How is your sleep?

Do you sleep as sound as this baby?

One of my favourite questions to ask during an initial assessment is: “How is your sleep?”.

More often than not, the patient is a bit confused about why their physio is asking them this question. In short, your quality of sleep can affect your quality of life.

Good quality sleep and recovery are vital for athletic performance, injury rehabilitation, mental health, and injury prevention.

The fancy definition for recovery is an “inter- and intraindividual multilevel process for the re-establishment of personal resources and their full functional capacity.”

In other words, the things you can do to get yourself back to baseline and address insufficient sleep at night.

This can include self-recovery tools (i.e., foam rolling, stretching, low-intensity exercise, saunas, etc.) or when you seek help from others (i.e., massage therapy, physio, athletic trainers, etc.).

The goal here is to recover as quickly as possible, improve mental health, and develop healthy sleep patterns so you can do the things you love again.

The Importance of Sleep For Recovery

Sleep is one, if not the most important, component of recovery. The body releases hormones during prolonged sleep that is vital to recovery.

These hormones act on many tissues to improve healing, recovery, and growth. When in deeper stages of sleep, blood flow increases in our muscles and tissues, allowing oxygen and nutrients to enter, which stimulates repair and growth.

Sleep also affects the body’s response to stress and nutrition by affecting metabolism. Studies have shown that poor sleep patterns slows our metabolism and increases the likelihood of inflammation in the body which can negatively impact physical activity.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation is closely linked to mood, cognitive functioning, and by extension, mental well-being.

The Effects of Poor Sleep

A night of insufficient sleep isn’t going to affect us that much, but chronic sleep deprivation is when we start to see some of the aforementioned negative effects.

The amount of sleep an adult needs varies from person to person, but most should aim to have anywhere between seven to nine hours each night.

Elite athletes tend to sleep more, with a sleep duration of about 10-12 hours a night and are known to even take pre-game naps.

But most of us aren’t performing at Roger Federer or Connor McDavid’s level and don’t have jobs that let us take a mid-day nap.

How Good Sleep Hygiene Can Help

Where and how you sleep is a whole other science within sleep hygiene, sleep efficiency, and sleep duration.

In general, you want to be in a comfortable positioning during sleep (i.e., side or back) on a supportive mattress and pillow and be free of sleep disturbances (i.e., free of noise, light, etc.) that will allow you to sleep optimally for at least seven hours.

Posture can easily cause chronic pain and how you position your body while you sleep is no exception!

Sleep Good – Feel Great!

If you’ve noticed that you have been getting injured more often, recovering slower, eating less, having a poor mood, and/or having poor cognitive functioning, it might be poor sleep that is causing it.

Recovering from injuries is never just physical, so we must look at other aspects as well, such as poor sleep quality.

For more information on the importance of sleep or to explore deeper causes of your pain and discomfort, please do not hesitate to contact our team of professional physiotherapists at Atlas.

Otherwise – Go take a nap!