Chiropractic care to keep you fit, active and healthy


Are you good in bed? Our Guide to Sleep

| By Dr. Debbie Tan (Chiropractor)

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Sleep is a fundamental necessity for our health. As we sleep, we go into an anabolic state which helps restore and repair our immune system and musculoskeletal and nervous system.1,2 Therefore, it is essential to know what is required and how you can obtain the best quality sleep.

The amount and quality of sleep obtained everyday affects a person’s risk of developing neurogenerative disorders as well as metabolic or immune system disorders.3

A lack of sleep can also cause problems with memory loss, attention lapses and depressed mood, as well as decreased cognitive function and immunity. It can also cause sleepiness, fatigue, and decrease in alertness which may lead to motor-vehicle accidents. In addition, a short-term reduction in sleep can result in altered physiologic changes such as a decrease in glucose tolerance and increased blood pressure.2 A sleep-deprived person also works harder to accomplish work (over someone that has had normal sleep) and memory performance is less efficient.

Sleep deprivation also is linked to serious diseases, such as heart disease and mental illness. A reduced amount of sleep can alter the effect of hormones that regulate appetite, which can lead to weight gain and obesity and subsequently, heart disease.2

In some studies, it was also found that sleep deprivation increases stress hormones in the body. This reduces new cell production and keep bodies in a ‘fight or flight’ response.4 It also can increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes due to glucose being processed more slowly, however research in this is still limited.5

So, what is normal?

For a newborn, total sleep duration can be 14-16 hours a day. For an adult, normal sleep pattern is a duration of 8 hours.6,7 Some claim that 3-5 hours of sleep a night is enough for function. However, a majority of the population admit needing at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to perform effectively.2

What are some ways to help you sleep better?

Many try to sleep for 8 hours, however are restless and only have small periods of solid sleep. Here are some tips and advice in regards to making your next sleep, the best one yet!

  • Turn off electrical appliances, tablets, mobile phones, laptops just before you sleep. There has been limited research on radio frequencies that electrical devices emit that may interfere with our brain wave patterns.8 If you use your mobile phone as an alarm clock, most devices will still ring an alarm even if it’s switched off.
  • Turn off wifi an hour before bed. In conjunction with the tip above, wifi networks may interfere with our sleep patterns. Simply switch off wifi on your phone and tablets before turning them off or place them on ‘flight mode.’ Also, switching your modem off at the outlet is encouraged. Side note: Modems should be located the furthest away from the bedroom.
  • Get some sunshine. As our bodies are regulated by melatonin, we need to be exposed to sunlight for our bodies to acknowledge the circadian rhythm.9 A short 5 – 10 minute walk, without sunglasses on may be suffice. Looking at sunlight reflected off nature, such as plants and trees, also helps with this.
  • Get moving around. By moving around and exercising the body, we naturally are able to fall asleep better. Research has shown that by exercising, people would sleep longer and woke up less often than those that remain inactive (sedentary).10
  • Set a routine. Have a regular bedtime and wake up time. This may take time to see the benefits, however routine allows your body to set up it’s own rhythm and allows more efficient sleep.11 Also keep the noise down in your bedroom, keep the room cool and make sure the bed is comfortable.
  • Have a bath before bed. Having a bath with epsom salts, which contain magnesium, can help the muscle relax and detoxify the body. Also, adding a few drops of quality lavender oil may help.
  • Seek professional help. Whether it’s your general practitioner or allied health professional (such as your local chiropractor), they can guide you to ways of managing your sleep issues and advice on what works for you best. Commonly, in our practice, receiving an adjustment, a new pillow and sleep advice is a great combination.
  • Meditation can help wind down the mind. Simply sitting comfortably and meditating for 10-15mins may be just enough to gather your thoughts. Deep breathing and visualisation of peace are ways many people use to help gain better sleep.12
  • Avoid caffeine and drinking large amounts close to bed time. This will encourage your body to get up and go to the loo when you’re in bed. Also caffeine is a stimulate that will encourage your body to remain awake and alert, and has been found to associate with disrupted sleep and daytime sleepiness.13

For more information on your sleep, please see our references below or seek a professional in regards to your health and wellness.

  1. Obal F, Krueger JM. GHRH and sleep. Sleep Med Rev [serial online]. 2004 [cited 2016 Sep 24];8(5):367-77. Available from: Science Direct.
  2. Banks S, Dinges DF. Behavioral and physiological consequences of sleep restriction. J Clin Sleep Med [serial on the Internet]. 2007 [cited 2016 Sep 24];3(5):519-28. Available from:
  3. Bondke Persson A, Persson PB. Sleep. Acta Physiol. 2014;210(2):229. doi: 10.1111/apha.12216
  4. Sun X, Song H, Yang T, Zhang L, Zhao L, Yang J, et al. Effects of sleep deprivation on neuroendocrine hormones in servicemen. SleepBiol Rhythms. 2013;11(4):274-7. doi: 10.1111/sbr.12027
  5. Spiegel K, Knutson K, Leproult R, Tasali E, Cauter EV. Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. J Appl Physiol. 2005;99(5):2008-19. doi: 1152/japplphysiol.00660.2005
  6. Galland BC, Taylor BJ, Elder DE, Herbison P. Normal sleep patterns in infants and children: a systematic review of observational studies. Sleep Med Rev. 2012;16(3):213-22. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.06.001
  7. Kroemer, K. H. E., 1933, Kroemer HJ, Kroemer-Elbert KE. Engineering physiology: physiologic bases of human factors/ergonomics. Amsterdam, Neth: Elsevier; 1986.
  8. Huber R, Treyer V, Borbély AA, Schuderer J, Gottselig JM, Landolt H‐, et al. Electromagnetic fields, such as those from mobile phones, alter regional cerebral blood flow and sleep and waking EEG. J Sleep Res. 2002;11(4):289-95. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2869.2002.00314.x
  9. Emens JS, Burgess HJ. Effect of Light and Melatonin and Other Melatonin Receptor Agonists on Human Circadian Physiology. Sleep Med Clin. 2015;10(4):435. doi:  1016/j.jsmc.2009.01.004
  10. Kline CE, Irish LA, Krafty RT, Sternfeld B, Kravitz HM, Buysse DJ, et al. Consistently high sports/exercise activity is associated with better sleep quality, continuity and depth in midlife women: the SWAN sleep study. Sleep. 2013;36(9):1279. doi: 5665/sleep.2946
  11. Thompson J. Sleep routines are better than drugs, say researchers. Community Pract [serial online]. 2000 [2016 Sep 4];73(3):528. Available from: ProQuest.
  12. Slomski A. Meditation Promotes Better Sleep in Older Adults. JAMA. 2015;313(16):1609. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.2943
  13. Roehrs T, Roth T. Caffeine: Sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep Med Rev [serial online]. 2008 [2016 Sep 24];12(2):153-62. Available from: Science Direct.
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