Do you feel tired all the time? Do you wake up after a night of sleep and feel like you barely slept? Do you rarely, if ever, feel good and filled with energy? It could be a small bone in your neck that is wearing you out.
Our bodies are in a constant balancing act, regulating all of the things we never think about. Things like keeping our blood pressure not too high, or not too low. It’s the same with hormones, fluid levels, and countless other bodily functions. All of these things are controlled by our nervous system. All of it goes on while we go about our day. As long as everything stays in balance, we are all set. The problem comes when things begin to get out of balance.
We have two sides to our nervous system. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic (PSN). They are basically the gas pedal and the break pedal for our body. When we need to get up and go, the SNS is dominant, and when it is time to calm down, relax, sleep etc., the PNS needs to dominate.
Imagine you are walking across the plain and a lion starts chasing you. Your blood pressure jumps up, heart rate goes up, and blood is shuttled to your muscles, with all systems firing to get you moving as fast as possible. Suddenly, your body isn’t very worried about digestion, repair, healing, or your immune system. You are in fight or flight mode, and that is exactly where you need to be. While this is exactly what you want when Leo the lion is chasing you, it isn’t ideal 24 hours a day. If you are in continual fight or flight mode this is known as Sympathetic Dominance, and it’s really not good for you.
One of the most common things I see in the office, and one of the most common side effects of Sympathetic Dominance, is fatigue and sleep issues. No matter how much sleep the person gets, they don’t feel rested, and getting through life just feels much harder than it should be. Whether the issue is trouble going to sleep, or staying asleep, they often can’t tell you the last time they woke up feeling good.
If our bodies are functioning properly and our nervous system is balanced we go through 5 stages of sleep. The fourth stage is the deepest and it is most important that we reach this stage. It is the point when growth hormone release is at its highest. This is an important factor in cell reproduction and repair. Without it our bodies are unable to fully recover. Night after night of this, and your body starts to break down a bit. This leads to fatigue, lowered immune function, and a general lack of wellness.
When the sympathetics are in control, we also release hormones from our adrenal glands called epinephrine/norepinephrine. These are our stress hormones, and serve to increase blood pressure, heart rate etc. Again, if we are locked in fight or flight, these are being released all the time. Eventually we reach adrenal burnout, and then when we actually need these hormones, they aren’t released properly. So, we are tired, and when we try to access the reserve gas tank, it is empty.
An upper neck misalignment can irritate the the sympathetic nerves and stimulate them. This leads to an imbalance, and locks us into fight or flight. Many times we can trace the fatigue back to a neck trauma. A slip, fall, car accident or some other injury. Once corrected the nerve fibers begin to behave properly, and the body returns to balance. Improved sleep is one of the number one things I hear about on the follow up visit. Patients that have been under upper cervical care will often tell you their energy has never been higher.
It is certainly important to have a good bedtime routine, eat properly, and get some exercise. Those are all important in overall health, but if the system that controls everything we do and everything we are isn’t running properly, we are in trouble.
Who knows…..good sleep and endless energy might be just an adjustment away. The only way to find out though is to come in to Upper Cervical Health Centers of Fort Myers for a free consultation. Give us a call!
Dr. Lee Angle
Dr. Lee Angle is originally from southern West Virginia. After having his life changed through Upper Cervical Care he chose to pursue it as a career. He has been practicing Upper Cervical Chiropractic for over nine years. Dr. Angle previously worked as a certified personal trainer. This background allows him to educate his patients on proper movement and exercises to speed their recovery and enhance their Upper Cervical Care.