Sleep Disorders

Posted in Functional Medicine Conditions on Dec 20, 2021

Sleep Disorder Types (the short list)

 There are three main types of sleep disorders: insomnia, sleep apnea / snoring and restless leg syndrome RLS.

Insomnia is when you can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. Sleep apnea is when your airways shut down during sleep and this causes snoring, which can lead to a lack of oxygen and restless nights for the sufferer and his/her partner. Snoring is when your airways become partially blocked with fluid or mucus during sleep, which causes sound like a growling animal or a motorcycle.

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If you're experiencing any of these issues it's important to visit your doctor because they're often associated with bigger problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Insomnia

We have all been there. That feeling of being so tired and exhausted that you can't keep your eyes open, but the moment you try to sleep, it seems impossible. Your mind races and you can't seem to get a break from your thoughts. Between work, family, friends, and social obligations just to name a few - it's tough to find time for yourself!

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Snoring

Snoring can be reduced by a nudge from the sleeping partner because side sleeping often stops the attack. But sleep apnea may need a little more help.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea often gets treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. The CPAP machine blows air into a person's nose and mouth to keep the air passage open during sleep. It helps to prevent sleep apnea and snoring problems. But many people find the device too uncomfortable to use.

Another treatment is surgery, which includes a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). These surgeries reduce the size of tonsils and adenoids surrounding the throat passage. This highly invasive and immune system disrupting surgery may increase the airflow from nose to lungs for an improved breathing pattern during sleep.

But since I often see patients after this procedure didn’t work, I have my doubts about how much it helps.

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Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) which causes an overwhelming urge to move one’s legs or body due to discomfort or tingling sensations in the limbs for at least an hour every night before bedtime. Often treated with psychiatric, antiseizure, opioids and muscle relaxant medications.

Some people respond well to balancing their vitamin and mineral needs (rarely satisfied with off the shelf products).

Functional Rehabilitation For Sleep Disorders

Medical doctors do not get paid to give lifestyle counseling. So you can’t expect more than a prescription for sleep medication, additional tests, or a surgical consult. And that may be important for some people, in fact I recommend anyone with any sleep disorder get a complete evaluation by their medical doctor first.

But if they don’t want sleeping pills, surgery or a natural supplement of the month subscription, or any other one size fits all cookie cutter approach to their health care, they should try a functional evaluation.

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Because I believe (after curing my own insomnia, restless leg syndrome, snoring and sleep apnea.) that throat narrowing can be more functional than structural. Because the bones in the neck (cervical spine) should line up in a gentle forward bending curve, like a bow about to shoot an arrow. The bowstring in this analogy is the muscles that run between the head and shoulders. If there’s a kink anywhere in the joints of neck, then the tension from head to shoulder changes. And that can change the size of the opening in the throat and irritate the nerves going to the legs as well.

But brain chemistry, gut health, muscle tension, over sensitive nerves can often benefit from a functional evaluation and upper cervical chiropractic to help relieve abnormal pain and nerve stress, relax tense and twitchy muscles, and restore mineral and probiotic balance.

Disclaimer

Upper cervical chiropractic and functional medicine saved my life in so many ways. And is the missing piece of the sleep disorder puzzle for so many of my patients. No doctor can guarantee the outcome of any procedure and I never do. Plus my results and the results of my sleep disorder patients must be considered anecdotal. The mechanisms of these treatments will never be understood or approved by any drug or insurance company.

And I’d love to see if I can help you get better sleep.

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