Insomnia or Sleeplessness
An old Chinese proverb states, “Only when one cannot sleep does one know how long the night is.” Anyone who's ever experienced an occasional bout with insomnia—and that's most of us—can relate to this all too well.
In fact, surveys have shown that between 40 and 60 percent of the general population has trouble sleeping. Daily stress and worries, pressures from job and family, body aches and pains caused by uncomfortable beds or pillows, and a host of other issues can keep a person from getting enough quality sleep.
Sleep is critical to good health and functioning, so lack of it is a serious matter. “Sleep is one of the most important functions of the brain,” says Frederick R. Carrick, DC, PhD, president of the American Chiropractic Association's Council on Neurology. Through it, our bodies recharge and renew for the next day's challenges.
As wellness experts, doctors of chiropractic can provide patients with a different approach to their sleeping problems— without the use of sleeping pills, which leave many people in a mental haze the next morning.
What causes Insomnia?
In order to understand why you can't sleep, you need to understand that sleep is the outcome of an interaction between two classes of variables: sleepiness and “noise.
- Sleepiness – Under normal conditions, your sleepiness should gradually increase throughout the day, peaking just before you go to bed at night. This is ideal, as you want your sleepiness to be high at the beginning of the night.
- “Noise” – refers to any kind of stimulation that inhibits or disrupts sleep. If noise is conceptually greater than your level of sleepiness, you will not fall asleep. “Noise” occurs in three zones: the mind level, body level, and the environmental level.
The most common type of mind noise, however, is the “cognitive popcorn;” unstoppable thoughts running through your mind at night.
Examples of body noise include pain, discomfort, indigestion, side effects from prescription drugs, or residual caffeine from drinking coffee too late in the day.
Environmental noise is usually obvious, such as noises in your room or house, a snoring partner, music, lights, or a bedroom that's too warm.
In order to get a good night's sleep, you want your sleepiness level to be high, and the noise level to be low.