Sleep is important in so many respects but ask any physio in Auckland, and they’ll tell you that it plays a particularly big role during a period of injury recovery. We’re no exception. Everyone working at our locations throughout the city knows that the way we experience pain is not just influenced by the physical injury itself, but also by a large number of other factors, with sleep being just one of them.
A lot of research has been done into the link between sleep deprivation – which is commonly defined as being less than six hours of sleep for four or more nights – and pain. There is now enough evidence to conclude that this amount of sleep deprivation can increase pain levels by 25%. Little wonder we counsel our patients to get a good nights rest!
Good quality sleep gives our bodies the opportunity to rest up, and this is essential for healing. Without that rest, what can start as just an uncomfortable niggle can actually cause pain at levels well beyond what the injury should really produce. Being well-rested and getting plenty of sleep is now recognised as a key factor in recovery alongside actual physical therapies, like the ones we provide. In the past 10 to 20 years, this has seen a greater emphasis on the amount of sleep athletes need to optimise their recovery, improve their performance, reduce the risk of injuries and, crucially, to minimise the pain they feel when injuries do occur. Of course, not everyone who comes into our city and North Shore physio clinics is an athlete but it doesn’t matter. The same rule applies: sleep helps reduce illness, further injury risk and pain.
So, how can we enjoy a better quality of sleep? Quality is more important than quantity in many respects. There’s no point spending 8 hours in bed if you’re tossing and turning all night and only sleeping intermittently. It’s about deep and restful sleep, and here are some ways you can achieve that:
- Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga or meditation can help.
- Sleep in a cool and darkened room. If the temperature is too high, your body’s core temperature will not allow you to doze off in good time.
- Limit technology use to one before bed and don’t watch TV in the bedroom before you sleep.
- Get into a good bed-time routine and stick to it. Try and go to bed and get up at the same time.
In the digital age, where we’re seemingly glued to our smartphones we should leave these devices in another room and resist the temptation of using them while we’re in bed. Phone use at this time can interrupt our body’s natural sleep cycle and disrupt the all-important routine you’re trying to establish. Once you’re into that routine and sleeping soundly every night, you’ll feel much better for it.