Categories Sleep Problems

Insomnia treatments

Did you know that 60 million Americans suffer from sleep problems or insomnia?! Hi, my name is Dr. Zach Shaw with the Upper Cervical Spine Center, and many of our patients come to us for a variety of different reasons, but almost always have sleeping issues as well. Sleeping problems are usually labeled under “ insomnia.” Insomnia causes a person to lay in bed and he or she cannot fall asleep, or they wake up multiple times throughout the night, or they wake up and they just can’t fall back asleep.

This becomes a problem because when we see people not get enough sleep, not only do they not function properly like they should, but they do not heal either. When you are in a deep sleep for a long period of time, your brain goes through certain wavelengths that allow your body to heal. When you do not sleep, the body cannot fully heal from whatever injury you may have or stress you are dealing with. Whatever it may be, if the body cannot heal or function as it should, not only do you not feel good, but you set yourself up for chronic problems in the future.

It is imperative that you get enough sleep. An awesome way to do that is to make sure you have a clear nervous system. How does an upper cervical doctor, like me, help patients get better sleep? It all has to do with the brainstem. The brainstem is surrounded by the top two bones in the neck, and that is why when we adjust one of those bones, taking pressure off the brainstem, we see people sleep better.

The brainstem houses something called the “reticular formation.” It is in the heart of the brainstem and helps us regulate sleep. A study done in 1949, showed that when the reticular formation in cats was destroyed, the cats would fall into a deep coma and never come out of it. This is because the reticular formation was not there to control the cats waking up. The reticular formation was then coined the “wakefulness center.” It allows us to be alert, but it also allows us to sleep.

Part of the study also stimulated animals’ reticular formation in their brainstem. What they found was when an animal was asleep, they immediately became alert when they stimulated their reticular formations. This proves that the brainstem, particularly the reticular formation, is the key to sleep. Therefore, when we remove pressure on the brainstem with a nice, simple adjustment, we allow the reticular formation to fire up and start working more efficiently. This allows our patients to sleep better, go to sleep easier, and not wake up as often throughout the night; all due to pressure being off the brainstem.

Categories Sleep Problems

Upper Cervical Care for Sleep Problems

I’ve noticed that most of my patients that come in, although they come in for a wide range of conditions, I always ask them about how they sleep. I would say at least 50% of my patients admit that they do not sleep well. They don’t wake up rested in the mornings, and that’s a serious problem. I mean, that’s and epidemic.

    I decided to do a little research, so I went and Googled it, and Google results show 27% of people in the United States do not sleep well at all every night. 68% say they struggle with sleep at least once a week, meaning they don’t sleep well at least one night a week. That can be a serious problem because you recover from the previous day when you sleep, right? We’re constantly fighting gravity. We’re using muscles, we’re walking, standing, sitting, and our body heals when we get into stage four deep sleep. 

    If your body’s not getting into deep sleep, then you’re never fully recovering, you’re never fully healing, and that’s going to lessen your immune system. It’s going to definitely interfere with your mental function when you’re at work and when you’re with your family. Your concentration, obviously, is just how you function through the day.

    One of the incredible side effects that we found from even people that come into our office that say they sleep well, is that they usually sleep better. The reason is because the area that we focus all of our attention on, as upper cervical chiropractors, is the very top of the neck, and that’s the brainstem area.

    Well, it just so happens the sleep center, the area that controls your sleep, sits right in the heart of the brainstem. If there’s even a slight misalignment here, just a little bit, it can actually interfere with how your brain shuts down. It shuts down from front to back through the four stages of sleep. If there’s a bone out of alignment, just even slightly, it can actually interfere with that process.

    Now, what does that mean? Well, it could keep you from sleeping at all. I’ve had people that have gone days, weeks, with zero sleep, or it can actually just maybe not allow you to get into stage four deep sleep. Maybe you have a real active mind, and you dream a lot. You’re asleep but you still wake up and you’re not recovered. You’re still tired when the alarm goes off.

    The way your body’s designed, with seven to eight hours of sleep, you should actually wake up refreshed feeling 100%. Before even your alarm goes off, you should be waking up, and you should be energized and ready to go. If you’re not feeling that way, then believe it or not, there could be just one little misalignment at the very top of your neck that could be interfering with your whole sleeping process.

    Now, you’re probably thinking, “Well, I don’t have any neck pain. I don’t have any headaches. How could I have something out of alignment in my neck?” Well, the brainstem itself actually doesn’t have any pain perception. You could have a bone putting severe pressure on the brainstem, and it could be affecting the nerves that go to your stomach or your colon or your heart. It could cause blood pressure, poor immune function, it can affect your energy, and it can affect even how your brain works without you ever having any neck pain or headaches.

    If you’re not sleeping as well as you think you should, your energy is not as good as you think it should, or your immune system is poor, and maybe you’re getting frequent colds or getting sick a lot, then there’s very likely the possibility that a misalignment at the neck, that maybe came from some trauma years ago, a slip, a fall, an accident, a sports injury, could be affecting your overall health because of that one little bone at the top of your neck. 

    If you’re having problems sleeping, like I just said, or your energy or your immune system is poor, or you’re just not feeling as well as you think you should, you owe it to yourself just to get it checked out.