Sleep like a baby & physical therapy

A photo of Dr. Nekita Sullivan, owner of Yoga Therapy Bar
Dr. Nekita Sullivan
April 4, 2024
Sleep like a baby & physical therapy

Sleep like a baby & physical therapy

Sleep difficulties are a significant issue in America, affecting millions of individuals across the country. Several factors contribute to the prevalence of sleep problems, including lifestyle habits, stress, medical conditions, and environmental factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults in the United States report not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Additionally, about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders.

Insomnia, characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early, is one of the most common sleep disorders in America. It can be caused by various factors, including stress, anxiety, medical conditions, medications, and lifestyle habits. Sleep apnea is another prevalent sleep disorder in the United States. It is characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to fragmented sleep and daytime fatigue. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type, often associated with obesity, aging, and anatomical factors. Many Americans work non-traditional hours or rotating shifts, which can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) and lead to sleep difficulties. Shift workers are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, and other sleep disorders. The use of electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers before bedtime can interfere with sleep by emitting blue light, which suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, the constant connectivity and stimulation from technology can contribute to insomnia and poor sleep quality. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders are closely linked to sleep difficulties. Chronic stress can disrupt sleep patterns, exacerbate insomnia, and contribute to sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome (RLS) and parasomnias. Chronic sleep deprivation and untreated sleep disorders can have serious health consequences, including an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, and accidents. Efforts to address sleep difficulties in America include public health campaigns promoting healthy sleep habits, workplace initiatives to improve sleep hygiene for shift workers, research into the underlying causes and treatments of sleep disorders, and increased awareness among healthcare providers and the general public about the importance of sleep for overall health and well-being.

Physical therapists can help improve sleep through various approaches that address underlying issues contributing to sleep disturbances. Here are some ways physical therapists can help:

1.    Assessment and Education: Physical therapists can conduct assessments to identify musculoskeletal issues, pain, mobility limitations, or other factors that may be affecting sleep. They can educate patients about the importance of proper sleep hygiene and how physical therapy interventions can help improve sleep quality.

2.    Pain Management: Chronic pain is a common cause of sleep disturbances. Physical therapists can utilize techniques such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercises, modalities like heat or cold therapy, and ergonomic education to alleviate pain and discomfort, making it easier for patients to sleep.

3.    Exercise Prescription: Physical therapists can prescribe tailored exercise programs to improve overall physical fitness, mobility, and strength. Regular exercise has been shown to promote better sleep quality and duration.

4.    Posture Correction: Poor posture can contribute to musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, which may disrupt sleep. Physical therapists can provide posture correction strategies and ergonomic recommendations for sleeping positions and work environments to reduce strain on the body.

5.    Stress Reduction Techniques: Stress and anxiety can significantly impact sleep quality. Physical therapists can teach relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices to help patients manage stress and promote relaxation before bedtime.

6.    Behavioral Strategies: Physical therapists can work with patients to establish healthy sleep habits and routines, such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine and electronic devices before bedtime.

7.    Collaboration with Other Healthcare Providers: Physical therapists often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, psychologists, or sleep specialists, to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients with complex sleep issues.

By addressing these aspects, physical therapists can play a crucial role in helping individuals overcome barriers to restorative sleep and improve their overall quality of life. Dr. Nekita Sullivan is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, certified Yoga Pilates, and certified health education specialist providing physical therapy, yoga, Pilates, and wellness services. She has 20 plus years of experience. Yoga Therapy Bar is proud to offer services in the Upstate. Email Dr. Nekita Sullivan at for details about "sleep like a baby" workshops or assessments for individuals and groups. You can also check us out on the web at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linked In. #bodyandmind #holistic #goodsleep #sleepandphysicaltherapy #sleeplikeababy