Why is sleep important?
It is common for some people to experience sleep problems. Symptoms may include fatigue, lack of focus and short temper. These symptoms usually follow a poor night’s sleep. A rare poor night’s sleep is not an issue, but chronic changes in sleep can have adverse effects on our overall health. You may find it difficult to concentrate. You may experience low mood and be more prone to medical conditions including obesity and high blood pressure. Other potential risks include heart disease and diabetes . This can have a negative effect on a person’s quality of life. It is important we consider how to change this in order to learn How To Sleep Better.
Why do physiotherapists talk about this?
At Physioflexx Ayrshire we have discovered there are associated risks with poor sleep and injury risk. Not only from a physical perspective but also psychological. If we feel low mood and have other psychological issues associated with poor sleep, this can have negative outcomes resulting in longer rehabilitation times. Our bodies need time to recover physically and mentally. If these demands are not met, we are more susceptible to injury and pain. There is evidence to support this with increased risk of musculoskeletal injury in adolescents (Gao et al., 2019) and chronic pain in wider population (Boakye et al., 2016), amongst others.
So, how can you sleep better and what can you do about it?
Read on for some sleep advice for you to apply (adapted advice from Jeremy Christey)
- Establish how much sleep you actually get
- Some people will be convinced they have a sleep problem even if they sleep undisturbed.
- Establish how many hours you had rather than how many you think you had.
- Complete a diary within an hour of waking noting duration, quality and pattern of you sleep and be too critical or worry about what you write.
- Use your bed only for sleep (and being intimate)
- DO NOT watch TV and use your phone in bed!
- If you are awake for more than 15 minutes during the night- get up and read. but make it something boring e.g. instruction manual until you get tired then, return to bed.
- Learn about your circadian rhythm
- This refers to your “internal clock” and changes between low and high wakefulness levels throughout the day.
- Do not set a rigid bed-time .
- More important to go to bed when you are tired and sleepy.
- DO have a fixed wake up time!
- Get light/daylight in the morning
- Research suggests 10,000 lumens or more.
- Open the curtains and get outside if possible.
- Could try a light alarm that illuminates the room as you wake.
- Keep your room cool
- If your room is too warm and stuffy you are likely to get disturbed by this.
- Try a duvet each if you sleep with a partner.
- Avoid napping
- But if you must- keep it less than 20 mins.
- Napping causes your body to reset and delays the time at which you would normally be tired.
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
- Set realistic goals e.g. no caffeine after 3pm and then bring it forward as you are able.
- If you are interested in learning more…
- Self-help book: Insomnia and Sleep Problems by Colin A. Espie
- 6-week CBT programme
Increased risk of musculoskeletal injury in adolescents with chronic lack of sleep (Gao, B., Dwivedi, S., Milewski, M.D. and Cruz Jr, A.I., 2019. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injury in adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 7(3_suppl), p.2325967119S00132.)
Complex relationships between chronic pain, depression and sleep disruption (Boakye, P.A., Olechowski, C., Rashiq, S., Verrier, M.J., Kerr, B., Witmans, M., Baker, G., Joyce, A. and Dick, B.D., 2016. A critical review of neurobiological factors involved in the interactions between chronic pain, depression, and sleep disruption. The Clinical journal of pain, 32(4), pp.327-336.)