Ways Chiropractors help with Insomnia
Brief overview of Insomnia
According to the NHS “Most people experience problems with sleep in their life. In fact, it’s thought that a third of Brits will have episodes of insomnia at some point. The causes can include physical conditions, psychological conditions (such as depression or anxiety) or a combination of both.
Insomnia means you regularly have problems sleeping.”
Short term insomnia and long-term Insomnia
If you suffer from insomnia for less than three months it’s considered short term insomnia. If your sleeplessness last three months or longer it’s medically referred to as long-term insomnia.
Chiropractic care to reduce the severity of Insomnia
We read that psychological and physical conditions are at the root of most sleep disturbances. We base the following summary on a systematic analysis about how chiropractic can bring about improvements in both core factors to improve the quantity and quality of sleep.
Many of our clients have reported a huge improvement in their sleep as can be testified by our online reviews such as this one from Ailish: “I started going to Healing Hands Chiropractic in November and have been going for the past 4 months. Originally I was having a lot of back pain which was made worse by working from home. On top of this I struggled with sleep due to stress and was constantly tired. Since I started going I have found falling to sleep a lot easier and my back has much improved. I also have noticed my posture improving and I am a lot happier in day to day life.”
Or Lucinda who reported that: “Our entire family has been seen by Dr Maharaj, who’s helped us improve our posture, sleep better and feel stronger. We’d highly recommend.”
The 8 most common causes of Insomnia
We’ve broken down some of the most common causes of insomnia affecting us physically and psychologically:
- Stress (fight or flight sympathetic vs parasympathetic)
- Anxiety (excessive worrying and negative thought patterns)
- Depression (fatigue, low mood, inactivity, uncertainty, pain, grief and despair)
- Physical pain such as pain in the spine, back pain, neck pain and joint pain
- Poor bed and sleeping conditions (posture, alignment, poor quality mattress)
- Stimulants (adrenaline, coffee, energy drinks and other natural or synthetic drugs)
- Excessive noise or light (causing over-stimulation of the central nervous system)
- Irregular patterns (lack of routine, jet lag, shift work, newborns and more)
What follows is a breakdown of the positive impact regular chiropractic care has, on some of the most common causes mentioned above, to improve the depth and quality of your sleep.
How Chiropractors help you reduce Stress
According to mentalhealth.org.uk “Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Stress is our body’s response to pressure. Many different situations or life events can cause stress. It is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.“
Different types of Stress
Stress is such an overarching factor that we thought it useful to briefly break it down into 4 key categories to better equip you in your quest towards better quality sleep.
Mechanical stress affects the body mechanics and may include things such as posture, weight distribution and circulation. Whilst our bodies are well equipped to cope with stress under normal circumstances, changes in posture can lead to uneven weight distribution, faulty movement patterns, impaired blood circulation and restricted nerve flow amongst other factors. Chiropractors will help you improve your body mechanics to improve all of these areas.
Chemical stress can be caused by internal or external factors. External factors maybe environmental such as exposure to pollution, chemical agents, solvents and poor air quality. Internal chemical stressors can be caused by eating and drinking things toxic to the body. Another more complex process may involve the over-production of certain hormones due to stress, or hormonal imbalances which can make the body more prone to stress. Chiropractic care improves the nerve flow and flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This improves brain detoxification and contributes towards better cognitive function and sleep.
Chiropractic care also helps improve the production of three key hormones that reduce stress and anxiety and improve a positive mood according to rtor.org:
Neutralises stress-induced pain.
Boosts neuro-communication and feelings of social bonding.
Blocks pain deriving from inflammation.
In the same way the body functions and moves inefficiently when misaligned, due to nervous disruption caused by mechanical stress, cognitive ability and brain function such as our outlook on life, perception, processing information and decision making is also affected by how well our brain and body communicate and the level of stress present. We don’t deal with reality directly but rather operate through a map of reality, a model of how we perceive the world around us.
When the brain suffers from psychological stress (thoughts that cause a negative bodily response) the quality and accuracy of our perception is reduced. This can lead to more erratic behaviour and decisions which may exacerbate instead of easing the problem. Chiropractic care helps break the cycle and equips the body to better perceive and process reality, leading to better outcomes.
Nutritional or Dietary Stress
The body requires the right level of quality macro and micronutrients to function properly. This includes carbs, proteins for growth and repair, healthy fats, clean water, minerals, vitamins and an overall nutrient-rich balanced diet.
One way to avoid nutritional deficiencies is by avoiding the following CRAP foods:
- Carbonated drinks
- Refined carbohydrates
- Artificial ingredients
- Processed foods
The body also needs proper oxygenation, hydration and the right amount of salts which act as electrolytes to support healthy brain and cell function. Deficiencies in these vital supplies lead to severe stress and they must be readily available in order to sustain life. Chiropractors can guide you towards a healthier diet, and habits that promote a healthy mind and body.
Benefits of Chiropractic care for reducing Stress
Our bodies are perfectly built to adapt to stress to keep us healthy. However when the level of our stress is excessive or sustained for long periods of time it may exceed the body’s capacity to adapt. When this happens fatigue, adrenal exhaustion and sleeplessness can set in creating a negative cycle.
