Not just a sleep specialist, a chiropractor can help by creating better balance — homeostasis — in the body
We all need sleep in order for maximum function. Especially in today’s non-stop world, with everything we do throughout a day, our bodies and mind need time to rest and regroup. That’s why when we don’t get enough sleep, we really feel it, and may develop patterns where we need the help of a sleep specialist.
An alternative to coffee and sleeping pills
For some, lack of sleep may result in them turning to caffeine or energy drinks throughout the day — which isn’t the healthiest thing to do — nor is turning to sleeping pills when it’s time for bed. For others, not getting enough sleep can make it seemingly impossible to work, concentrate, or do much of anything.
So how can chiropractic care and your very own sleep specialist help? Michael Gottfried, DC, is a chiropractic physician at Aquidneck Chiropractic, in Middletown, R.I., and has practiced for 40 years. He’s also served as the host of the podcast, Get a Spine with the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island.
Gottfried answered our questions about how chiropractic care can help people get better sleep, provide your personal sleep specialist, and how it can affect the immune system.
How can chiropractic care and stretching help patients to sleep better?
Have you ever tried to get a good night’s sleep, when you are in pain originating from your back, neck, head, leg, etc.? It’s not easy to do. The most obvious way that chiropractic can promote sound sleep is through neuromuscular pain modulation.
But chiropractic is not just for back pain relief. It helps by creating better balance — homeostasis — in the body, normalizing neuromusculoskeletal function, enhancing muscle tone, influencing the autonomic nervous system, calming the systemic stress response by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system/inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system, or interestingly, in a low energy person, stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, depending upon what is needed.
How does this type of sleep specialist care also help to boost patients’ immunity?
Getting back specifically to chiropractic and sleep — we know that the nervous system controls body functions. Chiropractic helps by locating and correcting subluxation — neuromusculoskeletal imbalance — by gently influencing joint alignment to alleviate nerve pressure allowing the nerve impulses to flow more freely in the sensory/somatic feedback loop. This allows for unimpeded neural plasticity or brain remodeling. This allows for healthier functioning of the immune, endocrine, digestive systems, etc.
What about other sleep-aid recommendations?
Chiropractors oftentimes recommend cervical pillows, specifically made to support the cervical curve. Your mattress should be relatively new, with no body indentations. While we often get asked for a specific mattress recommendation, it’s tough to tell a patient to spend a few thousand dollars and then have them come back and say it’s not comfortable.
Because couples often have different body types (e.g. 5’5”, 120-pound female and 6’0”, 200-pound male) the recommendation that makes some sense is a variable-control air mattress. This allows for each person to customize the firmness that they require.
Can one chiropractic session lead to better sleep?
One visit is possible if the cause of the sleep issue is acute and very short-lived. But the reality for most chiropractic patients is that multiple visits are required based on the severity, chronicity, comorbidities, etc. Biologic individuality is the term that recognizes each person’s uniqueness. I’d also like to give credit to Dr. Heidi Haavik for her great little book “The Reality Check” and her research on the benefits of chiropractic.