Do you wake up feeling groggy in the morning? Perhaps you have trouble getting to sleep at all—lying awake, watching the hours grow later and later while you struggle to get some shuteye? Or maybe it’s pain that’s keeping you up.
Whatever the reason, you’re not alone. Chronic sleep problems impact 10 to 18 percent of adults in the United States.
Whether you’re dealing with bouts of insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, or ongoing sleep apnea, it can be frustrating to toss and turn night after night or wake up without feeling like you’ve had a restful night of sleep.
Here’s what you need to know about sleep’s role in our wellbeing and the steps you can take to sleep better at night.
Sleep’s Role in Your Physical Health
Sleep plays an important part in restoring your body and helping you heal day in and day out. It’s imperative to our physical health. Your body relies on sleep to help heal and repair itself. Sleep also aids in your heart health, healing your heart and blood vessels, and impacts how your body responds to insulin and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. What can happen if you don’t get enough sleep?
- Ongoing sleep issues are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
- Sleep deficiencies can also increase the risk of obesity.
Sleep is essential for healthy growth and development. When our body enters a state of deep sleep, it triggers the body to create and release the hormones that support normal growth in kids and adolescents. This same hormone also improves muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in people of all ages. For teens and young adults, sleep is an important factor in puberty and fertility.
Our immune systems need sleep to stay healthy. Ongoing sleep deprivation or other sleep issues can impact the way our immune systems respond, making it harder to fight off common infections.
Sleep and Your Mental Wellbeing
Sleep is just as vital to your mental health as well. Each night when you sleep, your brain is restoring and preparing for the next day, forging new pathways to help you learn and remember information.
But sleep does more than just help our brains reset each night—it can even help keep you mentally healthy. Harvard Health Publishing reports that sleep problems may even increase your risk for developing certain mental illnesses and that in some cases, treating sleep disorders can actually help alleviate the symptoms of some mental health problems.
Sleep is an integral part of our mental wellbeing. Just think how much more stressed or challenged we feel after one poor night’s sleep.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
If you’re tossing and turning and wondering how to get a good night’s sleep, you’re not alone. And stressing about not getting enough sleep can just make things worse! What can you do to ensure you’re getting quality sleep—and enough of it? Here are a few evidence-based ways to promote good sleep hygiene:
- Exercise regularly to reduce symptoms of insomnia, but not right before bed, as it can increase feelings of alertness, and boost levels of adrenaline and epinephrine in the body.
- Increase bright light exposure during the day, then limit your exposure to blue light from computer screens and other devices at night.
- Avoid any caffeine in the evenings. Drinking caffeine any time after 3 or 4 pm is not recommended.
- Reduce or eliminate long daytime naps, limiting nap times to 30 minutes or less.
- Do your best to go to bed and wake up at consistent times—even on the weekends!
- Avoid alcohol, which can increase the symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring, and disrupted sleep patterns.
- Optimize your bedroom environment with a quiet, relaxing, clean atmosphere and a comfortable sleeping temperature of around 70° Fahrenheit (or something close that is comfortable to you).
- Find ways to relax and clear your mind in the evenings. You might try a hot bath or shower, or reading, meditating, deep breathing, visualization techniques, or other relaxation methods.
Some also find that natural supplements like melatonin, ginkgo Biloba, glycine, valerian root, magnesium, L-theanine, or lavender can help them fall asleep without the use of harmful sleeping pills—but these supplements should only be taken under the advice of a medical professional.
How a Chiropractor Can Help
Not only can a chiropractor help with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental and emotional causes of sleep woes, but those that deal with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) may find that better alignment of their cervical spine can help with symptoms.
If it’s pain that’s keeping you awake at night, your chiropractor can work with you to alleviate this as well.
You shouldn’t have to wake up bleary-eyed and exhausted day after day. Connect with our chiropractic team to find a plan to help you sleep peacefully and effortlessly.