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.