disciplined and go to bed based on when you have to wake up. As part of the routine, you should factor in a 30 minute wind-down: I take a shower or a bath, I read and I meditate. I also practice breathing exercises to relax the mind for 10 minutes. The Idea is to tone down the nervous system.
Fabrice: What is your sleep environment like?
Patricia: The ideal sleep environment needs to be very dark. I have nice cotton sheets on a memory foam mattress with an extra cover made of tencel to block off-gassing. I make sure there are no flame retardants or cooling gels anywhere on my bedding because they are toxic. It is also important to have a strong bed and headboard for Feng Shui energy. I don’t allow any digital devices in the bedroom, even a clock as the slightest light they emit can disrupt sleep. I am able to only use nature as a guide to tell what time of the night it is in case I wake up. I don’t use a sound machine but I use a humidifier and I diffuse essential oils such as lavender.
Fabrice: How important is your pillow to you and your quality of sleep?
Patricia: A good pillow if very important. I have a KateKlein pillow and I love it! It is very supportive which is crucial to maintaining a neutral neck posture while sleeping on your back and your side. I am a big proponent of sleeping on the side to ensure neutral spinal alignment. Therefore, your pillow has to properly fill the crevice between your neck and shoulder. With the KateKlein pillow’s unique design, the top layer of down contours perfectly so it feels individualized and the latex layer in the middle provides the support. My patients who experienced issues at night such as arms falling asleep or pinched nerves don't have those issues anymore after switching to the KateKlein pillow. Finally, as a mom, I love that the pillow’s cover is easily washable. My husband got jealous, so now he has one and loves it too.
Fabrice: Are you a morning person or evening person? How do you use that time for yourself?
Patricia: I am a morning person. The gold standard I live by is that you need to wake up feeling rested. If not, then you didn't sleep enough or well enough or did something that affected your sleep negatively. I get a lot of work done in the morning. Some circadian rhythm studies show that the most effective and focused time is 10 to 11 am. For example, the best outcomes in surgery are at that time. In order to maximize my energy in the morning, I have a very energetic breakfast including fats and protein but without much carbs. I even make own energy bars with seeds, coconut oil and dates. I drink mostly green tea or matcha.
Fabrice: What other activities do you engage in to stay healthy?
Patricia: I walk briskly twice a day for 20 minutes each time. I take one dance class a week for 2 hours and I participate in one yoga or pilates class each week. One of my tricks is to view everything as an opportunity to exercise: play with my kids, do house chores, therapy sessions with my patients,… and keep a proper posture while I do it.
I believe nature is a reset button for the body so I strive to stay close to nature. This has definite focus, health and productivity benefits. Through my work with artist Louis Schwartzberg, famous for his Moving Art series, the benefits of interaction with nature are evidenced by decreased hospital stays and improved health outcomes.
As for my diet, I focus on a paleo ketogenic regimen to sustain a good level of energy throughout the day. This includes whole foods, low sugar, cooked vegetables and bone broths. With my Greek origins, I also follow a Mediterranean diet with fish, dark leafy greens and olive oil such as Kosterina olive oil from Greece. Two days a week, I don’t have meat. I also don’t eat any dairy or gluten. Proper hydration is also critical: My rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day (if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 ounces of water each day). I breast-fed all three of my children and I credit this diet with the fact that they were all sleeping through the night by the third month.
Overall, a proper diet is very important for sleep because the real secret to a good night’s sleep is being active during the day and you need the right amount of energy for that.
I tell my patients to look at the messages from their body and test new theories. These are signals to learn from and use to change your lifestyle and make choices to promote how you want to feel. It is not about deprivation but choices for an optimal energy stream. I like a quote from Hypocrates who said “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food". I am 100% Spartan so I want to be a beautiful warrior during the day!
Read the article as published by Thrive Global
Fabrice Klein is the founder of KateKlein, a New York City company focused on sleep and wellbeing. Fabrice designed the KateKlein pillow. Innovative and luxurious, the patented pillow is engineered to be truly comfortable and healthy. Prior to founding KateKlein, Fabrice spent 20 years as a finance executive and investment banker. Fabrice is a graduate of the Yale School of Management.