Objective: To evaluate the effect of chiropractic care on insomnia.
Design: Tripartite pilot study.
Methods: 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 after 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 semistructured interview reported their sleep pattern was changed immediately after their chiropractic adjustment. All but 1 of these 52 patients reported improvement. Twenty patients with insomnia participated in the prospective study. Although compared with the report in their screening questionnaire, improvement was noted in certain sleep parameters in the 6 days after their adjustment, no temporal trends emerged in the days and/or weeks after the chiropractic consultation. Most patients reported experiencing less or no discomfort during the duration of the study.
Conclusion: 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. 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.