How to Maximize Chiropractic Effectiveness Part III: Sleep
Chiropractor sleep tips. Poor sleep habits and hygiene have long-lasting negative effects on a person’s overall health. In a recent Ted Talk, prominent sleep scientist Matt Walker references a study that found restricting a group of people’s sleep to four hours for just one night resulted in a 70% drop in immune cell activity. A full night of sleep isn’t a luxury, it's a necessity – especially for people recovering from an injury or receiving acute chiropractic care.
Now, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesotans are some of the healthiest sleepers in the country. But even so, nearly 30% of the people in our state get less than the minimum seven hours per night. If you’re one of them, there are a few things you should know.
How Sleep Affects Chiropractic Care
Your body is anything but inactive when you sleep. On the contrary, one of the primary functions of getting some shut-eye is so your brain and muscles can devote more energy to recovering from the wear and tear of daily life.
During the deeper stages of sleep, blood flow to the muscles increases, delivering oxygen and nutrients crucial for repair. During this time, the body also releases growth hormones that help rebuild tissues and bones and enhance muscle mass.
A chiropractic session involves a trained chiropractor using hands-on spinal manipulation and manual adjustments to realign the body’s musculoskeletal structure. After receiving chiropractic care, your spine and surrounding tissues undergo a natural healing process. Muscles that may have been tense or spasming due to misalignments can start to relax. Inflamed areas begin to reduce in swelling. The body starts to acclimate to its new, correct alignment. However, this healing isn’t instantaneous. It requires time and, more critically, the regenerative power of sleep.
In the nights that follow a chiropractic session, your body gets to work rebuilding muscle tissues, removing toxins, and filtering out waste products caused by misalignments and injuries. The more healthy sleep you get, the faster you can recover from a car accident, work injury, or poor movement-related habits.
But even if you aren’t worried about immune health, cognitive function, and muscle recovery, you’d probably love to improve your sleep. Everyone wants to wake up feeling energetic and refreshed. While some people have a harder time with that than others, there are a few surefire hacks for better sleep hygiene.
How to Sleep After a Chiropractic Adjustment
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for people who struggle to get enough sleep. Problems range from psychological factors that result in insomnia to physiological factors that lead to sleep apnea. What helps one person sleep better may not help another. However, decades of rigorous sleep research have revealed several truths that apply to diverse populations.
Lower (or raise) the thermostat. In the evening, your body’s core temperature drops slightly as it prepares for sleep. Studies have found that when you lay down for bed in a room around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. There is one caveat, though. People start having a harder time staying warm as they age and need slightly higher bedtime temperatures. Try adjusting the thermostat to 70 degrees for a week and see if that helps.
Change your evening eating and drinking habits. Dietary choices have an extraordinary impact on our day-to-day mood and energy levels. And we wrote an entire article around the relationship between nutrition and chiropractic care. When it comes to sleep optimization, there are two things to watch out for. First, avoid any caffeine after lunch. Caffeine remains in your system for much longer than most people realize, and having a Coke with dinner at 5pm might affect your ability to fall asleep at 9pm.
The other thing to avoid is to avoid heavy meals for dinner. Digesting food takes a lot of energy, making it harder to relax and fall asleep. And on top of that, lying down after eating can cause acid reflux or indigestion. Try to finish eating at least three hours before bedtime so your body has ample time to process the meal before you hit the sack.
Dim the living room and bedroom lights. As the sun goes down and your surroundings get darker, your body produces more of the hormone melatonin, which acts as a biological cue that it’s time for bed. Blue light tricks our brains into thinking it’s still daytime. In response, our bodies suppress melatonin production, and falling asleep becomes harder. At least one hour before bedtime (ideally, two), start turning off (or dimming) your household lights and screens.
Get into a regular sleep schedule. Your body operates on an internal clock that thrives on consistency. In fact, a study from 2020 found that irregular sleep schedules doubled the chance of cardiovascular disease and significantly increased risks of mood disorders. But when you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, seven days a week, your body begins to develop a rhythm, and getting eight solid hours of sleep becomes second nature. While staying out later on Saturday night is tempting, your Sunday (and Monday) will be sluggish.
Create a very specific bedtime regimen. Your nutrition, temperature, lighting, and schedule can signal your body that it’s time for sleep. The same applies to specific actions you take when crawling into bed. Pick a few healthy habits you can do in the bedroom to create even more triggers. Maybe reading a book, running through a guided breathing exercise, or doing some gentle stretches from our 4-week flexibility plan.
After a few pre-bedtime habits, actively think about how to decompress your spine while sleeping. For most people, that’s a sleep supine position, lying on your back in a way that keeps your spine supported and in a neutral position. You might want to experiment with slightly elevating your feet. After a long day, this can provide relief while also promoting better circulation.
Sleep Better With Chiropractic Care in Maple Grove
While healthier sleep significantly boosts the benefits of chiropractic treatments, receiving the right adjustments makes it easier to get high-quality shut-eye. With the personalized, holistic chiropractic care from Dr. Tieri at Total Spine Health & Injury Center in Maple Grove, you get everything you need to improve your quality of life.
Stop by our clinic or schedule a consultation today through our website to make meaningful improvements to your overall health and well-being.