The Importance of Good Sleep and Sleep Hygiene


By Erica Sommer, DPT

We all know that we need to strive for adequate sleep to function in our daily lives. We can feel fatigue, agitation, and overall exhaustion creep in when we are not sleeping well. However, “adequate sleep” is going to look different for everyone based on differences in physiology, activity level, and overall health, to name a few factors. 

The “normal” range of required sleep per night (or day) for healthy adults is anywhere from 7-9 hours. Sleeping more than 9 or less than 7 hours per night is not necessarily a bad thing; this may just be where your body functions best.  

Ever notice how on a day when you are feeling under the weather, your body craves sleep in a way that it typically does not on a day when you are feeling well? This is because all kinds of healing, restorative, and regulatory processes take place when we are sleeping. 

Helps Regulate Internal Systems

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep plays a role in the regulation of our immune systems, which help us to fight off infection, as well as our cardiovascular system, metabolism, hormone production and/or release, and overall cognition and alertness. Lack of sleep can manifest in more ways than one, and it generally goes beyond just “feeling tired.” You may begin to feel physically ill or have difficulty concentrating on usual daily tasks. 

Tips for Better Sleep 

Sometimes, we go to bed with every good intention of getting our 7-9 hours of snoozing, but still are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep. Listed below are some basic tips to help achieve a good night’s rest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Come up with a consistent bedtime routine, including the time that you are going to bed
  • Create a relaxing sleep environment (cool, dark, quiet bedroom)
  • Avoid use of phones, laptops, and TV’s in the bedroom
  • Allow time for digestion of your last meal prior to going to bed
  • Participating in physical activity during the day can lead to more restful sleep at night 

It is understandable that it is sometimes impossible to achieve this 7-9 hours of sleep daily, depending on current life circumstances. However, if possible, sleep should be a priority when thinking about improving overall health in the same way that you would prioritize a healthy diet and exercise. 

What is Bad Posture? 

By Julia Musantry, DPT, PT

Have you ever been told you have “bad posture”? Let’s talk about it! 

There’s so much information out there today on the importance of “good posture,” and the truth is, the body is a lot more complicated than just finding one perfect posture to solve all your aches and pains. You may spend hours researching your neck pain and even after sitting up taller… your neck is still giving you pain.

Posture is highly individual and dynamic. Posture is much more about how your body adapts and interacts with different situations than one “correct” static position. Posture varies greatly among all individuals and what may be considered “good posture” for one person may not feel very comfortable for another.

Posture refers to your body’s alignment considering gravity. No matter how we position our body, gravity is always exerting pressure on our joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 

If we are sitting for a prolonged period of time without movement, staring down at our cell phones or desktop, gravity and pressure are continuously pushing down on some joints more than others. 

Various research shows that standing or sitting more upright puts approximately 10-12 lbs of force throughout our cervical spine. As you can see in the image below, the more forward the positioning of our head, the more pressure is placed on the joints of our lower cervical spine. 


The truth is, the body is made to hold these forces, but not for prolonged periods of time with no movement. This positioning isn’t “wrong,” and at times looking forward and down is unavoidable, but prolonged positions without movement will always give us pain due to these increased forces.


Realistically, bad posture is any prolonged posture without movement, and good posture is any posture that requires movement! Be aware of your positioning during the day and take breaks to move. It’s important to be mindful when staying still for too long and how this can affect you. 

While these prolonged postures can play a big part in your aches and pains, it is not the case for everybody. To learn about your posture and body mechanics, schedule an appointment with your physical therapist for a proper evaluation and personalized plan addressing your specific pain. 

Rather than “correcting” posture, physical therapy can play a huge role in improving postural awareness, promoting postural variability, and increasing overall mobility to adapt to different activities and environments comfortably! 

1. Caneiro, J. P., O’Sullivan, P., Burnett, A., Barach, A., O’Neil, D., Tveit, O., & Olafsdottir, K. (2010). The influence of different sitting postures on head/neck posture and muscle activity. Manual Therapy, 15(1), 54-60 

2. ↑ Slater D, Korakakis V, O’Sullivan P, Nolan D, O’Sullivan K. “Sit up straight”: time to re-evaluate. journal of orthopaedic & sports physical therapy. 2019 Aug;49(8):562-4.


