Are you searching for some help with your sleep? Are you curious if chiropractic can help with your sleep?
If you struggle with the quality of your sleep you are not alone. About one third of adults report symptoms of insomnia and up to 15% have some problem functioning during the day.
The Importance of Sleep
If you don’t sleep well you have a pretty good sense of how important sleep is. There’s an attitude in this country that you can sacrifice sleep and be ok, or that you can make it up on the weekend.
Sleep is critical to your well being in every way. It’s essential to every process in the body. Here are just a few of the benefits of getting enough sleep:
- Get sick less often
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Reduced stress and improved mood
- Get along better with others
- Think more clearly
- Lowered risk for health problems like diabetes and heart disease
What Interferes with Sleep?
In our modern world there are so many things that disrupt quality sleep that it would occupy an entire book. The focus here is on the factors that have a more direct relationship to how chiropractic can help you sleep better.
The more common day to day issues that interfere with falling asleep are:
- Stress or anxiety
- Health challenges like asthma and heartburn
- Alcohol and other drugs
Many people also have an issue staying asleep. They might not have a problem falling asleep but 3 or 4 hours later wake up and have a challenge getting back to sleep.
First Step….Sleep Hygiene
If you have any challenges with sleep, getting to sleep or staying asleep, the first thing you need to do is establish a consistent and healthy sleep hygiene routine. What do I mean by sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene refers to your routine, activities leading up to sleep, and your bedroom environment. Here are a few basics that are really important if you are experiencing sleep challenges:
- Have a consistent sleep time night in and night out
- Avoid caffeine after 12pm and avoid alcohol
- Stop eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bed
- Minimize bright lights for at least 2 to 3 hours before bed (consider getting blue light blocking glasses)
- Avoid screen time for an hour before bed
- Darken your bedroom as much as possible
- Remove any electronics from the room
- A cooler temperature is better
The Nervous System and Sleep
In order for you to sleep your body needs to switch gears from the alert and focused state of awake and drop into a state of deep relaxation. In order to do this your nervous system has to make a shift from the state of focus and alert into a state of progressively deeper relaxation.
We have a division of our nervous system called the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). An easy way to remember it is that it is automatic in that it takes care of all body functions outside of your conscious awareness.
The ANS consists of 2 complementary divisions, the Sympathetic “fight or flight” System and the Vagus Nerve or “rest and digest” Parasympathetic System. We live in a world that is continually and repeatedly activating the Sympathetic System.
When this happens over time it both turns down the activity of the Vagus Nerve and over activates the Sympathetic System. It is this state that results in most chronic degenerative illnesses such as:
- Acid Reflux and other digestive problems
- Chronic pain and inflammation
- Lowered immune response
- Fatigue and of course…
- Sleep issues
How Chiropractic can Help You Sleep Better
Outside of your daily routine and sleep hygiene we’ve established that sleep challenges are accompanied by an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. Chiropractic offers tremendous benefits to help with sleep.
#1 Correct Upper Cervical Spine: the upper cervical spine is where the Vagus Nerve passes closest to the spine. It travels right in front of the top 2 vertebrae in the neck. Any misalignment of the upper neck causes increased tension and irritation to the Vagus Nerve. When the Vagus Nerve is irritated it tends to suppress the function of the nerve.
Correcting the upper cervical spine allows the Vagus Nerve to increase its activity, which is crucial for rest, relaxation, recovery, and sleep.
#2 Thoracic and Lumbar Balancing: the upper, middle and lower back are closely related to the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). Irritation in these areas tends to promote overactivity of the Sympathetic System. The SNS will interfere with sleep. Correcting imbalances in the thoracic and lumbar spine helps reduce irritation and interference to the SNS.
#3 Vagus Nerve Exercises: when the activity of the Vagus Nerve is suppressed for a long time it is often necessary to effectively “wake” it up by using practices that stimulate Vagus Nerve activity. In my practice I’ve integrated Chiropractic with something called Polyvagal Theory. I utilize a number of easy to implement practices to effectively stimulate the Vagus Nerve and help it return to a healthy level of function.
The predominant Vagus stimulation I use is conscious breathwork to gently and repeatedly stimulate the Vagus Nerve.
Quality sleep night and night out is one of the more critical ingredients necessary for great health. Imbalances in the autonomic nervous system are a primary cause of poor quality sleep. Correcting the sources of ANS irritation in the spine coupled with activation of the Vagus Nerve will dramatically improve the quality of sleep.
Bill Berkowitz, DC
Bringing more than 3 decades of practice experience, Dr. Bill Berkowitz focuses on balancing and corrective care, applying his expertise to provide patients with predictable, repeatable and measurable results.
Dr. Bill consistently strives to enhance the well-being of his patients by addressing the root imbalances of their problems and promoting optimal balance, alignment, and function of the spine and nervous system. His commitment to delivering corrective chiropractic care has earned him a reputation for excellence among both colleagues and patients alike.
Bill’s wealth of knowledge and experience has allowed him to develop a nuanced understanding of the human body and its intricate connections. With each adjustment, he supports the body in returning to a state of balance that goes beyond mere symptom relief, focusing instead on long-term correction for his patients’ well-being.
Make sure to subscribe to Dr Berkowitz’s social media pages where he regularly posts tips, insights and valuable information.
Schedule your first visit here: Life Chiropractic