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February, 2013

Help Your Patients Heal Through Sleep Wellness

By Kenna S. Ducey-Clark, DC

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series.

When I opened my integrated clinic many years ago, I set out to do something different and approach chiropractic and health care as a whole in a way that many hadn't yet done. Prevention health care was still a fairly unknown concept to both patients and many mainstream health practitioners, and an interdisciplinary clinic orchestrated by a DC, was also not that common. Looking back, never in my wildest dreams did I think this road would lead me to sleep wellness.

My approach to patient care has always been functional-based. From diagnosing and resolving a simple cervical spine sprain strain to working with chronic pain caused by insomnia, my goal is to find the root cause of disease and dysfunction, correct it and assist in helping my patients build up their health from there. Whether a patient suffers from an auto-immune disorder or is being seen for well care, my clinical approach takes into account five core principles. These principles are drawn from our basic needs to support the body and help achieve viable and abundant health. Those five basics (and I stress "basics") are:

  1. Breathing - The critical need for oxygen.
  2. Hydration - The human body consists of 55-78 percent water, depending on age and sex.
  3. Sleeping - Instrumental in cellular healing.
  4. Nutrients - Need I say any more?
  5. Exercise - We are mechanical creatures that have not been designed for a sedentary lifestyle.

Deficiency in any of these areas makes the body susceptible to breakdown, so I want to identify and correct these deficiencies if any are noted.


Like many DCs have experienced, my clinic has expanded and contracted over the years. At one time, I had 18 different practitioners, all with their own specialty, working with me. Today, my clinic consists of myself, a DO, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist and a superior staff that makes my clinic hum without effort.

I have what most would call a boutique practice, built strictly on referrals, with a 90 percent patient retention rate. Although mostly sports-injury oriented with a functional medicine foundation, I cater to all people and they share the common thread of wanting to stay healthy and fit. Sixty-seven percent of my practice is self-pay and I'm not an inexpensive visit. The percentage remaining is private-pay insurance, with a small portion of personal injury.

My patients know that they always will get my undivided attention, a total-body approach, with my care; health advocacy if they have illnesses or injuries out of my scope of practice; and most importantly, practical, useful information – tools and products to help them better their overall health when they are away from my clinic. I have a great practice filled with like-minded patients who look to me as their trusted compass through the health care system. They know that I walk my talk and only endorse things I believe in and use in my own life.

Problem Sleep

As I gained experience in practice, I easily incorporated resources to aid in assisting my patients with those five core principles vital to abundant health: breathing, hydration, sleeping, nutrients and exercise. I was able to successfully master all areas with ease, with the exception of sleep. I was acutely aware of sleep being a health issue, especially when it came to pain, early on in my training as a DC. I recognized that those who suffered from insomnia due to pain tended to heal much slower than those who were able to obtain a decent night's sleep. And after several years in practice, I saw an increase in what I thought to be diseases linked to environmental / toxic exposure factors, an increase in complaints of insomnia and, sadly, an increase in those taking prescription drugs for insomnia-related issues. What I was observing in my practice gave me a deep sense that something fundamentally wrong was happening with the way we sleep in the modern world, but I just couldn't put my finger on it.

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