The Importance and Impact of Sleep During Injury Recovery
Sleep is a vital part of our lives and imperative to our healing, both mentally and physically. Sleep is often overlooked as a part of our injury rehabilitation plan. Healthy sleep habits can accelerate healing time, reduce the risk of developing chronic injuries as well as help prevent future injuries. And let's face it, we just simply feel better and more energized after a good night's rest.
How does sleep aid in injury recovery?
Not only does sleep allow the body a chance to repair by the simple act of not moving as we do during the day, it also chemically rejuvenates our minds and bodies. When in a deep sleep (REM) growth hormone, needed for tissue regeneration and repair is released. When we are sleeping the need for oxygen decreases and lowers the amount of energy required for digestion allowing the body to devote that energy to building the proteins needed for healthy healing.
How is my injury affected due to the lack of sleep?
Lack of sleep not only slows recovery but also increases the risk of injury. Mentally we are slower and our judgement and reaction time may then be affected. Sleep deprivation does not allow our bodies to reach the level of sleep required for the hormonal release to happen. Lack of sleep can also promote chronic inflammation.
What if my injury is preventing me from sleeping?
Unfortunately, an injury can be a major contributing factor to not being able to fall asleep or to staying asleep. Depending on the injury, adjustments in sleeping positions, anti-inflammatory medication, heating pads, ice packs, weighted blankets, or a specialized pillow can all help.
Tips for a better night's sleep:
consistent wake and sleep times, routine helps
limit or forgo daytime naps
healthy diet, limiting food 3 hours before bed
limit caffeine and alcohol before bed
set a reminder an hour before bed to start winding down
meditation or other relaxation techniques
regular exercise (not before bed)
white noise machine or a fan to fade outside noise
relaxing shower or bath before bed
getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep
Sleep plays a key role in your health. Making your sleep routine a top priority will help ensure the optimal results mentally and in the healing of your injury.