Stress and sleeping difficulties



Stress is the feeling we have when we are under pressure or there is too much and we cannot cope effectively anymore. Anyone from any age experiences stress. Examples of stressors: having a baby/juggling family life, financial problems, family/personal relationships problems, job issues, studying for exams, traffic or loss of someone close to you.

When the body is under constant stress, we are on a fight-or-flight response. Our body produces more cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline. These are chemicals that will make your heart beat faster, increase alertness and get your muscles ready to flee a dangerous situation. The digestive and immune system slow down, and we are unable to sleep.

We see a lot of stressed patients in our practice. Most people tend to tense their neck and upper back muscles and subsequently have neck and back pain and stiffness. Patients will often say that they carry their stress on their shoulders. This can further lead to tension headaches or migraines, jaw clenching and difficulty sleeping. Osteopathic treatment is beneficial to help them feel less stressed and improve sleep quality. By working on the nervous system and addressing lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, meditation), we provide a holistic approach to reducing stress.

Osteopathic treatment has also been proven to be beneficial to those experiencing high levels of emotional or physiological stress and those at higher risk of acquiring upper respiratory tract infections. More importantly, osteopathy can provide good, lasting relaxation.

Sleeping difficulties

Stress inevitably leads to a deterioration in sleep quality. Sleep disturbances are especially common during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. Even babies can have their sleep patterns interrupted from infections, accidents, vaccination, teething and knocks to the head.

Osteopathy is the science of discovering what is contributing to the dysfunction which is causing the discomfort and manually assisting the body in adapting to the changes. The osteopathic treatment should allow the musculoskeletal, the digestive, the nervous, the immune and the circulatory system to work effectively and optimally and bring the body back to health. This holistic approach can lead to better sleep patterns.

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Mulcahy J, Vaughan B

Published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2014 October ; vol. 19, 4: pp. 235-246

The most frequently experienced sensations of osteopathy in the cranial field patients were "relaxed," "releasing," and "unwinding." Satisfaction With Life and Meaningfulness of Daily Activity were positively associated with Patient Perception Measure-Osteopathy in the Cranial Field scores. Negative associations were observed between the Patient Perception Measure-Osteopathy in the Cranial Field and depression. Psychometric properties of the Patient Perception Measure-Osteopathy in the Cranial Field require further testing. The observed associations of Satisfaction With Life and depression with patients' perceptions of osteopathy in the cranial field treatment needs to be tested in larger clinical manual therapy cohorts.

Giles PD, Hensel KL, Pacchia CF, Smith ML

Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2013 February, 19(2): 92-96

These data support the hypothesis that upper cervical spine manipulation can acutely affect measures of heart rate variability in healthy individuals.

Henderson AT, Fisher JF, Blair J, Shea C, Li TS, Bridges KG.

Published in J Am Osteopath Assoc 2010 Jun;110(6):324-30

The results of the present pilot study suggest that SNS activity may decrease immediately after rib raising, but the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and parasympathetic activity are not altered by this technique. Salivary alpha-amylase may be a useful biomarker for investigating manipulative treatments targeting the SNS. Additional studies with a greater number of subjects are needed to expand on these results.

Cutler MJ, Holland BS, Stupski BA, Gamber RG, Smith ML

Published in the J Altern Complement Med 2005 Feb;11(1):103-8.

The current study is the first to demonstrate that cranial manipulation, specifically the CV4 technique, can alter sleep latency and directly measured MSNA in healthy humans. These findings provide important insight into the possible physiologic effects of cranial manipulation. However, the mechanisms behind these changes remain unclear.