Chiropractors and their patients have long believed that regular chiropractic care provides substantial health benefits. This case study seeks to describe the how chiropractic maintenance care may influence the sleep behaviour of patients with insomnia. 

Research – A tripartite pilot study to evaluate the effect of chiropractic care on insonmia was conducted. The expectations of the chiropractic community were canvassed, a retrospective study to recall changes in sleep patterns was undertaken and a prospective pilot study to monitor sleep patterns following chiropractic care was carried out. Convenience sampling was used. 

Results – The 221 patients and 15 chiropractors who completed the expectation study tended to believe that patients with sleeping difficulties benefited from chiropractic care. The chiropractors were more guarded in their expectations than participating patients. One third of the 154 patients who completed the semi-structured interview reported their sleep pattern was changed immediately following their chiropractic adjustment. All but 1 of these 52 patients reported improvement. Twenty patients with insomnia participated in the prospective study. Although, compared to the report in their screening questionnaire, improvement was noted in certain sleep parameters in the 6 days following their adjustment, no temporal trends emerged in the days and/or weeks following the chiropractic consultation. The majority of patients reported experiencing less or no discomfort during the duration of the study. 

Discussion – Despite optimistic expectations and positive patient perceptions this study produced little objective evidence to suggest that routine chiropractic care improves disordered sleep behaviour. Although a number of patients do perceive chiropractic care offers temporary respite from their insomnia problem, when changes were more objectively monitored, improvements were erratic and no consistent temporal trends were detectable. 

Conclusion – Convincing evidence has yet to be produced before routine chiropractic care can be considered adequate intervention for patients with sleeping difficulties. More definitive answers may result from future research being undertaken in sleep laboratories. 

Grant Value: $10,653
Chief Investigator: Professor Jennifer Jamison
Status: Complete

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