Aug 28, 2023
5 Natural Sleep Aids and The Dreams I Tell My Chiropractor
In a world of never-ending breaking news alerts, constant panic about what will happen when all the bees die, and having to jump through hoops to get a ticket to the Taylor Swift concert, there are a lot of people staying up way past their bedtime.
As a chiropractor for sleep disorders, I know that they’re awake against their will, but the era’s hustle and bustle makes it near impossible for people to wind down and relax at the end of the day. This is problematic because there isn’t anything people love to talk about more than how tired they are. Luckily, we have some natural sleep aids to help you feel restored again!
In addition to the social nuisance, lack of sleep is a heavy burden on our health. Sleep is foundational to our ability to function optimally throughout the day. It is integral to:
- Restoration and Repair: The ultimate R&R. Sleep allows our bodies to repair and restore themselves, helping to reduce inflammation, repair damaged tissues, and strengthen our immune system. This helps reduce the risk of developing chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
- Cognitive Function: Sleep is critical for optimal cognitive function, including memory consolidation, learning, and problem-solving. Getting enough sleep can help improve our focus, concentration, and productivity.
- Emotional Well-being: Sleep plays a significant role in regulating our emotions and mood. Not getting enough sleep can make us more irritable, anxious, and prone to depression.
- Physical performance: Adequate sleep is essential for physical performance, helping us to perform better in athletic and other physical activities. Good sleep can also help reduce the risk of injury and improve recovery time.
- Longevity: Studies have shown that getting enough sleep is linked to a longer life expectancy.
These are the arguments my mom should have used when I was in high school and wanted to stay up late to watch the rebroadcast of Oprah. Actual footage from those arguments:
God bless my mom; she really put up with a lot.
The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep a night to fit in 4-5 REM cycles. REM sleep is vital for memory, emotional processing, and healthy brain development. If we don’t get enough sleep, we’ll wake up groggy, lack energy during the day, feel hungry often, lack the will to exercise, and be forgetful and irritable.
Many people turn to over-the-counter medication and sleep aids to get to bed each night, and we all know how I feel about that:
Of course, if we’re dealing with more intense sleep disorders, we’ll want to address that head-on. But for those struggling to get quality sleep, it may be time to consider some simple lifestyle changes that will help us get to sleep naturally.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Our mind and body love routine. Running through the same pattern every night will teach our brain that it’ll be sleeping soon and it can relax rather than worry that it’ll be up for another four hours processing the highs and lows of eight housewives who live in Beverly Hills.
Irregular sleep patterns interrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and interfere with sleep. Our circadian rhythm is the behavioral, physical, and mental changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. One of its primary functions is determining whether the body is ready for sleep. Our “biological clock,” as it were, releases hormones to help induce sleep or wake us up. Going to bed at the same time every night primes that clock and allows our body to predict when to induce sleep and when to wake us up.
Don’t forget to incorporate a digital sunset into this pattern. Blue light from our cell phones or TVs blocks the hormonal changes necessary to make us sleepy. Staring at a screen before bed will make it harder for our body to adjust its circadian rhythm.
The Right Sleep Environment
As a child, my dad would turn off the AC at night because “no one is even awake to enjoy it.” It was an effort to save money, but it turned the whole family against him. As one could imagine, it was quite challenging to sleep in the height of a midwest summer, and “just open a window” wasn’t a great solution when the humidity at night didn’t dip below 75%.
Creating the right sleep environment will help us feel relaxed and comfortable, two simple but critical feelings to get a good night’s sleep. The right environment for sleep means:
- No lights (duh)
- No noise (white noise approved)
- A cool temperature (between 60-67)
- A pillow designed around our sleep habits (side or back sleeper, never stomach)
- A mattress that didn’t use to belong to grandma (God rest her soul)
Diet and Supplements
I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’m going to anyway: no caffeine for at least four hours before bed.
Well, then, I’m glad I said something. Our daily diet plays a significant role in managing energy levels and hormone cycles.
- Stay hydrated throughout the day – Dehydration stresses our organs and is a barrier to sleep
- Eat light at night – Big meals close to bedtime, especially if they’re filled with dairy and wheat, can cause heartburn, congestion, upset stomach, or gas.
- Avoid alcohol –
- Avoid excessive alcohol – Alcohol may make us sleepy, but the quality of our sleep will be lousy.
- Melatonin – Our body naturally produces this “sleep hormone” to make us drowsy, but melatonin supplements are also available.
- Magnesium – A critical mineral for many bodily functions, it helps relax muscles and regulate the nervous system.
- Lavender Oil – A few drops of lavender oil on the pillow or in a diffuser, and we’ll be drifting off in no time.
- Valerian Root – This herb has been used for centuries to improve sleep quality.
- Chamomile Tea – Calming properties of chamomile make it a trusted natural sleep aid.
A diet high in refined carbohydrates can interfere with sleep quality and even trigger insomnia.
Regular exercise can help us sleep better and have morning energy throughout the day.
It’s really as simple as that. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime. The pump may make it hard to wind down.
While chiropractic care is not specifically designed to treat sleep problems, any of my patients report getting to sleep faster and staying asleep longer due to their chiropractic adjustments. They’ve even started telling me about their dreams.
I know, but I like to be polite. Chiropractic care’s natural and non-invasive approach:
- Pain relief – chiropractic adjustments aim to reduce pain naturally, like low back pain, neck pain, or even fibromyalgia, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- Reduces stress – spinal adjustments reduce tension in the body and trigger the release of relaxation hormones like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin.
- Improves nervous system function – our nervous system plays a crucial role in regulating sleep-wake cycles and other bodily functions important for sleep.
- Addresses sleep-related conditions – chiropractors can also help address conditions related to sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia, by targeting underlying musculoskeletal and nervous system issues that may be contributing to these conditions.
Stop wasting time tossing and turning or popping pill after pill, trying to get a few moments of rest. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. We don’t have to be held hostage to our exhaustion any longer. There are natural ways to fall asleep and wake up refreshed, ready to face whatever the day throws at us. Sweet dreams!