Sleep and Chiropractic - How to get Better Sleep in Zionsville
Why do so many people have such a difficult time either falling asleep or staying asleep in Zionsville?
Why is sleep so important in Zionsville?
It's no surprise that today we are living with more stress in our lives than ever before. We're constantly bombarded by the stress of where we need to be, what needs to get done, and the state of our world and environment.
Unfortunately, we sometimes sacrifice getting enough sleep in order to complete all of our tasks. Or maybe we make enough time to get those 8-9 hours in but we just simply have a hard time falling asleep or quieting our brain at the end of the day. Without a good night's sleep, we are left lagging throughout the day and end up relying on things like caffeine for a boost of energy.
While a cup of coffee typically gets the job done to give us that boost of energy... caffeine actually increases one of our stress hormones in the body (Cortisol) and counteracts regular sleeping patterns which can perpetuate a bad sleep cycle.
Sleep Problems are Very Common
In the United States, about 70 million people suffer from some type of sleep problem. Of those 70 million people, 60% endure some type of chronic sleep disorder with "no cure". Many people are left without answers and rely on some form of drug or pharmaceutical to help them fall asleep and stay sleeping. Many of these medications can be habit-forming and can make you reliant on them in order to get a good night's rest. I don't know about you, but I'd rather find other (less addictive) ways to get better sleep
We are here to tell you that there is a more natural way to help you!
How Sleep Works
Sleep is regulated by a balanced autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is responsible for involuntary body control, things like your heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing, and digestion.
The ANS has two categories- Sympathetic and Parasympathetic or respectively "flight or flight" and "rest and digest".
Imagine a teeter-totter. Your body is constantly trying to balance out the scale between "fight or flight" and "rest and digest" and they both can't work at the same time. It's the autonomic nervous system's job to help balance the two sides so that they each get a turn going up and down on the teeter-totter. When these two sides are not in balance, they aren't able to share the teeter-totter equally, one side being stuck up and the other side down.
If the "fight or flight" side is activated for a long period of time, the "rest and digest" side gets dialed down and isn't able to activate. This "rest and digest" side is responsible for coordinating many of the different hormones that are required for proper restful sleep and healing. So if this "rest and digest" side is dialed down for a long time due to chronic activation of "fight or flight", it's no wonder sleep starts to become an issue.
Imbalances in the ANS cause the majority of sleep deprivation issues. Imagine that you are being chased by a tiger...your sympathetic "fight or flight" response kicks into high gear and your body will naturally give you 2 options when faced with such a stressful situation: you would either fight the tiger or run away! With both these two options your cortisol levels rise so you are prepared. Today, it's not often that you have to run or fight a tiger but the hormones remain the same. Cortisol will still make your body react in a similar way even if your "tiger" is the traffic jam or email you forgot to respond to causing you to stress.
The last thing you would want your body to do when faced with a tiger or stressful situation is to tell you it's time to go to sleep. Conversely, when we do want to sleep, we don't want our bodies thinking that we're still trying to fight that tiger. When our bodies are stuck in the "fight or flight response" we are not able to rest or reach that deep sleep our body needs. Finding the balance between the two is essential to proper healing and rest.
How the ANS Communicates and Balances the "Teeter-Totter"
One major component that affects the ANS that typically goes unnoticed or unaddressed is posture and the structure of the spine. The structure and movement of the spine play a vital role in regulating hormone balance within the body. The ANS lives in the spinal cord, so when there's stress on the spine from structural issues or postural problems it can directly impact the way the ANS is able to function
Nerves that come out of the spine are directly connected to the small muscles, ligaments, and joints in and around the spine and form an interface to communicate with every cell in your body. This process is literally happening all day, every day in a continual cycle and we like to call it "the super information highway". Imagine a highway that does not have any interference; no construction, car accidents, or potholes. Traffic can move efficiently in both directions without slowing down or getting backed up.
Our nerves work very similarly to this highway. If there is a misalignment (subluxation) in the spine, the joints are unable to move correctly which can put stress on the nerves and cause a miscommunication on "the super information highway". When there's poor communication, the two systems have a hard time coordinating to achieve balance. When we're able to correct these misalignments, we can reduce irritation on the nerves, and information can flow from the body to the brain and from the brain to the body uninterrupted, allowing the two systems to communicate and balance.
How to Decrease "Fight and Flight" and Increase "Rest and Digest"
The activities below help decrease stress hormones in the body (Cortisol) and help you achieve a more restful state.
- Eating well / decreasing caffeine intake
- Moving your body
- Reducing emotional stress
- Deep breathing
- Getting adjusted by a Chiropractor
You may have heard of the first 4 on that list, but did you know that getting adjusted can also help reduce stress?
Research done in 2020 showed evidence that Chiropractic care helps remove the interference from the ANS to better balance stress hormones in the body. In this study, a 40-year-old patient who suffered from neck pain, headaches, and anxiety underwent 12 weeks of care with a Chiropractor. During the 12 weeks, the patient's cortisol levels were measured to objectively assess her levels of stress. At the end of 12 weeks of care, the patient reported a significant change in her anxiety and the lab results showed significant improvements in her stress hormone balance (decreased Cortisol levels). This makes sense! If you are able to decrease the amount of stress in the body it is better able to adapt and you generally feel and function better.
Another study done in 2005 looked at 154 patients who received chiropractic care. One-third of the people involved in the study reported immediate improvements in their sleep patterns after just one adjustment!
Every adjustment that you receive helps you adapt to stress and reach a more balanced nervous system. The human body is an amazing structure that self-regulates all functions via the nervous system. If the nervous system is communicating with the body effectively we see a more balance of the two branches of the ANS and better sleep naturally.
About the Author
Dr. Ben Hennes decided to become a Chiropractor after seeking care for low back pain and migraines that were making it hard for him to focus on his studies. After a few visits to a Chiropractor, he was no longer having issues with his lower back or migraines and loved how he felt.
Improving health from the inside out in such a natural way made sense for Dr. Ben and he fell in love with the philosophy of Chiropractic.
In his free time, you can find Dr. Ben in the outdoors - hunting, fishing, and exploring. If he isn’t outside he enjoys expanding his knowledge by reading and listening to podcasts.
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