Second Opinion Magazine
Getting Some Zzzzzzz’s
By Emily Smith Nguyen, Smith & Prissel Chiropractic and Massage
“I’m tired….” It’s a refrain I hear in my chiropractic office from both young and old (though sometimes it’s BECAUSE of the young that the “old” are tired!). There are a lot of factors that play into whether we have a good night’s sleep. Here are some helpful suggestions to get and stay asleep:
• Avoid too much or late intake of caffeine
• Limit alcohol consumption before bed
• Avoid late-night snacking (stop eating 3 hours before bed)
• Avoid screens and electronic devices at least 30-60 minutes before bed
• Exercise/move your body 30 minutes daily
• Follow the sun for sleep/wake times
• Keep your bedroom a peaceful place…if this is not an option, due to kids/pets/partner/spouse, just make it a point to do the other above suggestions as best you can!
Aside from the last item from the above list, the most common reason I hear from adults as to why they didn’t sleep well is pain. This could be from a variety of sources, but often it’s pain in the neck or low back that interferes with the ability to find a comfortable position. Since sleep is necessary in order to heal, it’s even more important that those with neck or back issues are able to get the rest they need.
If we look at pain as your body’s way of trying to tell you that something is wrong (rather than something that needs to be covered up), it makes sense to look into the option of trying chiropractic as a way to eliminate or reduce the pain symptoms. Chiropractic care addresses the position of the spinal vertebrae in relation to other vertebrae, discs, nerves and muscles. A misalignment of these vertebrae can lead to pain, and a chiropractic spinal adjustment can help to relieve the cause of that pain.
How you sleep also matters, including having a mattress that is supportive and neither too hard or too soft. The ideal sleeping position, to avoid unnecessary pressure points or twisting within the spine, is to lie on your back, with support under the neck and knees. Side-sleeping is also an option, but make sure to support the space between the ear and outside edge of the shoulder (in order to keep the head in line with the rest of the spine) and use a pillow between the knees (to help hold the pelvis in proper alignment as well). You may have noticed that I didn’t yet mention stomach sleeping, and that is because it would be ideal to avoid this position (due to the excessive one-sided rotation of the neck and typical elevation of one arm overhead). If you must sleep on your stomach, it’s best to lay half side/half stomach with the support of a body pillow underneath you. This will help lessen the negative effects of this sleeping position.
Chiropractic care for babies and children can also be beneficial in ensuring proper sleep for the whole family. Unlike adults, spinal pain is not typically the cause for kiddos waking in the night. Symptoms of growing pains, constipation/gas, headaches, ear pain and frequent illness are often what I hear from exhausted parents. These are all issues that typically improve with the addition of chiropractic care. In fact, I often witness the resolution of constipation before the family is even able to leave the office. It’s also common to hear that children sleep much better after their chiropractic adjustment, which is great because it means that while they are sleeping, their body is able to grow and heal!