Chiropractic and Sleep

quality-sleep-dr.-michelle-robinChiropractic is well known for the management of pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs, but what about enhancing sleep quality? Chronic, long-term sleep-related disorders affect an estimated 1.5 million Americans each year and account for an estimated $16 billion in medical costs annually, not including indirect costs due to lost productivity and other factors! Sleep deprivation can interfere with work, driving, social activities, overall quality of life, and even cause serious health problems (even a shorter lifespan!). With over 80 defined sleep disorders, insomnia (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or poor sleep quality) is one of the most common followed by sleep apnea (interrupted breathing while sleeping), restless-leg syndrome (tingly/prickly leg sensations), and narcolepsy (daytime “sleep attacks”).

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sleep is a “neurobiologic need.” Think of it like recharging a battery, except the battery is your brain! The optimum amount of sleep needed changes with age. Infants need nine to ten hours at night AND three or more hours of naps, while toddlers need the same nine hours at night but two to three hours/less daytime naps. School-age children do best with nine to eleven hours and adults with seven to eight hours. When sleep-deprived (>1-2 hrs of less than normal sleep), daytime napping needs increase as well as the need for longer nighttime sleep. Without establishing a sleep cycle or when interrupting the normal circadian rhythm (cycle of sleep and wakefulness), long-term problems can arise. This can occur as a result of missing as little as one to two hours a night. Though many claim and even brag about only needing a few hours of sleep a night, it is reported that they are less able to perform well on complex mental tasks compared with those who get closer to seven hours of nighttime sleep. It has also been reported that a higher mortality rate is associated with getting less OR much more than seven hours of sleep per night.

As chiropractors, spinal manipulation, exercise training, dietary supplements, relaxation therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture are all viable options to help in the effort to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and improve the overall quality of sleep. Lifestyle coaching facilitating sleep improvement includes:

1) Establishing a regular sleep schedule

2) Relaxing (like reading) before bedtime

3) Regular exercise (≥2 hrs pre-bedtime)

4) Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine!

Medication side-effects can be a culprit and sleep aid medications can leave one too sleepy the next day to optimally function. Herbal supplements can include the valerian (when taken for four to six weeks, it can improve sleep quality and reduce falling asleep time—it is often combined with others such as lavender, lemon balm, and skullcap); chamomile tea at bedtime; and kava. The supplement melatonin is another popular approach shown to help with insomnia, particularly falling asleep faster and for those with circadian rhythm interruptions. The amino acid L-Tryptophan converts to 5-HTP followed by serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter) and finally into melatonin. Other forms of therapy include music therapy and the use of sound machines, which can especially help older adults and children. Certain exercise such as yoga, tai-chi, and / or qigong act like a combination of both meditation and exercise. Combining some of these methods with cognitive-behavioral therapy (such as sleep restriction and stimulus control) has been shown to demonstrate some lasting improvements in sleep quality. The use of nasal dialator strips were also reported to be helpful in those with insomnia and sleep disordered breathing.

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16 Reasons to Get Adjusted

What Are Some Good Reasons to See a Chiropractor Regularly?

chiropractic-adjustments21. More Energy. The vital energy that runs your body comes from the brain, travels over the nerves and gives vitality and vigor to your body. Logic says that if that energy is interfered with, your body will not work at its fullest potential.

2. Clearer Thinking, Memory and Concentration. Did you ever have a day when your mind was extra sharp, thoughts and ideas came quickly or your memory was especially good? Ever have just the opposite type of day? Well, your body chemistry determines to a great extent your ability to think, concentrate and remember. Body chemistry is controlled by your nerve system and your nerve system works better without any interference (vertebral subluxation)

3. Less Stress. How can getting adjusted make your job easier or cause your kids to give you less problems? Well, it cannot. But there is a difference between adversity and stress. Adversities are the circumstances of life. You cannot change them. Stress is the inability to handle those adversities. How well your body is working will determine to some degree how much adversity you can handle and how much stress you have in your life.yourinhomechiro_smt

4. A Longer Life. Here is a reason based on logic. All things being equal, you will live longer if you take care of yourself, barring any unforeseen trauma, of course. Taking care of yourself, in no small measure, means keeping your nerve system free of interference due to vertebral subluxations.

5. More Sleep. All sleep is not the same. Just because you get ten hours does not mean you are getting the kind of rest you need. At different time, we have all awakened refreshed, sluggish, or tired from the same amount of sleep. How well your body is working will determine how much of your sleep is real sleep and not just “down time”

6. Greater Value from Your Exercise. We all need to exercise regularly. Some of us do not have the energy to get up off the couch and begin a workout, although that is an issue we have already addressed. Some of us have interference in the nerve system that keeps the muscles of our body from receiving a full complement of vital life energy. It is like trying to exercise a paralyzed muscle. There is not enough energy going to those muscles. That is what happens when there is interference in the nerve system due to a vertebral subluxation.

7. More Balanced Chemistry. The proper balance of your body’s chemistry is unique for you. Only the innate wisdom of your body knows exactly what is should be. People can only guess. The organs, glands and cells of the body must be working properly to produce just the right amounts at just the right time. Your nerve system is critical in the coordination of that function.

8. More Hours in Your Day. How can you get more than 24 hours a day from chiropractic visits, especially when the visit is going to take at least a little time?13hour_clock Well, time-management experts will tell you that it is the efficient use of your time, not the total number of hours that is the issue. If your mind and body are working as well as they possibly can, you will be more efficient and more than make up for the time it takes to visit your chiropractor.

9. Increased Earning Capacity. If you had more energy, clearer thinking, a better ability to handle adversity, more alertness, and were more efficient and physically, mentally and emotionally functioning at a higher level, you work more, work harder, get a better job or possibly a promotion, or even start a business of your own.

