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I'm Struggling to Get Good Sleep - What do I do?

If only we could all sleep as peacefully as the child in this photo! If only sleeping was as easy as crawling into bed, closing our eyes, falling asleep, waking up 8 hours later, and feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

There can be a lot of factors at play when it comes to our quality and quantity of sleep. I talk about it often with my clients. Probably any of them will tell you that some point during a visit I ask about their sleep and then I usually follow it up with a question about difficulty falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Why do I care about sleep so much, if I'm a chiropractor?

Sleeping is when your body rests and recovers. If we aren't getting adequate quality of sleep, our health is going to be affected by it. Your body's ability to fall asleep and stay asleep can also be an indicator of how well your nervous system is moving between its two modes of fight/flight/freeze and rest/digest. Ideally your system would move into rest/digest towards evening time, being indicated by the waning light of the day and your circadian rhythm. However, artificial lighting in our homes, lights from our phones, and the stressors on our plates can all impact how well your body can relax and sleep.

Here are a few tips to help improve your sleep:

  1. If it is difficulty falling asleep, consider what you are spending your time doing 1-2 hours before bed. Spending time on your phone or other devices? Now before you come after me because relaxing scrolling on your phone before bed is the way you wind down, I'm not going to stop you! I do it quite a bit too, to be honest. You can change your phone's display settings from daytime to nighttime, or from more blue tone to more orange tone. This will help your circadian rhythm do it's job.

  2. Are you giving yourself time to relax? It's okay if the to-do list isn't perfectly done before bed. Let yourself unwind. Do light stretching. Read a book. Take a warm shower or bath. Drink an un-caffeinated warm drink.

  3. If it's trouble staying asleep, try eating a snack before bed, preferably one with protein. If you are waking frequently in the night, it might not always be because you need to use the bathroom. Instead it could be a dip in your blood sugar that is signaling your body to wake up and eat something.

  4. If it is interruptions in sleep due to kids, I am with you there in solidarity. One thing I have done is added in a magnesium supplement at night. From what I understand, this helps the amount of sleep I get be of better quality. If we can't improve quantity, we can at least improve quality!

  5. Last but certainly not least, get adjusted. If you find that you are reaching for sleep aids like melatonin, for you or your kids, more and more frequently, consider chiropractic care. The purpose of the chiropractic adjustment is to remove interference and tension from your brain-body communication. If your body is more at ease (and not to mention can handle stress more easily), falling asleep and staying asleep will not be a chore.

There are also numerous herbs that can be used to help calm your mind and body. I recommend working with an herbalist or someone knowledgeable in herbs to get you the right blend.

Any other sleep tips that have helped you improve your sleep? Let me know!

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