Is it nap time yet?
Isn’t it funny how kids hate nap time and will do anything to get out of taking a nap, and then as adults you would love to have time in your day to have a scheduled nap? But why is that? Why do adults feel less energized and feel the need for naps throughout the day when actually adults require less sleep than children do?
Breaking Down the Sleep Stages You Need to Know About
Research has shown that 7-9 hours of sleep is optimal for adults. And many of you may be thinking-“I get 8 hours of sleep every night but I’m still tired the next day”. That may be true, but the quality of sleep is what’s important here.
There are 4 stages to our sleep cycle:
Stage 1 is when you first fall asleep, this stage lasts only a few minutes but brain activities start to slow down.
Stage 2 of your sleep cycle is when your heart rate and breathing slow down and your body temperature decreases.
Stage 3 is considered your deep sleep stage. Your muscle tone, breathing, and heart rate are decreasing even more. This is the stage that sleep experts believe is critical to restorative sleep allowing your body to recover and grow. This stage also helps to improve your immune system and regulate your metabolism. There is evidence that in this stage even though brain activity is reduced, deep sleep actually contributes to memory, creativity, and clear thinking.
Stage 4 AKA REM sleep. In this stage your muscles have undergone a temporary paralysis except for your breathing muscles and your eye muscles. REM sleep is essential for brain functions like memory, creativity, and learning. REM sleep makes up about 1/4 of our sleep.
Sleep and Your Hormones
Sleep also plays a crucial role in hormone production and regulation. Not getting quality sleep can affects these different hormones:
Melatonin- helps you fall asleep
Growth hormone- helps metabolism, bone and muscle development
Cortisol- part of the body’s stress response that slowly ramps up over the course of the night
Leptin & Ghrelin- control apetite
Reasons why you aren’t sleeping well:
High stress levels
Too much caffeine late in the afternoon.
Drinking alcohol before bed. Research has shown us that moderate drinking (1-2 drinks) can reduce the quality of your sleep up to 25%.
TV and cell phone usage prior to bedtime and while in bed. Research has also shown that the bright lights (aka blue light) from TV’s and cell phones reduce the amount of melatonin your body releases at night time and stimulates you to stay awake longer.
Ways to optimize your sleep
View sunlight within the first hour of waking up in the morning. This will start your circadian rhythm aka your body’s internal clock for the day.
Wake up at the same time each day and go to sleep when you first start feeling sleepy at night. Pushing through this sleepy feeling is one reason people will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall back asleep.
No caffeine within 6-8 hours of bedtime. Even if you don’t feel the effects of caffeine at night your nervous system still is influenced by it and can affect your quality of sleep. Remember, so much of what happens to your body at night is regulated by your unconscious nervous system.
Avoid bright lights 1 hour prior to bedtime. Yes this includes TV and cell phones. Blue light blockers are an alternative if you have to be around bright lights prior to sleeping.
Chiropractic Adjustments. People who regularly get their nervous system adjusted and stay interference free sleep better. Another way to think about it; if your body cannot get a signal to your brain, your brain will never know if it can wind down that system for sleep or not.
If you have trouble falling asleep at night maybe consider trying Magnesium Threonate, Zinc, or Threonine. These supplements can help your body get into a calm resting state.
Chiropractic and sleep
Better sleep is what most of our patients say has improved since they started getting adjusted regularly. There are many reasons why that is. When your neck is misaligned it tightens the muscles of your jaw and face, causing poor breathing, which can lead to snoring, which then can lead to your body never getting into REM sleep. It has even lead to diagnoses of sleep apnea! The other big reason that you will get better sleep after chiropractic care is because chiropractic adjustments help your body to regulate cortisol. You should go to sleep with low levels of cortisol and wake up with relatively high levels of cortisol; are you?
Take this information and apply it to your own life and really start improving your sleep. You will be shocked how much better your body functions once your sleep is in check!