Dr. James C. Spaulding

Chiropractor - Edinboro, Pa.

Instrument Adjusting Certified
106 Waterford Street • Edinboro Pa 16412 • Send E-Mail
Phone: (814) 734-3422
Mr. Sandman...Bring Me Some Sleep!

“Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function in the body.
We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behavior.”
-Eve Van Cauter of the University of Chicago

"These woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Robert Frost

Do you ever feel that you have to travel “miles and miles” before you can get to sleep?

Changes in sleep are natural as we age. Studies have shown that as we get older deep sleep decreases, and more fragmented sleep patterns take over (we awaken more often.) We generally want to head to bed earlier, and also wake up earlier. This is definitely what has happened to me. It’s getting to sleep that often seems to be thwarted.

Things that might inhibit sleep (or getting to sleep) include:

  • Pain (arthritic and otherwise)
  • Medications (a side effect of many drugs is insomnia)
  • Medical conditions, such as Restless Leg Syndrome, asthma, and diabetes (causing increased frequency of urination)
  • Stress
  • Lack of exercise

Because adults need 6-8 hours of restful sleep a night to be properly rested, getting consistently less will lead to symptoms of sleep deprivation.

Common effects of sleep deprivation are:

  • Decreased energy; increased fatigue
  • Increased tendency toward systemic inflammation
  • Decreased immunity
  • Irritability
  • Memory difficulties
  • Increased stress
  • Increased tendency toward depression and anxiety

Adequate sleep time fortifies the immune system. We naturally tend to sleep more when we are sick, so listen to your body and give into this desire.

Things to do to counter sleep difficulties:

  • Reduce the amount of light in the bedroom (including nightlights, clock-radios, and the television)
  • Decrease your intake of caffeine, especially later in the day (at least 10-12 before bedtime.) Drink an herbal (no caffeine) tea, like Chamomile, before bedtime
  • Have a sleep “ritual” (go to bed at the same time every night; try not to dwell on the negatives of the day; do breathing exercises)
  • Replace your mattress if needed (I did this recently. I did realize how poorly my old mattress was affecting me)
  • If you have a tough time getting to sleep, get up and do something constructive, then…go back to bed
  • Count sheep (doesn’t have to be sheep, I’ve found that counting and remembering the names and ages of my 12 grandchildren works for me)
  • Listen to soothing music
  • Medication could be a possible source of sleep difficulty. Check with your primary care physician to find out if medication could be keeping you from sleeping well
  • Alcohol is another possible culprit. A drink may be soothing to you, but even this can translate into trouble sleeping (a recent Japanese clinical trial has found.) These negatives effects on sleep can become more intense with increasing amounts of alcohol.
  • Avoid eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime, especially spicy foods.

Exercise, however, may be the best sleep aide because of its stress-relieving qualities. Both interval aerobic training and resistance strength training are going to be helpful here.

Vigorous exercise, however, within three hours of bedtime is generally not conducive to getting to sleep, but exercise in the late afternoon or early evening appears beneficial.

Dr. Jim Spaulding is a full-time practicing chiropractor of 37 years. He has written numerous articles on the subject of diet and exercise.

© 2013 Dr James C. Spaulding. All Rights Reserved.