Insomnia, characterized by persistent difficulties with falling or staying asleep, afflicts up to 30% of adults. The consequences of long-term sleep deprivation are severe, increasing risks for chronic diseases, depression, anxiety, obesity, and impaired cognitive function. Pharmaceutical sleep aids provide short-term relief for some but carry side effects and dependency risks. For a natural, drug-free solution, many are turning to chiropractic care. Keep reading to learn more.
Chiropractors take a whole-body approach to health, recognizing that proper spinal alignment and nervous system function are key for restful sleep. The gentle spinal manipulations alleviate pain and tension, enhance relaxation, and restore balance to the communication between the brain and body.
The High Costs of Insomnia
Insomnia takes a tremendous toll on personal health, work productivity, and healthcare expenditures.
According to a 2016 study, insomnia costs the U.S. economy over $400 billion annually in direct medical costs and lost workplace productivity. Workers with untreated insomnia miss an extra 7 days of work per year on average.
They also have double the risk of workplace accidents. With nearly 1 in 3 adults estimated to have insomnia, this sleep disorder has become a public health crisis.
The costs of insomnia to personal health are also staggering. Chronic sleep deprivation puts individuals at higher risk for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
Cognitive impairments including difficulty with focus, memory, and problem solving can jeopardize work performance and interpersonal relationships. The healthcare costs associated with insomnia-related medical conditions continue to rise.
Still, doctors most often prescribe sleep medications like Ambien or Lunesta to treat insomnia. While sometimes warranted for acute, short-term insomnia, these carry risks including adverse side effects and dependency.
Plus, they fail to address the root causes of chronic sleep disturbances. The need for safer, natural solutions to restore restful sleep has never been greater.
How Chiropractic Care Improves Sleep
Chiropractic care treats mechanical misalignments in the spine called subluxations that disrupt the nervous system. Specifically, chiropractors focus on the upper cervical spine, where the brain stem connects to the spine.
This is the control center for all bodily processes, including sleep-wake cycles. Misalignments here can stress the nervous system and affect hormones, muscle tension, breathing, and heart rate variability in ways that inhibit restful sleep.
Doctors of chiropractic perform gentle manual manipulations called adjustments to realign the upper spine. This reduces neural stress and enhances communication between the brain and body.
By rebalancing the nervous system, chiropractic adjustments can have profound effects on sleep:
- Alleviating pain and muscle tension that inhibit sleep. Adjustments release tight muscles that restrict proper breathing and prevent finding comfortable sleeping positions.
- Enhancing relaxation and lowering stress levels. Balancing the autonomic nervous system facilitates relaxation and eases stress and anxiety that disrupt sleep.
- Regulating hormones related to sleep/wake cycles. Correcting spinal misalignments helps normalize melatonin, cortisol, and other hormones regulating circadian rhythms.
- Improving breathing issues that affect sleep. As the control center for breathing muscles, the upper cervical spine must align properly for unobstructed airflow.
- Increasing restorative REM and deep sleep stages. With reduced neural stress after a chiropractic adjustment, the body and brain can enter deeper, more restorative sleep cycles.
As a result of these beneficial nervous system changes, chiropractic patients routinely report improved sleep quality, fewer nightly awakenings, and increased energy after starting care.
Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene
Along with regular chiropractic adjustments, doctors often advise patients on lifestyle habits that promote restful slumber. Here are some of the top recommendations for improving sleep hygiene:
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. Keeping an aligned circadian rhythm maximizes sleep quality.
- Establish a relaxing pre-bed routine, like reading a book or taking a warm bath. This signals the brain to start winding down.
- Limit blue light exposure for at least an hour before bedtime. Blue light from screens inhibits melatonin production.
- Keep the bedroom dark, quiet, and cool during sleep. Use blackout curtains, a white noise machine, and keep the thermostat around 65°F.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals too close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep cycles.
- Exercise during the day but not right before bed. Regular physical activity improves sleep, but energizing workouts too late can keep you awake.
- Optimize your pillow for comfort and spinal alignment. The right pillow keeps your head, neck, and spine properly supported.
By combining chiropractic care with good sleep habits, patients see compounding benefits for improving the quality and duration of sleep. The holistic approach helps restore your body’s innate ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed.
An Integrative Approach to Restful Sleep
The devastating effects of insomnia go far beyond feeling tired. Long-term sleep deprivation ruins health, productivity, mood, and quality of life. Chiropractic taps into the brain-body connection to help restore normal sleep naturally, with no drugs.
If you struggle with getting enough sleep, consider chiropractic along with other lifestyle adjustments. With this integrative plan, you can reclaim your energy, health, and well-being.
Don’t have a local chiropractor? Give us a call. We’re here to help!
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