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Sleep and Chiropractic Care

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
~ Warren Zevon (1947-2003)

Lady SleepingNo one knows for sure if Warren Zevon was the first to utter this familiar phrase that has been picked up by movie after movie, but it has somehow become the mantra for millions of corporate workers. And I’m sure you can finish this phrase before reading the last word: “New York, the city that never sleeps.”

We have somehow become a society that considers sleep an inconvenience instead of a necessity. As a result millions of people are dealing with sleep deprivation. If you were to ask, “What are the keys to being healthy?” I’m sure you will hear responses of “exercise” and “nutrition.” While these are both extremely important to your health, there is a another factor that is often overlooked, and that is sleep. In fact, the lack of proper sleep can nullify all your efforts to exercise and eat properly. Exercise, nutrition, and sleep all work together. The loss of any one of these health components can result in illnesses, weight gain, and accelerated aging.

As chiropractors, we recognize that good health is based on these 6 foundational pillars: exercise, nutrition, sleep, a properly functioning nervous system, psychological well-being, and good posture. In this article we will be focusing on sleep.

Benefits of Sleep

Too little is taught about the benefits of a good night’s sleep. The benefits of sleep go far beyond waking up refreshed and alert, ready to take on a new day. Sleep has a major impact on your health and overall quality of life. Sleep is instrumental in a healthy immune system, and by regulating our ghrelin and leptin hormone levels; sleep also helps us control our appetites. Want to lose weight? Get some sleep!

Sleep stages 3 and 4 are where we experience our deepest sleep and our bodies are restored.

  • Blood pressure drops
  • Energy is restored
  • Our organs recharge (See our article on Adrenal Fatigue)
  • Tissue growth and repair happens
  • Hormones, such as growth hormones to help growth and development, are released
  • Blood supply to our muscles is increased
  • Our bodies recover from exercise

REM Sleep, which occurs about every 90 minutes and is progressively longer as the night goes on, is where our dreams occur. REM sleep provides energy to our body and our brain, and supports our daytime performance.

Repercussions of Too Little Sleep

Man asleep at the wheelThe repercussions of sleep deprivation go far beyond feeling drowsy during the day. To help you get your sleep priorities in order, here is a partial list of some of the consequences of not getting enough sleep.

  1. Weight gain. USA Today released a report saying that when people are sleep-deprived they typically consume 300 more calories a day than when well-rested. The body will crave more sugars and carbs to try to increase energy levels.
  2. Automobile accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries occur each year as the result of drowsiness.
  3. Memory problems.
  4. Trouble making simple decisions.
  5. Disruption of the circadian rhythm at the cellular level.
  6. High blood sugar levels (increased risk of diabetes).
  7. Accelerated aging.
  8. Increased cancer risk.
  9. High blood pressure and hypertension.
  10. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that lack of sleep can further exacerbate many chronic and serious diseases such as Parkinson, Alzheimer, multiple sclerosis (MS), kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and even behavioral problems in children.
  11. Clumsiness and poor motor control.
  12. Weakened immune system.
  13. Slower healing from diseases or injuries.
  14. Hypersensitivity and irritability.
  15. Depression and anxiety.

Tips for Getting a Better Sleep

  • Get Chiropractic Adjustments. 7-8 out of 10 of our patients tell us that after their initial chiropractic adjustments they fall to sleep quicker and have deeper, more restful sleep.
  • Exercise. Daily exercise will not only give you more energy during the day and help with maintaining a proper weight — it will help you sleep better as well. Avoid exercising right before going to bed, your increased heart rate could interfere with getting to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine, particularly in the afternoon and evenings.
  • Don’t eat late at night. It is best to have your final meal of the day by around 6:00 p.m.
  • Develop a healthy sleep routine. A set routine works. Try to be asleep by 11:00 p.m., your body, particularly your adrenal glands, does most of its recovering and recharging between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
  • Avoid watching TV or using your computer, tablet, video games, or smart phone for at least an hour prior to going to bed. Use this time to wind down, relax, meditate, sip an herbal tea, read something spiritual, or wash your face and brush your teeth.
    PARENTAL TIP: Turn off the WiFi network an hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure your mattress and pillow are supportive, but not too firm. In particular, make sure your pillow is not pushing your chin into your chest or bending your neck to an angle different from its natural curve. Not only could you wake up with a sore neck, but this could lead to snoring and other disruptions of your sleep. Talk to your chiropractor about positioning your pillow properly to support your neck. There are even specially designed pillows to help properly support your neck while you sleep.
  • Create a proper environment for sleeping.

