Roughly 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders that interfere with their ability to get a good night's rest. If you're one of them and have been wondering how to sleep better, chiropractic care may help. Read on to learn more about the connection between chiropractic care and sleep and discover some simple tips on improving sleep.
What Are Some Common Sleep Disorders?
Many sleep disorders can rob you of rest and lead to symptoms that interfere with your daily life. Some of the most common ones include:
People with insomnia struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. Those with the condition often experience mood disturbances, poor concentration, and fatigue. Insomnia can be acute, meaning that it comes on suddenly and only lasts for a short period of time. It is also possible to develop chronic insomnia, which happens three times per week and persists longer than three months.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for 10 to 20 seconds repeatedly while they sleep. It robs the brain of oxygen and can cause many health complications, from headaches and loud snoring to heart problems. With obstructive sleep apnea, the problem occurs when soft tissues in the neck block the airways, prohibiting airflow. In central sleep apnea, the central nervous system temporarily stops communicating messages that trigger breathing.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome happens when one or both legs seem to move on their own when trying to relax in bed or sitting for long periods. Doctors don't fully understand what causes the condition but believe that it occurs due to an imbalance in a brain chemical called dopamine. When levels of this chemical go outside the normal range, your brain may not correctly interpret nerve signals from the legs.
Can a Chiropractor Help with Sleep Problems?
Yes, seeing a chiropractor for sleep disorders can lead to positive results for many people. Specifically, chiropractic care may improve sleep for the following conditions:
- Insomnia: studies have found that misalignments of the spine called subluxation may play a role in insomnia. In addition, chronic pain often contributes to poor sleep quality and nightly tossing and turning. Chiropractic care can address subluxation and chronic pain to address insomnia and support better sleep.
- Sleep apnea: sleep apnea may, in some cases, be caused by misalignment of the spine, making chiropractic care a potential treatment. Problems with spinal alignment could result in the soft tissue closure that causes obstructive sleep apnea and nerve signal relay problems responsible for central sleep apnea. A chiropractor can help correct the spine's position through various interventions.
- Restless leg syndrome: problems with nerve signaling may in some cases be caused entirely or partially by subluxation that a chiropractor can address.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Sleep
Choosing chiropractic care for sleep problems offers the following benefits:
- Drug-free. Doctors often address sleep problems with sleep aid medications, which can cause unwanted side effects and may be habit-forming.
- Non-invasive and convenient. Chiropractic care is non-invasive and done while you're awake. Appointments often take 30 minutes or less.
- Holistic approach. A chiropractor will focus on your whole self, not just the symptoms of your condition. As a result, chiropractic care can lead to health benefits beyond improved sleep.
- Stress relief. Stress can worsen sleep disorders, especially insomnia. Many studies have shown that chiropractic care can help ease stress and tension.
Types of Chiropractic Care for Sleep
During your initial visit, your chiropractor will conduct an examination and run imaging tests to assess your condition. They will then develop a customized plan for improving deep sleep for you. Some interventions that may be a part of chiropractic care for sleep include:
- Adjustments. During spinal adjustments, your chiropractor will reposition your spine to eliminate subluxation. Correcting misalignments can help improve nerve signaling and ease back and neck pain.
- Soft tissue massage. Massage can promote circulation to support healing and ease inflammation. This can lower discomfort and relax muscles to help you sleep.
- Lifestyle support. Your chiropractor may recommend that you change your sleeping positions or other aspects of your lifestyle or sleep habits to ease your symptoms.
- Exercises. Your chiropractor may teach you breathing exercises, stretches, and physical exercises that complement the effects of other treatments.
How to Improve Sleep Quality
In addition to chiropractic care, you can follow these tips to improve sleep quality:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially late in the day
- Exercise regularly but avoid doing so right before bed
- Limit screen time before bed as blue light may disrupt sleep patterns
- Go to bed and get up in the morning at a consistent time to regulate your body's natural rhythms
- Develop a PM ritual of self-care that can help you relax and unwind