How much priority do you give to your sleep? Are you suffering from chronic pain, recovering from surgery or have a new injury? Sleep plays an unquestionably crucial role in your bodies ability to heal. Yes, there are many factors that play into your bodies healing response and your ability to recover and reduce pain and inflammation. Diet, exercise and specific physical therapy intervention are a few important ones to mention, however the importance of sleep is often swept under the rug.
Sleep is one of our most valuable tools to regain and maintain our health but unfortunately it is often the first thing to lose priority, especially when we are busy and stressed (when we really need it the most, right?). We associate decreased sleep with increased productivity. However, in the long run, lack of sleep may lead to a multitude of health problems including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, increased risk of accidents, falls, dementia, decreased ability to heal from injury and the list goes on. Adequate sleep is vital to immune function, tissue healing, pain modulation, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, learning and memory (Siengsukon 2017). Start giving priority to your sleep and see the abundant benefits that unfold.
Here are a few easy tips to get a more restful night sleep and make a drastic impact on your health:
1. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon/evening.
2. Exercise – adopting a regular exercise routine will have numerous benefits but will also help your body be ready for a good night rest. Even 10-15 minutes a day is excellent!
3. Eat dinner earlier in the evening and avoid large meals before bedtime so your body can focus on sleeping rather than digesting.
4. Avoid using electronics 1 hour before bedtime and keep electronics out of the bedroom.
5. Block out all light (even the tiny dot lights on your electronics). This prepares our system for sleep and helps us sleep deeper.
6. Establish a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday.
One of my personal favorite books which I recommend to all my clients with sleep disturbances is called 21 Ways To Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson. The title speaks for itself and the book is filled with valuable, simple tools that will undoubtedly improve your quality of sleep and thus your overall health and well being.
Happy sleeping and happy healing!
Hannah Nicholson, PT, DPT