If you are having trouble sleeping at night, you are not alone. More than one-quarter of the U.S. population report they occasionally do not get enough sleep, and nearly 10% admit to experiencing chronic insomnia. If that’s you, let your chiropractor or medical doctor know, and be aware there are things you can do on your own.
Here’s why: According to the National Institutes of Health, insomnia is sometimes related to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease or emotional disorders like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress syndrome. Other possible causes include arthritis, asthma, headaches, hyperthyroidism, gastrointestinal disorders, or menopause.
For some people, lack of sleep is self-induced. Typical reasons people don’t – or can’t – spend enough time in deep sleep at night include
Doctors of chiropractic assess your musculoskeletal system for mechanical issues that could potentially prevent a comfortable night of sleep. Chiropractors can diagnose and treat any underlying musculoskeletal cause of sleeping difficulties and target these sites specifically with gentle care. Soft tissue massage, mobilizations, posture changes, or gentle chiropractic adjustments can relieve stress on the spine.
Chiropractic treatment is designed to maintain and restore the proper spinal alignment necessary for the body’s systems to work optimally together. Proper alignment of the spine helps increase flexibility and movement in joints, especially important in the rib and chest area for breathing.
What chiropractors know is that decreased flexibility in this area restricts the inspiration capabilities of the chest wall. Although this might not be noticeable to some people when awake, the increased energy required to take a full deep breath takes its toll, often leaving them restless and tired in the morning and wondering why.
If you find yourself experiencing sleep problems, your chiropractor would like you to pay particularly close attention because it’s detrimental to your health in many ways. In a recent article written for Time magazine, Christine Gorman reports that sleep deprivation is responsible for slower reactivity times and poor memory. In fact, after about 20 hours without sleep, reaction times are similar to those with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level, making it significantly more dangerous to operate a motor vehicle.
Some experts tell us that a lack of sleep may contribute to a greater incidence of all kinds of disease due to its negative effect on our immune system. According to Dr. Diwakar Balachandran, a sleep specialist from the University of Texas, extended awake times decrease our body’s ability to fight off colds and flu.
Studies conducted in his labs have shown that T-cell counts decrease, and the concentration of inflammatory cytokines (not a good thing) increases when a person is sleep-deprived. That can lead to more susceptibility to catching a cold or taking longer to recover from bacterial infections.
In other studies that your chiropractor can talk to you about, sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity. In subjects exposed to two consecutive nights with less than four hours of sleep, the normal hormone levels of leptin and ghrelin became altered. This resulted in a perceptive shift in hunger and a greater likelihood of these people reaching for candy, cookies, and cake instead of vegetables, fruit, and dairy products.
If a lack of sleep is starting to affect your concentration, memory, or mood, you may have a sleeping problem. Chances are that it is just a case of nerves or an inability to deal with life’s stress. Still, to be safe, you need to get to the root cause of not sleeping.
Early detection and correction offer the greatest odds of getting back to your best possible self, and chiropractors know that sleep problems are sometimes caused by non-obvious conditions or situations.
If you do not want to have to take pills to improve your sleep, make an appointment with your chiropractor. He or she has any number of conservative, non-pharmaceutical treatments to help you increase your quality of sleep – and that’s a big step to a better quality of life.
What You Can Do to Get Better Sleep
b. It’s normal to switch positions while you sleep, so if you flip over on your back, flex your knees to approximately 45 degrees, put a pillow under your knees, and stick a smaller pillow in the small of your back to help you keep the normal contour of your spine.
c. Avoid laying on your stomach. This position puts unwanted pressure on the muscles and discs in your back and may increase back pain. In addition, you will have to turn your head while laying on your stomach, which takes your neck out of its proper alignment subjecting you to potential neck pain.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC), founded in 1922, is a private, nonprofit, chiropractic and health science-focused university in Overland Park, Kansas. The CUKC on-campus Chiropractic Health Center is open to the public and treats patients from Kansas City’s 15-county metro area. Our goal is to provide care and solutions for a better, more productive life for our patients.