For the more than one third of Americans (according to the CDC) that are not getting enough sleep, it is common practice to reach for the pill bottle. After all, without a good night’s rest we can’t be at our best for the many demands of modern life to include our studies, our work, and our caregiving responsibilities.
However, most sleeping aids, even the over the counter variety, come with significant side effects, long term health risks, and a serious risk of dependence.
Looking for a more natural alternative to better sleep? Read on to learn more about how Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care offers a natural, non-invasive, and non-narcotic way to experience more restful sleep.
Quality Bedding: Neck and Spinal Support
If it has been 8 or more years since you last replaced your mattress, it may be time for a new one. It is not just hype trying to get you to buy a new bed – A mattresses’ ability to support your spine, neck and joints deteriorates over time, eventually keeping you from a good night’s rest.
You might be in the market for a new mattress if:
- You find yourself tired during the day even when you slept for 8 or more hours.
- You wake up with sore spots, particularly in the hips, lower back or shoulder areas.
- You toss and turn during the night or wake up multiple times over the course of the night.
- You can see visible signs of unevenness on the top of the mattress.
- It has been 8 or more years since you bought a new bed.
Another bedding issue that can present a problem for sleep is the humble pillow. While it may seem like a trivial piece of bedding that many of us take for granted, finding the right pillow for your body size, shape, sleep position, and specific curvature is an important aspect of sleep health.
Since the pillow is most important in terms of the upper cervical area of the spine, consider asking your Upper Cervical Care Chiropractor to help you find the right pillow to support your head while you catch your ZZZs.
While you’re there, make sure to ask about sleep posture and work with your Chiropractor to find the best position to support your neck and spinal health when you are in dreamland. Sometimes better sleep is a matter of slightly adjusting your position or getting rid of a bad habit such as sleeping on your stomach.
Sleep Hygiene: Make Good Sleep a Ritual
We recently posted a blog on the importance of building routine around healthy sleep habits. In fact, there are plenty of actions you can take which can improve your sleep without even visiting a doctor or taking any medications.
Here are a few tips:
- Only spend time in your bed when you are sleeping (don’t read, watch tv, or play on your phone from bed)
- Get into a habit that includes one activity that you onlydo before bedtime (read a book on the couch, enjoy a hot cup of decaffeinated tea, or take a bath)
- Make sure you bedding is supportive, comfortable and the room where you sleep is dark
- Avoid spending time with screens such as laptops, mobile phones or tablets before bedtime
- Exercise regularly to promote better sleep
- Try to get at least ten minutes of sun daily to promote your body’s natural melatonin, a hormone related to sleep
Upper Cervical Alignment and Better Sleep
Although there are several ways that Upper Cervical Care can improve sleep, we wanted to highlight these two ways which have made a tremendous impact on the lives of some of our patients struggling with poor quality and/or quantity of sleep: Pain reduction and brain stem health.
Pain Reduction for Better Sleep
Even the smallest misalignment in the delicate area of the neck and spine can exacerbate pain and inflammationin other areas of the body. People often don’t realize that pain in the joints, limbs and even the hands and feet can have their origins from compressions in the spine and neck areas. After all, the spine is the Grand Central Station of the central nervous system!
This pain can become a barrier to quality, restful sleep. Upper Cervical Care advanced diagnostics and precise gentle corrections can help relieve pain caused from either misalignment in the upper spine or from the compensatory action of other muscles that try to adjust for it causing a problem somewhere else.
By reducing pain throughout the body by addressing the cause rather than the symptoms, Upper Cervical Care can lead to better sleep.
Brain Stem Health – GABA Good!
The atlas (C1) and axis (C2) are the two most important vertebrae in the upper spine. They are different from the rest of the vertebrae in the spine because they are responsible for a large range of movement.
Unlike most of your spine, the atlas and axis allow your head to move around and rotate in almost every direction.
However, the additional movement potential of these vertebrae comes at the cost of making them more vulnerable to misalignments and injury. Making matters worse, this also happens to be the area of the spine that includes the brain stem, an area of the brain responsible for much of the body’s involuntary actions such as breathing and blood pressure.
Although both breathing and blood pressure are critical to good rest (think of the slower, deeper breathing and slower heart rate associated with sleep) there is another reason that this area of the brain is a vital link to great sleep.
Research has demonstrated that areas of the lower brainstem are responsible for the production of critical sleep modulating compounds in the GABAergic parafacial zone.The neurotransmitter known as Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is responsible for slowing down the nervous activity in the brain and nervous system, paving the way for quality, restful sleep.
Thus, pinches or restrictions in the function of the Upper Cervical Spine, caused by subluxations (misalignments) can have a direct negative impact on sleep, even when there is no pain in the neck or other areas of the body.
You may be a natural correction away from better sleep.
If you live in the Glen Carbon, Maryville or Upper St. Louis area, consider booking a free consultation with one of our Upper Cervical Chiropractors Drs. Thad Vuagniaux and Matt Strazewski. We use the latest in advanced imaging technology along with a holistic wellness approach to empower our patients to achieve their optimal health using gentle corrections and non-invasive approaches.