Steps to improve your sleep routine

October 13, 2010 by
Filed under: Research, Spinewave Bulletin 

Want to get smart? Get more sleep. Sleep plays an imperative role in cognitive function. Sleep allows the brain to juggle the input of new information. Individuals who lose even small amounts of sleep on a daily basis show progressive impairment of cognitive performance and elevation of C-reactive protein (inflammation). Here are some ways to improve your rapid eye movement (REM) time:

Establish a bedtime routine to help your body and mind relax. Just like children thrive on a consistent bedtime routine, you can too. Watch your favourite TV series every night before bed, read a chapter of a book or do the same night time bathroom routine. This consistency will signal your brain that it’s time to go to bed.

Get regular sunlight or bright light during the day to help sleep better at night. This helps set your body’s internal clock, signalling the difference between daytime and night. As such, levels of melatonin, your body’s naturally occurring hormone that causes drowsiness, rise as darkness falls.

Eat before bed. While it may seem counter-intuitive, consider eating a light snack before bedtime if you tend to get hungry during the night. Foods such as bananas, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and chamomile tea are all conducive to sleep.

Get adjusted. Chiropractic adjustments bring ease to your nervous system, relieve stress and help you sleep better (click here to read Karen’s insomnia story). The upper brainstem has important cells that are a part of our “arousal system” which fire into the thalamus and cortex. Proper firing of these cells occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is accompanied by cortical activation, loss of muscle tone in the body and active dreams. Adjusting the upper neck changes the way the brainstem fires and people tend to sleep better.


Dean, C., et al. 365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power. 2009.

Saper, C. B. et al. Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature. Vol 437. 2005.

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