An experienced chiropractor can perform precise spinal adjustments to help optimise your nervous system, increase nerve flow and steer the central nervous system towards a more relaxed state promoting effective use of the parasympathetic nervous system. This makes it easier to adapt to emerging stress without feeling overwhelmed. Increased nerve flow also improves perception and cognition leading to clearer thinking and a degree of level headedness, all indirectly contributing towards a more peaceful mind and better sleep.
How Chiropractic helps reduce Anxiety
Anxiety is a very common cause contributing to insomnia. It can cause a person to lie in bed wide awake worrying about circumstances or just feeling agitated and uneasy about life.
Mind.org.uk reports that “One in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. Whilst one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England.”
Thankfully chiropractors are well positioned to help you drastically reduce your anxiety and achieve better quality sleep in the process. According to rtor.org, a site that provides a gateway to mental health services, “New studies now back up the effectiveness of chiropractic care in relieving certain mental health symptoms. For many, chiropractic may be a natural, affordable care option for improving quality of life for patients with depression and/or anxiety. Let’s look specifically at how chiropractic care is proven to help.”
- Chiropractors aim for a mind-body approach
- Chiropractic care helps lowers your blood pressure
- Chiropractic care promotes an all-natural solution without side effects
- Spinal adjustments help trigger positive hormones such as endorphins
- Chiropractic care helps you get to sleep
- Chiropractic relieves tension, stiffness, and headaches
- Chiropractic care encourages relaxation
Improved posture also improves our physiological and psychological response as a hunched over physique tends to promote disempowering feelings, whilst a more upright and straight posture tends to promote a more positive response and outlook on life.
Chiropractors will improve the nerve flow and help the body remain balanced, more relaxed and equip your mind and body to better cope with the stresses of life so you can overcome anxiety naturally instead of being overwhelmed.
Chiropractic is effective against Depression.
“We all have times when we feel down, but depression is about more than feeling sad or fed up for a few days. Depression causes a low mood that lasts a long time and affects your daily life.” According to mentalhealth.org.uk
They have identified common physical impacts of anxiety and depression including:
- Fatigue or inability to sleep
- Muscle tension and stiffness
- Headaches or migraines
- Aches and pains throughout the body
According to a documented case study “It is well recognised that psychiatric comorbidity and suicide risk are commonly found in patients with painful physical symptoms such as chronic headache, backache, or joint pain.”
Thankfully chiropractic care is proven to be very effective at treating chronic headache, backache and joint pain, reducing the key factors and symptoms contributing to depression.
Better quality sleep by reducing pain through Chiropractic.
According to an article published at sleep.org “Sleep issues arise for a variety of reasons. Pain seems to be a leading factor in poor quality of sleep. Spinal pain affects over 54% of adults, while migraines and chronic headaches affect over 38 million Americans and counting. In addition to pain, insomnia affects over 30% of adults and is often correlated with health issues.”
Chiropractic is effective at reducing pain by stimulating the body’s innate ability to heal and repair. This is achieved through alignment of the spine and joints optimising the nerve flow. Mobility is also improved as the quality and quantity of movement is improved, reducing inflammation, pain and uneven weight distribution.
Some additional suggestions for better quality sleep:
a) Invest in a quality orthopaedic mattress.
Considering we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, this is an investment that makes sense. The good news is that orthopaedic mattresses have dramatically come down in price and your body will appreciate it. A mattress that supports the body well and moulds to its shapes, distributing the weight equally, is very beneficial for a good restorative sleep.
b) Having a regular schedule.
Having a routine reduces stress and feelings of overwhelm and prepares the body ahead of time for what’s coming. This means the body starts to prepare for sleep around the time you’ve set for it daily. Also consider building in a short nap throughout the day if you’re feeling tired.
c) Cutting down on stimulants.
Make your last tea or coffee around 2pm latest. Caffeine has a half-life between 4-5 hours which means that it reduces its strength by half each 4-5 hours, so don’t overdo it. Try green tea instead of coffee and consider drinking decaffeinated after lunchtime. You could have a herbal tea such as camomile or one containing relaxing, sleep inducing herbs before bedtime.
d) Cutting off screen-time at least 1 hour before bedtime.
LEDs and artificial light stimulate the brain and can mess up our sleep patterns. By dimming the lights early on and cutting off screen time at least 1 hour before bedtime the body has time to prepare and go into sleeping mode.
e) Aim to sleep when dark and to wake up with the natural light.
The body works best if you sleep whilst it’s dark and wake up with the first light. So when you wake-up in the morning open the blinds and windows to let natural light in. This stimulates adrenaline production ensure you’re fully awake. When it gets dark go to sleep, you may help this process by closing double glazed windows, shutting blinds and curtains and dimming the lights. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
f) Use natural supplements to improve your sleep.
There are natural supplements and herbal products that promote better sleep and help regulate imbalances. Some herbs known to help are: Chamomile, Valerian, Hops, Passionflower, Lavender, PABA, St. John’s Wort and 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). Some formulations will use a combination of these ingredients. Please consult your GP if you’re taking herbal supplements whilst taking medication as some interactions can reduce their effects or promote side-effects.