The average adult requires 7 or more hours sleep per night. Most, if not all of us go to bed every single night. Some may vary due to working overtime, working night shifts etc. However in general we require sleep every night in order for proper brain function.
Although sleep is a very normal part of daily life, do you know what actually happens during sleep? What if we skip sleep? What happens if we constantly wake up during sleep? How can we fix that? How can we get better sleep?
Just like food and water, sleep is an essential requirement for us to live. What actually happens during sleep? For the most of us, it's very easy to fall asleep. After a long day at work or out with family, we lay down on our comfortable bed and go straight to sleep; no thinking, no planing and no energy needed right?
Although sleep does not require any cognitive thinking, many processes occur during sleep:
The brain stores new information and detoxifies toxins
Nerve cells communicate, grows and recognises each other, which helps with brain functions
most importantly, bodily repairs, energy restoration and hormones get released!
Stages of sleep
REM sleep also known as rapid eye movement sleep. Have you heard of it? Although we don't think about it, our sleep can be broken into cycles which repeat 4 or more times during a 7-9 hour sleep period. 3 of these stages are non-REM sleep.
Brain waves, heart rate and eye movement slow down; this stage is roughly 7 minutes in duration.
Body temperature decreases, eye movements cease heart rate and muscles continue to slow down.
Deep sleep begins. Eyes and muscles don't move and brain waves slow down further. This is where the body restoration period begins.
The 4th stage is REM sleep, where your heart rate, breathing, brain waves and eye movements all increase. REM sleep occurs roughly 90 minutes after you fall asleep and is also when dreaming occurs. This stage is also important for learning as you brain starts to store new information.
What happens when you don't get enough sleep?
So what happens if we are sleep deprived? many studies show that sleep deprivation are linked to major health conditions which affect our heart, brain, kidney, blood and mental health.
Sleep deprivation may include: mood changes, anxiety, fatigue, poor motor function and chronic diseases like diabetes.
What happens during SLEEP?
Proper sleeping POSITIONS
Although there are multiple factors which may influence your ability to sleep. Aches, pains and poor posture may make it harder to fall or even stay asleep. If you are constantly woken up during your sleep cycle, your body may never enter deep sleep, which also means your body can not repair itself, brain function also decreases due to its inability to store new information and grow.
Here are some tips to help with your sleeping positions:
Sleeping on your stomach: Many of us find it easier to fall asleep on their stomach. Some may even unconsciously roll over onto their stomach during sleep. I know I do! Sleeping on your stomach has been found to add most strain on your back. The best way to compensate for this is placing a pillow under your hips and lower abdomen as well as under your head.
Side Sleepers: Study shows that the best way to sleep on your side is with both knees slightly bent, with a pillow between your legs and one under your head.
On your back: the optimal sleeping position is on your back. this allows your body to be in the correct posture while sleeping. If sleeping in this position is not comfortable, before changing into another position, try placing a pillow under your knees, a small rolled towel to support your lower back and don't forget one to support your neck.
How can Chiropractic care help?
There are multiple causes to inability to sleep. One of which being pain, poor posture or even just stiffness. Any one of these may cause you to wake up during a supposedly good nights sleep. A visit to your chiropractor may help keep your spine and posture at its optimal position. This may lead to better mobility which promotes relaxation and may reduce the chances of you being woken up during sleep.
The diagnosis of your headache will involve the doctor doing a physical examination, palpation, orthopaedic tests, muscle tests, range of motion assessment, functional tests, neuromuscular exam, and diagnostic imaging such as an ultrasound.
Your chiropractor will assist in:
Carefully and accurately diagnose your condition
Perform soft or deep tissue massage to alleviate muscular tension and pain
Implement spinal manipulative techniques to enforce joint movement and ease disc-related symptoms
Prescribe stretches and rehabilitative exercises
Recommend advice and lifestyle changes
- Ahmed F. Headache disorders: differentiating and managing the common subtypes. Br J Pain. 2012 Aug;6(3):124-32. doi: 10.1177/2049463712459691. PMID: 26516483; PMCID: PMC4590146.