Exercising Your Way to Better Health

Young happy athletic woman listening music on earphones while jogging in the park.

By: Erica Sommers, DPT at Therapy Associates of Denton

We all know exercise is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that making a habit of exercising regularly can reduce your chances of developing a chronic illness? Getting up and moving for even a few minutes a day has numerous benefits for physical and mental wellbeing. 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has long been credited with being the “gold standard” group as it relates to making physical activity recommendations to reduce instances of chronic illness in all populations. This evidence-based organization publishes a handful of peer-reviewed journals and numerous books on various topics regarding the latest research on exercise and physical activity recommendations for optimal health of individuals.  

The latest update to the guidelines for physical activity in healthy adults was done in 2018 and is summarized below: 

  • Healthy adults aged 18-65 years should participate in moderate intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes on five days per week, or vigorous intensity aerobic activity for at least 20 minutes on three days per week. 
  • Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week. (Physical activity guidelines resources 2023)

So, what exactly does this mean?

A simple way to gauge if you are participating in moderate or vigorous activity is by differentiating if you can hold a conversation with another individual or not. For example, during moderate intensity exercise, you would be able to hold a conversation, but not be able to sing due to being out of breath. During vigorous intensity exercise, you would be unable to say more than a few words without needing to stop and take a few breaths. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2022)

Moderate Intensity vs. Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity

What an individual considers moderate and vigorous can vary based on health conditions and physical fitness. However, as a rule, some exercises are more intense than others. Some examples of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity include but are not limited to:

Moderate intensity activities

  • Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics 
  • Riding a bike on level terrain
  • Dancing 
  • Pickleball

Vigorous intensity activities

  • Jogging/running
  • Swimming laps
  • Biking along uneven terrain
  • Hiking 

Main Takeaways

Exercise is vital to optimizing health and reducing the burden of chronic disease. There are many ways to participate in physical activity and meet the listed recommendations to improve overall wellness. The most important thing is to find an activity that is enjoyable and sustainable, meaning that you will want to participate in it for many years to come. Be creative, and have fun!

Team Spotlights: Julia

Julia, DPT, Therapy Associates of Denton

A little from Julia:

“I am currently a physical therapist with Therapy Associates of Denton! I was born and raised in New York but decided to move down to Texas and start my career here. I received my Doctor of Physical Therapy from Tufts University and received my Bachelor of Science from Manhattan College.

I enjoy treating a variety of conditions, but especially love treating back pain!

During my down time, I enjoy lifting and spending time with family.”

Culture Award – January 2023

Culture Award 2022

Culture is very important to Monticello. The person selected for this award is someone who lives the FISH! Philosophy. They are being there for each other and our patients. Making people’s day. Being playful and creative. They are inclusive of all individuals. They intentionally choose their attitudes and don’t let the situation choose it for them.

This exceptional employee has been described by her peers as “one of the most happy, playful, and creative people they know,” and “someone who never puts herself above any of her coworkers and has a deep respect for everyone she interacts with.”

“She goes the extra mile to make others feel included, appreciated and cared for. She will send out motivational emails to the team to keep our spirits lifted.”

“She is the best at trying to get everyone on the same page and making sure situations are handled as fast as possible. She does a great job on checking on everyone and trying to be sure everyone is happy.”

We are delighted to present the Culture Award to Misty Howe who works at our Imaging Clinic at Cleburne.

Congratulations Misty! And thank you for being such a huge contributor to the kind of culture we strive for at Monticello!

Best Customer Service Award 2022

This award is for the employee who can handle any customer, even those with complains. They serve as a goodwill ambassador for Monticello. They can stay calm under pressure while soothing tensions. They always follow through on what they say they will do. They maintain a strong reputation for caring and showing respect, even in the face of criticism.

Co-workers describe this person as someone who “can handle any situation with a calm confidence that makes her patients and coworkers feel at ease. She puts patient care at the forefront of everything she does.”

We are honored to present the Best Customer Service Award to Cynthia “Cindy” Trantham who works at our Burleson Imaging location.

