Everyone knows that we need to sleep.
In fact all animals with a brain have to sleep.
But are you getting the correct type of sleep and do you wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve actually had a good sleep or are you groggy and feel even more tired than when you went to bed.
Why do we need to sleep?
Sleeping is where the body rebuilds. All the activities that you do during the day cause stress to your body and when we sleep your body sets about repairing cells, growing new cells and making tissues strong again for the next day.
This is why babies sleep so much and teenagers too, as their bodies go through a lot of change.
As you grow older you need less sleep, but you still need sleep and would not be able to function without it.
So how much sleep do we need?
That depends on a few things
– Your age
– how active you are during the day
– and your metabolism
But on average a person in their 20’s needs around 7- 8 hours each night for optimum daily living.
Now, if you are training a lot and putting a lot of stress through your body you will need more sleep. This is all well and good for professional athletes, who can go for a nap during the day, but it becomes a little bit more difficult for people who work, may have a family and train also.
So how can we make the best use of the sleep we get?
Lets first talk a little bit about the different stages of sleep.
There’s the first stage where you lie down, wind down and might doze off however, you can be awoken quite easily. Following this we go into a slightly deeper stage of sleep where our body temperature drops, and our heart rate and bodily processes slow down.
However these stages are not sufficient enough for adequate sleep or recovery.
What you need is to get into REM sleep, which is the deepest stage of sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is where we can have those wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful dreams. It is this stage where proper healing and recovery happens.
During a night we can go through a few cycles of these stages from light to deeper sleep before you wake up.
So lets try answer the earlier question of how do we make the best use of sleep.
There are a few general things you can do like
– Go to bed at a regular hour each night
– Try to avoid anything that increases you heart rate too much like alcohol, caffeine, certain foods and screens like laptops, phone or tablets.
here is one that not a lot of people know about –
Check to see if you breathe through your mouth or your nose when you sleep.
Anyone who has been a patient at my clinic will know the emphasis and the importance I place on breathing through your nose as it delivers oxygen more efficiently around your body and it allows the parasympathetic nervous system to work, which is the optimal phase for rest and digest. ( as opposed to fight or flight which is what we need our bodies to be in for a 100m race or when you have to talk to 500 people at a conference)
Some people even go so far as to tape their mouths with some micro-pore tape before they go to bed to ensure that they breath through their nose only, as they sleep. ( Just make sure you tell you partner you are doing this first before attempting it).
These people then claim to wake up feeling more refreshed, energized and with improved concentration through out the day.
How do you know if you breathe through your nose or mouth while you sleep?
If you snore, wake up with a dry mouth or find yourself waking up to use the toilet a lot during the night (ruling out bladder or prostate problems first) then chances are you are breathing through your mouth.
Can sleep deprivation influence pain?
In short yes. Fatigue can have an effect on the pain you feel and a 2016 study of 133 chronic knee arthritis patients found a link between poor sleep and pain.
Also clinically I find that people who wake up feeling stiff or achy normally sleep poorly.
At Midlands Physical Therapy I inform all my patients about the importance or nasal breathing to help get their body to change from a fight or flight phase to a rest and digest phase, which is important for tissue healing and recovery from pain and injury.
It is just one part, although an important part, in helping people who have been in pain for some time become more active, mobile and pain-free.
So if you are suffering with pain for some time, and find that you are not sleeping well then don’t just continue on like this because it can develop into a difficult cycle of pain and poor sleep that is hard to get out of.
If you are educated about your pain and the importance of the parasympathetic rest and digest phase then your pain can be reduced and you will sleep better which, in turn, will leave you feeling better and with less pain the next day.
Combine this with some manual therapy and movement exercises to help further reduce your pain and your on to a winner.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help people in Midlands Area get out of pain and back to activity and exercise then click on this link and fill out some details
Or you can call the clinic on 089 210 2586 and I will personally speak to you and answer any questions you may have.
So here’s hoping you get a restful nights sleep tonight.