Creating a Proper Sleep Environment

BedroomThis last point is so important that it rates its own category! Today our bedrooms are not even close to being proper sleeping environments — they’re more like entertainment centers! We have TVs, computers, and other electronic entertainment devices in our bedrooms. Electronic devices give off a lot of light in the blue spectrum that can suppress melatonin production and interfere with your sleep.

Ideally you want to sleep in as dark an environment as possible. Your pineal gland produces melatonin and serotonin, and even the faintest bit of light can disrupt this and throw off your internal clock. Invest in blackout shades or drapes, close your bedroom door, and get rid of night-lights. Even something as faint as the light from an alarm clock could be interfering with your sleep. If you have to use some sort of light in your bedroom and bathroom, consider installing “low blue” light bulbs which emit an amber light that doesn’t suppress melatonin production.

Sleep in a cool environment. When your body reaches stage 2 of the sleep cycle, your body temperature automatically lowers. This is the part of the reason why scientists believe that a cooler bedroom is most conducive to a good night’s sleep. Studies show the optimal temperature to be between 60 to 68°F. Warmer or cooler temperatures can lead to a restless sleep.

If you need background noise to help you sleep, get an alarm clock with white noise built in. The TV is not a proper background noise machine. Not only does it give off a lot of light, but its noise levels are not consistent. Nothing would be worse than being woken up by a commercial about not being able to get to sleep!

SLEEPING TIP: Remove the TV from the bedroom, particularly from the bedroom of your children. Watching TV can disrupt their sleep. No TV, no temptation.

Problems Getting to Sleep

Besides self-induced obstacles to getting to sleep, many individuals deal with insomnia, restless sleep, and disturbed sleep. These can be driven by physical, mental, and chemical causes.

Physically. You may be dealing with pain or your sleep environment may be affecting your ability to sleep. Some people make be having trouble getting a good sleep due to snoring, sleep apnea, or continually waking up to go to the bathroom.

Mentally. Often individuals cannot get their mind to relax enough to get a deep sleep. This could be due to stress, depression, over-stimulation, watching TV, using the computer, or maybe due to a change in your sleep schedule from something like a new work shift.

Chemically. Medications, caffeine, and foods you eat can disturb your sleep. Some people are susceptible to electromagnetic fields from electronic devices. Others may be suffering from hormonal imbalances or diseases.

Chiropractic Care Can Help You Sleep Better

Woman waking up from a good night's sleepSleep issues are rarely independent occurrences, they are usually traceable to various physical, mental, or chemical stresses. Many of these issues can be treated through chiropractic care. At Kempsville Chiropractic, we can help deal with your subluxations (misalignments) and pain that can contribute to your sleep problems. Adjustments in the neck area have a direct impact on the sleep center of the brain. Chiropractic adjustments restore the proper nerve supply to your muscles which reduces muscle tension and spasms.

Sleep is a very important and often overlooked aspect of our health. Lack of sleep and sleep deprivation have a direct effect on our abilities to perform everyday tasks, and can impair our health.

If you are suffering from lack of sleep due to to stress, anxiety or depression, specific adjustments to the first 3 cervical vertebrae (upper neck) will increase the nerve supply to your limbic system. This is the part of your brain that is responsible for emotions, behavior, motivation, and long-term memory among other things. Restoring the nerve supply to your limbic system will help you manage your stress.

Kempsville Chiropractic is dedicated to improving your overall health, and getting proper sleep is a major component in living a healthy life. Often simple changes in your sleep routines, diet, and exercise can address sleep issues. Chronic sleep deprivation is something you need to address as soon as possible.

If you have sleep issues, call us at 757.467.5258 to arrange an appointment with Kempsville Chiropractic. We will consult with you on your sleep issues and help find a solution that works for you. Your solution may be something as simple as lifestyle adjustments, or it may require more. Either way, Kempsville Chiropractic is concerned about your health and well-being. If any of your friends and family can benefit from this article, please recommend this article to them.

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© 2013-2016 Kempsville Chiropractic

These articles are the property of Kempsville Chiropractic. They may not be reused without permission. You are welcome to link to this article. Kempsville Chiropractic has been proudly serving Virginia Beach, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; and Norfolk, Virginia since 1996.

The contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Lombardozzi. The information on this site is not intended as medical advice. The information contained on this website is a sharing of knowledge based on the experience and research of Dr. Lombardozzi and his staff. Dr. Lombardozzi recommends that patients make their health care decisions after doing their research and consulting with a qualified health care professional.

Contact us at 757.467.5258 to set an appointment.