Sleep is paramount to an individual’s health and wellbeing, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). Yet millions of Americans report they do not get sufficient sleep, and many suffer from lack of sleep and various sleep disorders.
Studies reveal that more than 40 million Americans suffer from long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million report occasional problems falling or staying asleep.Click To Tweet
Most sufferers either go undiagnosed or do not receive the proper treatment. In addition, a significant percent of people experience daytime sleepiness, reporting that it interferes with their work and personal life.
Life stresses (such as job loss or the death of a loved one), psychological disorders (for example, depression and anxiety), health problems, environmental issues (for example, caffeine or alcohol use), and a host of other causes may disrupt the body’s natural cycle of sleep and daytime wakefulness. As a result of sleep deprivation, the brain stops functioning properly, and you soon experience one or more of the following:
- Memory problems
- Reduced sex drive
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Higher exposure to illness and death
In those who experience sleep deprivation, all major systems of the body are affected, including the central nervous system, immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system. But the price of insufficient sleep is not only the risk of poor health – accidental injury and death are often the result of sleep loss every day on the road. According to a 2014 study from the Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving is the cause of approximately 21 percent of fatal crashes. Every year, an estimated 328,000 car crashes, including 109,000 injury crashes and 6,400 lethal crashes, involve a drowsy driver. Studies also show that poor quality sleep and sleep deprivation are the main cause in many accidents and injuries on the job.
How to Tell If You Are Sleep Deprived
Everyone has difficulty sleeping every once in a while. However, if your lack of sleep is an ongoing issue, and you start noticing its impact on your concentration, memory, and mood, you may have a sleeping problem. Pay close attention to the following warning signs:
- You are constantly tired. Everyone’s sleep needs may vary, but in general, adults need an average of 8 hours of sleep per day to be able to function properly during the 16 hours of wakefulness. If you are getting enough hours of sleep every night and you still find yourself drowsy and sluggish for no apparent reason, it’s usually a sign that something is preventing your brain from resting properly.
- You sleep during the day. It’s perfectly normal to nod off during the day after a sleepless night, but if you’re falling asleep at work or behind the wheel, it may be time to consider whether you have a sleep problem.
- You are unable to concentrate or remember things. Lack of sleep hurts cognitive processes such as thinking and learning by impairing your attention and problem-solving abilities and preventing you from consolidating memories. Sleep-deprived subjects in studies are not only more likely to have poor results in tests requiring concentration, but they also underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation on their ability to focus.
- You experience sleep problems for more than a month. In many cases of sleep disorder, sufferers do not seek the help of their doctor, most of them waiting for the problem to get resolved on its own. If this doesn’t happen, and your brain continues to be sleep-deprived for more than a month, it may be time to consider medication or therapy to get back on track.
Chiropractic Can Improve the Quality of Your Sleep
For those who want to avoid surgery and drug therapy to treat sleep disorders, chiropractic care may be the answer. By correcting the subluxations that compress the spinal nerves and disrupt communication between the spine and the brain, chiropractic adjustments can help you relax and restore your body’s balance. As a result of removing the pressure caused by subluxations, your body will no longer be prevented from resting and functioning normally.
In many cases, sleep disorders are caused by physical problems such as back pain, asthma, restless leg syndrome, and a host of other aches and pains. Through targeted chiropractic adjustments, an experienced chiropractor can address the underlying cause of sleep problems and relieve the pain and discomfort of having to function with a tired brain. In addition, he/she can also offer nutritional and ergonomic advice to help you sleep better and improve the quality of your day-to-day life.
Along with chiropractic care, you can alleviate insomnia and other sleep disorders by making certain changes in your lifestyle. These include:
- Reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Avoiding watching television one hour before going to bed
- Improving dietary habits
- Sticking to a sleep schedule
- Creating a proper sleep environment
- Limiting daytime naps
- Managing stress and anxiety
Contact your local chiropractic office to find out more about what’s causing your restless nights and what can be done to get rid of your sleep problems once and for all.
About the Author
Dr. Marc Browner is the Founder of iChiropractic and Wellness in Naples, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.