Sleep, we all need it but what happens when you aren’t getting enough? Apart from making us feel lousy, a lack of sleep can have some quite serious health impacts.
GENERAL HEALTH RISKS IF WE DON’T SLEEP WELL:
Personal safety: If you don’t get sufficient sleep you place yourself and others at risk of work-related injuries and road accidents.
Mood: Without a good night’s sleep a person can feel very irritable, impatient and generally a bit emotional. Being able to concentrate on tasks becomes a challenge, which further impacts an already negative emotional state.
Learning and memory: The more tired you are the more you will struggle with learning new information as well as general memory function.
Cardiovascular health: Those with serious sleep disorders are at high risk of hypertension, irregular heartbeat and increased stress hormones.
Disease: The more sleep we lose the weaker our immune system becomes, which makes us more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Weight gain: Scientists have found a direct link between chronic sleep deprivation and weight gain because the body’s ability to process and store carbohydrates alters with continued lack of sleep.
Some studies indicate that there is an increase in levels of cortisol (stress hormone) when the body’s circadian rhythms are disturbed. When these levels remain high for a prolonged period of time, bone density reduces as well as muscle mass. The immune system weakens, fat accumulates in the abdomen area and it impacts the functioning of the thyroid gland.
THE BENEFITS OF REGULAR SLEEP:
Our body replenishes: Sleep is when our body goes into repair mode. Cells produce more protein, which is used to repair any damage while we sleep. Muscle injuries and other trauma heals faster while we are asleep.
Decreases depression: Without adequate sleep our body is not able to properly regulate serotonin levels. When our serotonin levels are where they should be we feel happy and we’re more productive.
Reduces chronic inflammation: Some studies suggest that there is an association with chronic inflammation disorders and the increase of stress hormones caused by the lack of sleep. Some of these chronic inflammation disorders include atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart conditions and cancer.
Reduces stress: When we lack sleep our body enters a state of stress. Blood pressure increases, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. A good night’s sleep can break the cycle of stress and counteract health impacts caused by stress.
Keeps our heart healthy: If we get 7-9 hours of sleep a night this significantly reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
COMMON CAUSES OF SLEEP DISORDERS INCLUDE:
Poor mattress and/or pillow
Too much caffeine intake
Snacking before bed
Too much alcohol
Too much stimulation (i.e. the television or computer)
Smoking cigarettes (especially within 30 minutes of going to bed)
Stress (relationships with loved ones, work problems, financial problems)
An injury or health ailment
HOW TO GET A BETTER NIGHT’S SLEEP:
Reduce environmental factors: Cutting back on stressors on the body, such as alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and sugar, can help to improve sleep patterns.
Try to get some exercise: Even 20 or 30 minutes of exercise a day will help your body to relax more when you are ready for bed.
Develop a sleep pattern: This is even true for shift workers. Develop a nightly (or daily) pattern that helps you wind down. It may be as simple as a cup of warm milk, some soft music or five minutes of quiet time just before bed. Over time this will help signal to your body that it’s time for sleep.
Stop screen time: It has been proven that working on smartphones, computers and other smart devices impacts the body’s ability to wind down. Even television impacts our ability to sleep. Try to turn off all of these devices at least an hour before bed.
Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to flush your kidneys and generally cleanse your whole system. Just don’t drink too much before bedtime otherwise you will be up in the night!
Have good bedding: If your mattress and pillow are too soft or too hard it will impact your ability to sleep. Find the right mattress and pillow that will provide proper support for you so that you can feel comfortable all night long and wake up feeling great too.
Sleeping pills are not recommended because, even if they work, they are only masking the real problem and may cause side effects.
Chiropractic care can help you get the sleep you need. This type of treatment improves the blood flow in the nervous system and it corrects any misalignments or subluxations in the spine that may be causing your sleep problems.
Subluxations compress the nerve, which causes a lack of communication between the spine and the brain. This can lead to a stress response that puts the body out of balance, so sleep becomes a challenge. This can be easily treated with chiropractic care.
Regular chiropractic care can also solve several other problems that may be the cause of sleepless nights such as back pain, breathing problems, and restless leg syndrome. Many people are thrilled with how well their sleep has improved after getting regular wellness adjustments. Regular chiropractic care has been shown to improve the symptoms and conditions of insomnia patients by helping them to sleep better and, as a result, improve the quality of their daily life.
Chiropractors can also provide advice and assistance with supportive mattresses and pillows.
Chiropractic care isn’t just for adults suffering with sleep disorders; children can also greatly benefit from chiropractic treatment.