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Is it Nap Time Yet? The Importance of Sleep from a Chiropractor’s Point of View.

sleep chiropractor

Written by Dr. Derek Larsen DC

March 5, 2022

Is it nap time yet? Yes! absolutely, especially if you feel like you need some sleep. I was struggling to write this and found that I couldn’t concentrate so I decided to take a 20-minute power nap. Now I am ready to talk about the importance of sleep. Sleep has been a big topic lately at the office. Sleep is the time when the mind and the body can heal. With chronic sleep deprivation, we actually start to see signs of overall health decrease, check out this article if you want more information on sleep deprivation. Today we are going to talk about the benefits of proper sleep as well as how to get better sleep naturally. 

Why is sleep important

Sleep is so important that we devote on average ⅓ of our lives to it. ⅓ of our lives is a ton of time to devote to anything, so what makes sleep so important? Sleep allows for the brain and body to recover. I have been reading a few studies about how this happens and how the body utilizes sleep to recover is quite interesting. The first study I read looked at mice and found that the cells responsible for the immune response called glial cells or microglia become more active at night, suggesting that they are on clean-up duty at night. Next, I read a few studies that looked at the clear fluid that surrounds the brain known as cerebrospinal fluid or CSF. CSF has a major role in cushioning and protecting the brain and the spinal cord. We are beginning to figure out that this fluid plays a major role in “washing the brain”. CSF has access to more portions of the brain than the blood does and so in those areas, the CSF can wash in and out as it pumps through the brain, removing unwanted material. The activity of that pumping becomes more active with sleep and is associated with breath specifically the inhalations. All this being said, the healthier you sleep the cleaner your brain can become, I can’t say the same thing about cleaning up the mind.

How much sleep should we be getting?

The sleep goal for adults should be around 7-9 hours per night. That number varies a lot between individuals and it is up to you to figure out what works best for you by listening to your body and sleeping when you’re tired. Children need quite a bit more sleep than adults do. Newborns should be getting up to 16 hours of sleep per day. As children age their sleep need wains slowly and if you want more information on how much sleep children need at different ages check out this article.

How do we get more restful sleep?

The goal of sleeping is sleep not just laying in bed wondering how soon the alarm is going to go off. Here are a few ideas you can implement to get yourself to sleep faster and improve your quality of sleep. 

Create a routine.

We are wired into a system known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm is a pattern that your body innately follows based mainly on light exposure, as well as a few other things. As the sun starts to drop down below the horizon the body releases a hormone known as melatonin which tells the body that it is time to shut down and sleep. Creating a routine in which you go to bed and get up at the same time every day helps the body follow that circadian rhythm more effectively. 

Limit screen time around bedtime.

The blue light emitted by screens is the same blue light that tells our bodies that it’s time to be awake. Watching a screen for the hours leading up to bedtime is akin to the sun never going down so the body thinks that it is supposed to be awake. Limiting screen time around bedtime will greatly improve your sleep 

Sleep in a cooler environment

The body tends to like a cooler environment for sleep. Our bodies like that cooler environment for sleep so much that we typically drop our body temperature a few degrees when we sleep. Try sleeping in a slightly cooler room to improve your sleep.

Take a hot bath or shower

It sounds counterintuitive at first because the body is trying to lower the body temperature as bedtime comes around so why would you take a hot shower? Taking a hot shower or bath starts up the body’s natural cooling system. When you are done with your hot shower or bath that system is working hard to cool the body down so when you climb into bed you will be on a cooling trend which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. 

Have a warm drink 

A warm drink before bed such as caffeine-free tea can be a great aid in getting to sleep. The warm drink can help relax you and get you ready to doze off into dreamland. 

What is good sleep posture?

Sleeping on your back is the best posture for your spine as long as your head isn’t elevated too high. The goal with posture, sleeping or awake, is to maintain good alignment of the spine. This means having your ears over the center of your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips. This can best be achieved on your back with what is known as a cervical roll pillow. A cervical roll pillow is a cylinder pillow that fits under your neck and allows your head to rest on the bed. This type of pillow supports the natural curve in your neck and promotes good posture. 

Side sleepers also have to maintain that healthy alignment of the spine. You do not want your head to be tilted too high or too low you want your neck to be in line with your back. 

For the belly sleepers out there, I’m sorry, I know it’s comfortable but it is not the best posture to sleep in. try sleeping on your back or side for better sleep posture. It takes some time to learn but it is doable. 

Sleep and chiropractic 

One of my favorite things to hear from people who have just started care is, “I am sleeping so much better”. I love hearing this for two reasons the first is because I know Sleep is vastly important for the health and wellbeing of the nervous system. If an individual is sleeping better that means they are healing better. The second reason is that I get to geek out about how the adjustment can help with sleep, I think the process is amazing, and here is what happens. When an individual becomes subluxated the spine has lost some bit of motion. With the loss of motion in the spine comes a cascade of other things that happen. The spine moves with every breath we take, the sacrum the thoracic spine, and the cervical spine all have to move. That motion helps in pumping the CSF that we talked about earlier through the cavities of the brain and spinal canal. Without breath and proper movement, the nervous system loses its ability to circulate that fluid, and therefore the action of the CSF fluid in cleaning the brain slows. Get adjusted, take a deep breath, fall asleep and let your brain go through the wash and rinse cycle. 

 

We look forward to meeting you! Come down to Happy Family Chiropractic and meet your Chiropractor in Juneau! It will be our pleasure in serving you high quality chiropractic care. 

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We are located at 800 Glacier Ave in Juneau, Alaska. Book an appointment today!

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If you liked this post, share it with your friends! It will really help my practice grow. -Dr. Derek