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Approximately 10 Million people in the United States use prescription sleep aids.
  • The Institute of Medicine estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually on medical costs that are directly related to sleep disorders.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that 100,000 vehicle accidents occur annually drowsy driving. An estimated 1,500 die each year in these collisions.

  • Employers spend approximately $3,200 more in health care costs on employees with sleep problems than for those who sleep well.

  • According to the US Surgeon General, insomnia costs the U.S. Government more than $15 billion per year in health care costs.

  • Statistics also show that US industry loses about $150 billion each year because of sleep deprived workers. This takes into account absenteeism and lost productivity.

Ah, sleep. It’s that thing you are supposed to be doing when you are lying in bed at night. Sleep deprivation is so common today that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention now considers it to be a public health epidemic. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society have concluded that adults should be sleeping a minimum of seven hours per night to stay healthy. If you are getting less than those magical seven hours, you could be at risk. When we do not get enough sleep we feel mental effects immediately. Those effects often include: having a harder time concentrating and making decisions, headaches, memory impairments and slowed reaction times. Longer term effects of sleep deprivation can affect: your moods, the heart, blood sugar levels, the immune system, metabolism, physical appearance, and your relationships.

Sleep challenges include:

  • Insomnia- difficult falling asleep; difficulty maintaining sleep

  • Deregulated sleep patterns/cycles (circadian rhythms)

  • Difficulty waking from sleep

  • Difficulty getting to bed

  • Not feeling rested after sleep

  • Sleeping too long

  • Physically restless sleep

  • Nightmares

  • Bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis)

  • Sleepwalking

  • Restless leg syndrome- leg discomfort or sleep causing movement and arousal

  • Bruxism- teeth grinding during sleep

  • Sleep terrors- abrupt arousal with intense fear, difficulty to awaken, no dream recall or memory of event

  • Narcolepsy- loss of the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles

Complications of insomnia may include:

  • Lower performance on the job or at school

  • Slowed reaction time while driving and a higher risk of accidents

  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, an anxiety disorder or substance abuse

  • Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease

Lifestyle & Work-Up Recommendations:

• Participate in a balanced exercise program that includes wearing a pedometer to ensure adequate movement and collection of steps. High intensity short bursts (20-60 seconds) of activity during the day is recommended to enhance growth hormone release. Also engage in resistance training that works all major muscle groups (work each group at least 2 times a week). Avoid exercise late in the day. • Avoid extra stress and obligations. • Rule out hormone imbalance/deficiencies, hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, and weak adrenal function. • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. • Avoid caffeine-containing products, stimulant-containing herbs, and hypoglycemic conditions. • Check prescription drugs for side effects. Note that many medications contain caffeine. • Avoid watching TV and using laptops and electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime. Consider using red lighting at night. • Consider a warm Epsom salt bath at night. • Develop a nightly sleep routine that is soothing, such as gentle stretching or yoga 20 minutes before bed. • Practice stress relieving activities throughout the day, such as deep breathing and taking breaks. • Consider writing down all worries/concerns and list of “to-dos” before bed to clear the mind.

Dietary Tips and Caveats:

• Consume turkey, a tablespoon of organic nut butter, or warm organic milk before bed, as they contain tryptophan. Calcium and magnesium at bedtime also have a relaxing effect on the body and can aid sleep. • Whey protein or other quality protein is essential at every meal to stabilize blood sugar levels. • Avoid sugar and sweetened products. Replace with stevia • Avoid taking stimulating nutrients late in the day such as carnitine and B vitamins, as well as pharmaceuticals that stimulate the nervous system.

Neurofeedback and Insomnia

Neurofeedback often helps these problems because it improves brain regulation. Research in neuroscience has shown us that individuals with sleep difficulties and disorders often have a dysregulation of important brainwaves. Brain Mapping can be utilized to help assess brain function that is contributing to sleep difficulties. Once this pattern is identified, neurofeedback can be utilized to retrain the brain to increase and decrease brainwave patterns. Retraining the brain often leads to the normalization of sleep for many individuals.

Chiropractic Care and Insomnia

Chiropractors look for other health problems occurring alongside insomnia and contributing to it, such as thyroid problems and mental health concerns. Patients should be asked about sleeping habits, diet, stress levels and daily schedule. Not following the body’s natural circadian rhythm by consistently going to bed and awaking at the same time each day may also have a negative impact on insomnia sufferers. Successfully treating patients with insomnia may require adjustments to correct the subluxation and interfere with chronic insomnia. Alongside adjustments, other treatments and lifestyle interventions may promote healthy sleep and help your patients heal.

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