Congratulations, Cindy! We thank you for your dedication to your co-workers, our organization, and most importantly, our patients.

Exemplary Teamwork Attitude Award 2022

Teamwork is a critical aspect of any business. It speaks to a broader sense of communication and cooperation among department peers and across the organization. This award goes to someone who practices and promotes strong trust, cooperation, communication, and respect for different viewpoints and approaches.

The people who nominated our winner describe him as “a hoy to work with… He is always willing to go the extra mile to put patients at east during a scan. He is open and eager to help anyone who asks,” “works well with all coworkers and is very helpful across all aspects of the job,” and “regardless of how busy he gets, he always has the best attitude and cares about doing everything the right way.”

It brings us great pride to present the Exemplary Teamwork Attitude Award to Timothy “Tim” Hiles who works at our 7th Street location.

Congratulations, Tim! We admire your drive and ambition to always be there for others. Thank you for everything that you do! It does not go unnoticed.

Exceeds Expectations Award 2022

This award is for the person who sets goals, continually presses forward, and achieves more than they set out to do. They demonstrate a strong internal motivation to be better or more efficient regardless of others’ expectations of them.

Our award winner is described as “always willing to help others, even with her workload, and always has a positive attitude. Always very kind and respectful to others.”

“She treats everyone with respect whether they are calling to make payments or give a little grievance.”

We are thrilled to present the Exceeds Expectations Award to Sara Hunter. Sara is our Revenue Cycle Supervisor at HQ.

Congratulations, Sara! We thank you for your contribution to the team, your peers, and Monticello.

Behind the Scenes Award 2022

The Behind the Scenes Award is a less conventional performance award, but the winner of this award plays a crucial part in the success of our company. This award brings someone into the limelight who makes a huge impact on the organization but are not regularly visible.

The winner of this award has been described by others as someone who “shares her knowledge and expertise on all things Monticello. She works hard and takes pride in the work she does,”

“Donna truly handles all the day to day tasks that make it possible for the entire business to function. She handles all the banking and AP which in itself is a significant feat. In addition, she reviews contracts to make sure we are not overpaying vendors and offers suggestions for cost savings where applicable She does much, much more behind the scenes. Donna is the embodiment of this award.”

We are honored to present the Behind the Scenes Award to Donna Buchanan who works at HQ.

Congratulations, Donna! We are grateful for your work ethic and dedication to our team at Monticello. Thank you!

Others First Award 2022

The Others-First Award applauds a worker who always puts patients and other co-workers before themselves. They’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure a customer is happy, and colleagues feel supported. They make sacrifices often, sometimes without many people knowing, because they believe in what they’re doing and how they’re helping.

Another way to conceptualize this Others-First Award is in terms of exemplary humanitarian service. For example, someone who really cares about helping those in need. Perhaps they even advocated for the creation of a company-wide giving program or a volunteer-time-off initiative. They give the workplace added purpose.

We are very proud to present the Others First Award to Laura Gallagher who works at Alliance and Decatur in Marketing.

Laura is an excellent ambassador for Monticello because she puts others first. She is a tireless advocate for her referring providers and for their patients; they feel as if Laura is a part of their team, putting their concerns at the top of her list. They trust Laura to put them first and get their issue resolved and she consistently follows through for them.

Congratulations, Laura! You bring a lot of pride to Monticello through your selfless acts of kindness and compassion, and you are very deserving of this award.

TOP 100 BEST PLACES TO WORK IN HEALTHCARE in 2022, in the nation, by Modern Healthcare

We are BEYOND excited and honored to have been named in the TOP 100 BEST PLACES TO WORK IN HEALTHCARE in 2022, in the nation, by Modern Healthcare!!!

We attended the awards gala in Nashville and had so much fun touring the city and being a part of such an amazing event that honors so many companies within healthcare.

“We could not have achieved this without each of our employees. Our team is the heart of this organization. The support they have shown for our community, our patients, and each other is what makes this all possible.”
— Brian Hickey, President of MHS

Modern Healthcare partnered with the Best Companies Group on the assessment process, which includes an extensive employee survey. While this program has evolved over the years, its mission remains the same: recognizing workplaces that empower employees to provide patients and customers the best possible care, products and services.