You probably spend more time sleeping than doing anything else in your life, even if you are battling a debilitating condition like insomnia. Why is sleep so important? How can you get the sleep you need (7-8 hours) at night instead of napping throughout the day after a restless night? Why can a gentle adjustment at the base of your skull be exactly what you need in order to sleep better? We’re going to address the answers to these questions and more in our article. If you suffer from insomnia, there is hope, and it doesn’t have to come from a pill bottle!
Statistics Regarding Sleep
More than 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep according to the CDC. They found even more interesting things while researching sleep by demographic. For example, people with jobs are more likely to get 7 or more hours of sleep at night than those who are unemployed. Stress over finances and trying to find a job may contribute to those sleepless nights.
Certain states and even certain races were more likely to get the proper amount of sleep. Another telling statistic was that 5% more married people slept through the night than those who were never married and 11% more than those who went through a divorce, separation, or death of a mate.
It is clear that stress and emotional trauma play a role in sleep. But could physical trauma also be an issue? Before we discuss potential underlying causes of a lack of sleep, let’s recount some of the important benefits of getting the right amount of sleep.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep affects just about every part of our life. Consider the following reasons that sleeping well at night is an absolute necessity:
- Emotional well-being – While you sleep, your brain is working out what it needs to for the next day. Without a good night’s rest, you may be more likely to struggle with depression, mood swings, stress, or a lack of motivation.
- Cognitive function -Research reveals that a well-rested brain can learn faster and is better at problem-solving. It helps memory as well as the ability to make good decisions.
- Physical well-being – A lack of sleep can lead to heart disease, stroke, obesity, higher blood sugar levels, inhibited growth and development, and lead to reduced immune system function.
- Safety – Studies show that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Being sleepy can affect your performance on the job or at school and lead to risk-taking or mistakes that could be dangerous in some situations.
Yes, sleep is vital to life! So let’s consider the way that brain function, specifically brainstem function, affects sleep. This will help us to discover a natural way to cope with insomnia.
The Role of the Brainstem in Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep
Researchers don’t fully understand how the sleep process works, but they know enough to recognize the role of the brainstem. This part of the body that controls many of the processes that take place without conscious decision making (i.e., breathing) also sends the signals that the body uses to regulate its own internal clock (called a circadian clock). That means both the sleep and wake cycles are dependent on the brainstem.
When you are falling asleep, your body does a number of things automatically. Blood sugar levels are regulated as is blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and so on. Hormones are released into the body that set this process in motion. When you wake up, the opposite needs to occur. Your body has to increase things like blood sugar levels and blood pressure along with releasing certain hormones in order to wake you up from sleep.
So clearly, brainstem function is important to sleep. But what can affect brainstem function? Here’s a short and simple anatomy lesson.
The vertebrae are circular and provide protection for the spinal cord which runs through the vertebrae. The brainstem is where the brain meets the spinal cord. The top vertebra in the neck (called the C1 or atlas) surrounds and protects the brainstem.
However, this also means that proper alignment of the atlas plays a major role in brainstem function. Even being a little out of place can take the atlas from being a protector to applying pressure to the brainstem and inhibiting optimal function. So how can you know if your atlas is in place and correct the problem if it is not?
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care and Brainstem Function
Upper cervical chiropractors are few and far between because this is a very specific subspecialty that focuses in the atlas. When the atlas is misaligned by a mere fraction of a millimeter, long-term problems can arise. That’s why this niche has arisen. Upper cervical practitioners take measurements down to hundredths of a degree and provide gentle and precise corrections that don’t involve any of the popping or cracking that you probably associate with chiropractic care.
If you are suffering from insomnia or other sleep issues, the atlas is one place you should be looking to for natural relief, especially if you have any personal history of head or neck trauma. To learn more about upper cervical chiropractic and the overall health benefits that it has to offer, use the search feature on this site to locate a doctor near you. Your initial examination may be your first step toward sleeping better and enjoying the many other positive results that patients are experiencing thanks to upper cervical care.