fbpx How Chiropractic Can Help You Get Restorative Sleep
How Chiropractic Can Help You Get Restorative Sleep

How Chiropractic Can Help You Get Restorative Sleep

Sleep apps. White noise. Meditation. Chamomile tea. Magnesium. Melatonin spray. Have you tried one or more of these in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep? If sound sleep eludes you, you’re not alone. Between 50 to 70 million Americans1 are not getting the sleep they need to fully recover from their day and restore their functions.  

Many of them are beginning to wonder: Can chiropractic help with sleep problems? According to the National Sleep Foundation2 , a third of people who receive chiropractic adjustments say their sleep improves immediately. Harvard Health3 recommends adjustments “to relieve pain and improve function and to help the body heal itself.” 

Discover for yourself how chiropractic care, in conjunction with good sleep hygiene, can help turn draining, poor-quality sleep into exhilarating, restorative sleep. Can chiropractic help with sleep problems, pain and tense muscles? Read on to learn exactly how chiropractic can help you get the restorative sleep you need to feel your best. 

What is Restorative Sleep and Why is it So Important?

Restorative sleep is sleep that powers the natural brain repair you need nightly for optimal function, immune response, alertness, positive mood and enhanced sex drive. The only driver of restorative sleep is a healthy sleep-wake cycle (or circadian rhythm).  

If you want to fully recover from the exertion and stress of yesterday and restore functions for tomorrow, you need to get at least 7 hours of restorative sleep. Your brain needs to alternate between 5 light and deep sleep stages: light theta wave sleep, true light theta sleep, light delta wave sleep, deep slow wave delta sleep and finally, rapid eye movement sleep (REM).

Sleep Cycle

Sleeping through this cycle nightly activates your metabolism (all the chemical processes that provide your energy) like: 

  • Flushing glial cells to rid your body of plaque and waste 
  • Strengthening mitochondria (the body’s engine cells) 
  • Stimulating hormones and neurotransmitters (to regulate appetite, metabolism and stress response) 
  • Creating new neural connections (to boost concentration and memory) 

Can chiropractic help with sleep problems that disrupt this cycle? To answer that question, you need to understand exactly what’s disrupting your sleep and making your daily functions less than optimal. 

Disruptors of Restorative Sleep

There are myriad factors that can disrupt your sleep cycle, but researchers have established the following as the most common: 

Pain and Discomfort

Decades worth of research4 has shown that chronic pain is a common contributor to poor sleep quality — over half of adults experience back pain, 38 million Americans struggle with migraines and chronic headaches5 and insomnia6 affects over a third of us. The Neuropsychopharmacology Journal7 found that pain and discomfort can cause poor sleep by lowering the body’s threshold for pain.  

Can chiropractic help with sleep problems? Yes, because it can help relieve and manage pain. Chiropractic for neck pain, chiropractic for shoulder pain and back pain chiropractic are common contributors to a good night’s sleep. 

Insomnia

Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting enough sleep to feel rested sums up insomnia. It’s a very complex condition, as its root cause can vary widely, including:

  • Psychiatric and medical conditions 
  • Unhealthy sleep habits 
  • Use of certain substances (including alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications) 
  • Chronic neck and back pain 

Identifying the root cause is the first step in your DC’s care plan.  Can chiropractic help with sleep problems like insomnia? If pain or discomfort has been identified as the root cause, yes, chiropractic — combined with other therapeutics and lifestyle changes — can help alleviate the condition and restore sound sleep. 

Blocked Airways

When mouth and throat soft tissues relax so much during sleep that they block the upper airway, a patient is diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). More than 22 million Americans8 live with some form of momentary apneas — 10-20 second pauses in inhalation — several times every hour. That’s long enough to lower oxygen levels in their blood, alerting their brain to wake up the rest of their body to restart the breathing cycle. Such disruptions (sometimes 30 per night) make it impossible to get restorative sleep and can, with time, contribute to other serious health conditions.

Blocked Airway

Benefits of Chiropractic Adjustments

Your spinal cord is housed inside your spine where it’s protected by strong, bony vertebrae. As your spine shifts positions after years’ worth of falls and traumas, it brings your spinal cord with it. A misaligned spinal cord affects various areas of your body. 

