Why sleep is the most important part of your day!
As we are approaching the depths of winter, you are probably finding yourself wanting to sleep more, staying home and relaxing by the warmth of the heater rather than going out and facing the elements. Our bodies remember the days when the weather dictated our behaviour as hunters and gatherers and typically winter would mean increased time resting by a fire and more sleep overall.
Even though our busy lifestyles mean we often behave as if seasonal changes are irrelevant, our bodies require cycles of activity and rest, daily and annually. In winter, we produce hormones that make us sleepy and encourage us to take time to restore body, mind and soul.
Sleep just makes everything right again! We need sleep to survive just like we need food and water. Good quality sleep allows cells to repair and increase in their turnover which is how your body regenerates, so it’s no wonder sleep is a vital building block of optimal health.
Chiropractors are concerned with sleep because our nervous system needs rest to function optimally. While you are sleeping the sympathetic nervous system calms and your body moves from ‘fight or flight’ into ‘rest & digest'. Nerve cells communicate and reorganize during sleep, which supports healthy brain function. Studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can alter or even halt the formation of different pathways in the brain that help us retain, process and even learn new information. With consistently good sleep you are more likely to have the physical, mental and emotional resilience to deal with the daily stress of modern life.
Other benefits of getting enough good quality sleep include hormone balance, blood glucose regulation and increased likelihood of overcoming many diseases. A strong immune system depends on sleep as that is when your body makes cytokines (the proteins that fight infection and inflammation), certain antibodies and immune cells.
So what does enough good quality sleep look like? Basically it means getting at least 7 hours sleep per night, falling asleep in 30 minutes or less, waking up no more than once per night, being awake for less than 20 minutes after initially falling asleep and breathing well while you are asleep. If this is not how your sleep looks or feels, if you wake up not feeling refreshed or wake up with a headache, neck, back or joint pain you may need some assistance to get the most out of your sleep.
There are a number of ways regular adjustments can assist with sleep. Each adjustment shifts your body from ‘fight or flight’ into ‘rest & digest’ and helps create new neurological pathways for sustained ease in your nervous system. Your adjustment can also help to improve posture, rib and respiratory muscle function, jaw alignment and sinus congestion, all of which can lead to poor breathing habits and affected sleep when not working at their best.
If you are experiencing sleep issues including difficulty falling or staying asleep, still feeling tired upon waking or difficulty getting comfortable during sleep please get in touch!