Written by Dr. Matthew Alvord DC, DPhCS
Sleep counts. Studies show even those who say they don’t need it…still need it. And it’s not just about the amount of sleep; it’s the quality of recuperative rest we get that really counts. It’s more than feeling refreshed; it’s about healing up from all the demands when we are awake. And although many are aware of various factors that affect sleep in one way or another, did you know that your spine affects your sleep too?
Whether you have back pain or not, most of the feedback to your brain is coming from spinal nerves. It’s just how we are all made. These connections affect the entire brain but it specifically affects your awake and rest cycles, determining how good you actually sleep. The spine is so important, that you can’t get a good night sleep without it.
Interference to spinal pathways to the brain can cause interruption of normal processing that is a prerequisite for normal sleep patterns, no matter how long you lay in bed. Subluxations, spinal bones that misalign and interfere with nerve function, are a common cause of abnormal brain function that is critical to sleeping.
There are basic levels of sleep that everyone visits no matter how well they are able to sleep. We slip in and out of them at different times during the night, but a key difference is the amount of time we spend at each level. Children, for example, sleep deeper than adults in general but a good night sleep requires uninterrupted time in the deeper levels.
In the beginning of the night, it is easy to wake up during this lighter level. While we may be technically asleep, if we don’t progress to the next deeper levels we won’t have the restful sleep required for the day ahead. There is normally increased involuntary muscle contraction during this time and is an essential way for the body to make any muscle tone corrections it couldn’t do when you were awake. However, interference to this first phase of sleep can cause muscle symptoms, such as charlie horses and growing pains.
The deeper phases are associated with a more restful sleep, including deep muscle relaxation. If there is interference to this crucial part of sleep, there can be a loss of normal muscle control, resulting in conditions such as bedwetting. This is a coveted level of sleep that is easily lost if the body is prevented from going there. It is a main reason why we can be asleep for 8-10 hours but still be exhausted in the morning.
REM is another important deep level associated with active mind processing and dreaming. This is a time when the brain works out much of the mental stress from the day. If there is interference here, issues like night terrors and sleepwalking can result. Spinal interference will affect your state of mind, even when you are unconscious.
No matter how our brains need to prepare for sleep, there is no aspect that isn’t negatively affected by spinal interference. When any of the bones of the spine misalign they can interfere with how the brain works and sleep. Many times the problem can look like the bladder or a scary movie or exercise, when actually it is the body’s ability to communicate with itself through the spine and nervous system.
Stop counting sheep and start counting on a good night sleep. Get your spine checked today to make your night right.