Sleep and the road to recovery

Published: 10 Jan 2020

Sleep and the road to recovery

How getting Zzzz’s may help you feel less pain

What does sleep have to do with Physiotherapy?…. Lots!  We believe it is so important, we have talked about it before.

The link between sleep and feeling better has been known for a long time.

Got a busy day tomorrow?  Well “you better get a good night’s sleep!”. Have a big test coming up? “Make sure you get a solid 8 hours!”. Going for an interview for that job you’ve had your eye on, well…. You get the picture. So why don’t we apply that to when we are injured?

Recent research

Recent studies have shown that our experience of pain is not only influenced by the nature of the physical injury, but is also affected by a large number of factors. One of these factors is sleep.

Sleep deprivation, which is defined as less than 6 hours sleep for 4 or more nights has been shown to increase pain levels by 25%.

That’s a large increase in pain for something as “simple” as sleep.  However, despite what appears like a generalised awareness of the importance of sleep almost 50% of us Aussies aren’t getting enough of it.  This suggests that something that may start as a niggle has the potential to cause significant pain if we aren’t giving our bodies the rest required for healing.

In the past decade there has been increased emphasis placed on the amount of sleep that athletes should be getting to maximize recovery, improve performance and reduce the risk of injuries. While not all of us are athletes, the same principles apply. Sleep helps reduce illness and injury risk.

What can we do to improve our sleep?

  • Relaxation techniques: deep breathing
  • Sleep in a cool dark room
  • Limit technology usage 1 hour before bed
  • Getting into a good bed-time routine

Phone use in bed is one that many of us are guilty of. It can interrupt our body’s natural sleep cycle and also prevent the establishment of routine. One handy strategy that I like to utilize is placing my phone on the other end of the room. This way the temptation to have a quick look at the social’s is outweighed by being too comfortable in bed!

For more information on sleep, one of our senior physio’s Tom Hamilton has written a blog on the fine line between not enough and too much sleep.  If you are unsure of sleep recommendations, check out this article.

I am hoping that this article helps you fight the urge continue that late night TV show binge so you can prevent that niggle from becoming painful!

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