10. Improved Relationships. Why is it that some people seem to be able to get along with people that you cannot stand? Perhaps it is you. If you were functioning at a higher level, if your body chemistry was balance, perhaps you could handle them better and not be bothered by whatever it is about them that affects your relationship. Even better, get them to a chiropractor and you could, perhaps, become best of friends!

11. Improved Performance. With an improved nerve supply, all your performance levels will be elevated. Whether that improvement is enough to make a difference is an individual matter. As the advertisement says, “Results may vary.” However, getting adjusted and doing some other healthy things will have a cumulative effect and result in noticeable changes. It just makes sense to do everything possible to improve performance, including having a good nerve supply.

12. Better Digestion. There are prob- ably hundreds of reasons why certain foods affect certain people. Most times, the cause can be traced back to the inability of the body to handle that food. If it was the food, then it would negatively affect everyone. There are many reasons why your body, in general, and your nerve system, in particular, may not work properly. One of those reasons, interference in the nerve system due to vertebral subluxation, can be addressed by regular visits to the chiropractor.

13. Enjoy Life More. The bottom line is to have a happier and more fulfilled life. If you see improvement in the areas above, your life has to be more enjoyable. Even some of the things you do not enjoy now could become more pleasurable and rewarding. Visit your chiropractor this week!

14. Healthier, More Robust Immune System. Research has demonstrated that persons who have regular long term chiropractic care have immunity to cancer causing agents that is 200% greater than those individuals that have not had regular chiropractic care. In research with HIV positive patients, those patients who had regular chiropractic adjustments not only had an improvement in the number of white blood cells that attack the HIV virus, but it was the very cell that the HIV virus prefers to use as a host.

healthy-seniors-s17-seniors-exercising-115. More Active, Vital Senior Years. A three-year study of senior citizens over 75 years of age revealed that seniors who receive chiropractic care spend fewer days in hospitals and nursing homes than elderly non-chiropractic patients. Senior citizens under chiropractic care report better overall health, have fewer chronic conditions, and are less likely to use prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients. The senior chiropractic patients were more likely to exercise vigorously and more likely to be active in the community. Chiropractic patients spend 15% less time in nursing homes and 21% less time in hospitals than the non-chiropractic patients.

16. More Creativity. Creative thinking is one of the greatest human assets in that it initiates new thoughts and world changing ideas. Creativity is the ability to generate ideas of both novel and useful form to a particular social setting. Innovative thoughts inspire excitement and unlock the depths of human potential. Research shows that adults have higher levels of creativity for up to 8 days following a chiropractic adjustment.

Neck Pain and Sleep

I’m hoping this entry will not PUT you to sleep but rather WAKE YOU UP to the important information presented here about how to sleep in the presence of neck pain.

If you’ve ever had neck pain, then you already know how challenging it is to find a comfortable position in bed and how difficult it can be to fall asleep and stay asleep! In fact, sometimes neck pain can get so bad, that lying down is not even an option.

Sleep, especially deep sleep, is a VERY important part of healing so it’s important to learn as much as possible so you can get some good quality sleep! In fact, a Harvard based report states 75% of us get less than 6 sleep hours at least a few nights per week, which over the short haul, is not a problem, but NOT so in the long haul! They go on to list “Six reasons not to scrimp on sleep:”

  1. Learning and memory – “memory consolidation” occurs better after we sleep when learning new tasks (and tests scores reflect the difference);
  2. Weight and metabolism – chronic sleep problems can cause weight gain by altering the way our body processes and stores carbohydrates and by altering the hormones that affect appetite;
  3. Safety – increased fatigue = a greater tendency to fall asleep during the day, which can be catastrophic (car accidents, industrial accidents, etc.);
  4. Mood – the lack of sleep can increase irritability, impatience, concentration loss and moodiness;
  5. Heart health – serious sleep loss has been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat;
  6. Disease – alters immune function and may help fight cancer.

Let’s get back to sleeping best with neck pain! As a start, avoid caffeine at least 2-3 hours before bedtime – that’s a “no brainer!” For some, exercising too close to bedtime is not helpful.

Regarding neck posture while sleeping, the proper pillow is VERY IMPORTANT! Try lying on your back and both sides but preferably not your stomach due to the need to rotate the neck. The “ideal pillow” is one that allows the neck to remain “neutral” or, maintain its normal curve that is present when standing. The pillow should not be too thick or too thin. Since the neck is generally skinnier than our head, a “neck-friendly” pillow should be thicker on the edge so that it fills in the space between the neck and bed and thinner under the head. This is true whether we lay on our sides or back but the amount of space varies with age, gender, and phenotype – that is, thin, medium or heavy-set body types. There are many contoured or “shaped” pillows available that are thicker on the outside edges and thinner in the middle. Some of these include foam pillows of different densities, air pillows, water pillows, memory foam pillows, feather pillows, and others. Some companies make a pillow based on the measurement between the neck and the point of the shoulder. This allows the person to pick the pillow size best suited for their neck size. It’s important to note that it can take about a week to get used to the “new shaped” pillow so, “BE PATIENT!” Since we spend 6-8 hours of time in bed sleeping (that’s 25-30% of our life is spent sleeping!), neck pain may be PREVENTED by using a contoured pillow and, it’s easier to get used to the new shape when you don’t hurt so take advantage of getting a contoured pillow when you are feeling good – talk to us as we can measure you and help you get set up right away!

Interested in learning more how chiropractic can help with neck pain so you can get a good nights sleep? Call (309) 692-6800 today, to discover chiropractic benefits.