A good night of sleep is one of the pillars of health because this is the time the body is able to heal and repair. Sleep is an essential period allowing the body to recuperate from the effects and challenges of daily life on both body and mind.
It has become increasingly more difficult for many people to disconnect – from cell phones, tablets, laptops, television, music players – resulting in a lack of rest and chronic sleep deprivation. Interrupted or impaired sleeping patterns can have serious, far reaching effects on health, such as:
- Weakened immune system
- Accelerated tumor growth
- Impaired memory and ability to recollect
- Decreased physical and mental performance
- Less melatonin -> inability to suppress free radicals
- Increased adrenal stress
So the question is: what can be done for a better night of sleep? Below are some suggestions that may bring you to a more peaceful slumber and a refreshed awakening the next day:
- Limiting stimulants (caffeine and alcohol) during the day and before bed
- Avoiding sensitive foods (sugar, grains, dairy) & eating easily digestible foods before bed
- Keeping the bedroom cool
- Exercising regularly (as little as 30 minutes a day)
- Choosing a mattress to promote healthy spinal alignment
- A well built mattress with the right amount of firmness (the firmer the better) without being stiff
- Choosing a proper sleeping position
- Sleeping on the back or the side with enough support under the neck in order to maintain a neutral spine through the body
- Avoid sleeping on the stomach to decrease pressure on joints and muscles, as well as decreasing strain on the facet joints in the lower back due to excessive curvature while on the stomach
- Cautiously consider natural sleep enhancers
- Valerian root, 5-HTP, and L-theanine are some possibilities, but not to be taken without speaking to your health care provider!
- Melatonin should be considered WITH EXTREME CAUTION, especially if the person is of child-bearing ability for both females and males. NEVER to be used by a child!
Sleeping pills should be avoided for a number of reasons:
- Highly addictive, not intended for long-term use
- Significant risks and side effects: memory impairment and amnesia, nervousness, confusion, hallucinations, bizarre behavior, and extreme irritability, aggressiveness, increased feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide
- Study: Increased risk of mortality prematurely
- Impairs the ability to reach the deeper stages of sleep
- Feeling sluggish and lethargic upon awakening
Sleep disturbances should be taken with a lot of consideration, as it is a vital function in the nervous-system-modulated process of the brain. As a chiropractor, keeping the nervous system is the optimal mission and is facilitated though proper spinal health. Chiropractic allows the body to release the accumulated physical, mental, and chemical stress and further allows the appropriate alignment and movement in the spine and its structures. So do take that in consideration when assessing your sleeping patterns.
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