For decades, medical journals have been documenting9 how chiropractic for neck pain, chiropractic for shoulder pain and back pain chiropractic can promote the following benefits for patients with sleep disorders:

  • Relieving pain and discomfort: it’s difficult to fall asleep when you’re uncomfortable, which is why the American College of Physicians10 recommends spinal adjustments along with heat, massage, and acupuncture for low back pain
  • Easing muscle tension: any body part that’s too tense and restless to relax will have trouble falling asleep
  • Stimulating circulation: low circulation can make you too cold for sleep
  • Promoting proper breathing: the proper posture that alignment encourages can promote healthy breathing to strengthen the soft tissues that cause snoring and apneas
Neck Adjustment

How Chiropractic Adjustments Promote Restorative Sleep

It’s easy to observe that the gentle adjustments your DC delivers to your misaligned joints can be effective at reducing your pain and relieving tight, tense muscles. Other sleep and wellness promoting functions of adjustments may not be as obvious. 

Your misaligned vertebrae can put pressure on your nerves (often called “pinched nerves”), interfering with the neural communication that controls your breathing. Chiropractic realignment can correct neck curvature, mitigating that interference to improve sleep quality and even help you stop snoring (which can lead to apnea). 

Misalignments and muscle tension can also increase production of your body’s stress hormone cortisol. Realigning your spine and releasing pressure from your nerves can help naturally lower your cortisol levels. 

Research demonstrating these functions is continually being published in journals like:

  • The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics11 where researchers demonstrated that after a chiropractic adjustment, electrical muscular activity was reduced by 25% 
  • The Journal of Manipulative Physiotherapy12 which published research demonstrating that chiropractic adjustments significantly improve sleep for insomnia patients 
  • The Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders13 documented how adjustments also help balance levels of dopamine and serotonin (feel-good chemicals) in the brain to combat anxiety-induced insomnia 
  • The Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research14 which described a case study of corrective chiropractic care and dietary modification resolving long term obstructive sleep apnea 

Perusing decades worth of studies can help you conclusively answer the question ‘Can chiropractic help with sleep problems?’ Every day more chiropractors across the country are applying the latest research15 which shows that combining chiropractic adjustments with active therapies promotes faster, more effective injury recovery and function restoration. 

Tips and Exercises for Falling and Staying Asleep

Too bad we all can’t fall asleep on our DC’s drop table and stay there all night. The good news is that your DC can complement chiropractic for neck pain, chiropractic for shoulder pain and back pain chiropractic with recommendations for optimal sleeping positions, supportive mattresses, ergonomic pillows and breathing exercises to strengthen the soft tissues that cause snoring.

In order to get the minimal 7 hours of sleep you need, try following the 10-3-2-1 rule before bed:

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10 Hours: No More Caffeine

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3 Hours: No Food or Alcohol

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2 Hours: No More Work

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1 Hour: No More Screen Time

  • Shut off all phones, TVs and computers 
  • Take a warm shower — when you get out your body cool down to a calming sleep temperature 
  • Set the temperature in your room to between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dim the lights, and put curtains over the windows to block light from the outside
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4-7-8 Breathing Exercise


Finally, before snuggling in, stretch in any way that’s comfortable for you, then try this 4-7-8 breathing exercise:

  • Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth during the entire exercise 
  • Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds 
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds 
  • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds, allowing your exhale to make a natural sound like you’re blowing out a candle 

Just like other breathing exercises, practice this technique for a few minutes then increase the time as you get comfortable with it (you may even drift off before you can finish).

Ready to Take Your Sleep Hygiene (and Wellness Goals) into Your Own Hands?

Check in with your nearest Chiro One doc at one of our welcoming open-plan clinics across the country. They’ll explore the root cause of your pain with a thorough exam, then personalize a care plan — a combination of gentle chiropractic adjustments and active therapies.

Find a Chiro One doctor near you

Sources:


  1. Sleep Disorders, 2022
  2. How Visiting the Chiropractor Can Help You Get More Sleep, 2022
  3. Chiropractic care for pain relief, 2021
  4. The association of sleep and pain: an update and a path forward, 2013
  5. Prevalence and burden of migraine in the United States: data from the American Migraine Study II, 2001
  6. Insomnia, 2022
  7. Sleep deficiency and chronic pain: potential underlying mechanisms and clinical implications, 2019
  8. Sleep Apnea, 2022
  9. Clinical Effectiveness and Efficacy of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Spine Pain, 2021
  10. American College of Physicians issues guideline for treating nonradicular low back pain, 2017
  11. Changes in electrical activity in muscles resulting from chiropractic adjustment: a pilot study, 1987
  12. Insomnia: does chiropractic help?, 2005
  13. Journal of Sleep Medicine & Disorders Central The Chiropractic Subluxation and Insomnia: Could there be a Connection, 2015
  14. Resolution of Sleep and Anxiety Disorder Following Reduction of Vertebral Subluxations: A Case Study & Review of the Literature Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, 2022
  15. Predictors of Response to Exercise Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain: Result of a Prospective Study With One Year Follow-up, 2014