Sleeping With My Chiropractor...

Better… sleeping better with my chiropractor’s help that is! Having trouble getting a good night’s sleep is a big problem in our country. A recent consumer report survey revealed that 68% of Americans admit to having trouble getting a good night’s sleep at least once a week. Which is evident in the size of the sleep-aid medications market – one of the biggest categories of drugs on the planet in terms of amounts sold… billions every year!

There are lots of things that can affect how well you fall asleep and how well you stay asleep and many of them are obvious. Things like too much time in front of a computer or TV screen, too much sugar and other stimulants in the diet, too much stress, not enough exercise, and/or being overweight are some of the most common reasons. But there’s another reason that people are getting robbed of great sleep and it has nothing to do with the reasons we just mentioned. 

The nervous system controls sleep. Actually, to be more specific it’s the autonomic nervous system that controls sleep. The exact parts of the autonomic nervous system that controls sleep aren’t completely understood yet, but neuroscientists are looking closely at the brainstem. And that makes sense given how many people with upper neck problems also have trouble sleeping. 

There’s a very powerful and unique connection between the upper neck area and the brainstem. If there’s a problem with how the vertebrae in the upper neck are aligned or how they move it will dramatically affect the function of the brainstem. It’s not the pain from the neck problem that disrupts sleep, it’s how the upper neck messes up the nerve circuits in the brainstem. Which is why some people with sleep disorders have no idea their upper neck is the problem. 

There is a small branch of chiropractors that specialize in the upper neck area, they’re called upper cervical chiropractors. These doctors help people that have chronic health problems of all types, including sleep problems. And the reason they have a high rate of success is because of how much the upper neck influences brainstem function. 

Upper cervical chiropractors use infrared thermography (pictured below)to help determine when they need to make an adjustment and they use special x-rays to know exactly where to adjust. 

This is what a thermography scan looks like when there’s a problem in the nervous system.

This is what the thermography scan looks like when the adjustment to the upper neck has improved the function of the nervous system. 

Research about sleep disorders and upper cervical chiropractic:

Kessinger RC, Boneva DV. A New Approach to the Upper Cervical Specific, Knee-Chest Adjusting Procedure: Part I. Chiropr Res J, 2000; 7(1):14-32.

Elster EL. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care for a Nine-Year-Old Male with Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, Asthma, Insomnia, and Headaches: A Case Report. J Vertebral Subluxation Res, July 12, 2003:1-11.

Elster EL. Treatment of Bipolar, Seizure, and Sleep Disorders and Migraine Headaches Utilizing a Chiropractic Technique. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, 2004; 27(3):E5.

Dickholtz M, White E. Improvement in Quality of Life, Sleep & Attention in a Patient with Attention Deficit Disorder Undergoing Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care to Reduce Vertebral Subluxation: A Case Report. J Upper Cervical Chiropr Res, August 27, 2012:71-6.

Roth L, Zelman D, Clum L, Roth J. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care as a Complementary Strategy for Depression and Anxiety: A Prospective Case Series Analysis. J Upper Cervical Chiropr Res, June 20, 2013:49-59.

Malachowski T, Rubinstein R. Improved Health Outcomes in Parkinson’s Disease Utilizing Specific Upper Cervical Chiropractic Protocol: A Case Series. J Upper Cervical Chiropr Res, May 15, 2014:23-33.