Ever heard of sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe good sleeping habits. But first lets talk about why it is important to sleep in the first place.
In regard to rehabilitation, sleeping can be seen as part of our recovery process. When we sleep we release something called human growth hormones or also known as HGH. HGH is a complex protein produced by our brain and it is the driving force of a child’s maturation and part of the repair and restoration process of our body.
During deep sleep or also known as REM sleep, we secrete HGH throughout our body to allow us to grow and repair. By having inadequate sleep you can halt this process. Hence part of the rehabilitation after an injury is to have adequate sleep.
Having a lack of good sleep can also halt your performance, even if you train hard in the day and eat all the right foods, by having insufficient sleep it can really hinder your athletic abilities. According to a research conducted on elite athletes, by having a sufficient nights rest you can:
- Improve reaction time
- Reduce injury rates
- Better accuracy and sprint times
Besides from the sporting advantages of sleep, having a good night’s rest can also boost your health by:
- Keeping you slimmer
- Studies time and time again have shown a direct relationship between lack of sleep and obesity. It’s been shown that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a day tend to gain more weight and have a higher risk of obesity compared to those who get more than 7 hours. Its been proposed that sleep deprived people have altered levels of leptin and ghrelin hormone, hormones that are responsible for regulating our hunger.
- Boosting your mental well being and immunity
- Chronic sleep deprivation have been linked to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
- Preventing diabetes
- Studies have shown that people who sleep for less than 5 hours a night have a significantly higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Increase fertility
- Lack of sleep can disrupt our body’s secretion of reproductive hormones leading to an increase likelihood of infertility.
- Prevent heart diseases
- Chronic sleep deprivation has been closely linked with an increase risk of cardiovascular impairments, causing increases in blood pressure and certain levels of chemicals linked with inflammation, putting more strain on the heart.
However not all is lost, we can easily reverse this by catching up on sleep or repaying your sleep debt. This won’t happen with a single early night, if you have had months of restricted sleep it’ll take weeks to recover. Start by adding a few hours of sleep a night can slowly pay of, for those who have been sleep deprived for months expect to bank up to 10 hours of sleep a night.
To ensure quality sleep we need to make sure our sleep hygiene is squeaky clean. By having good sleep hygiene we can ensure quality sleep to start paying back our sleep debt. Here are some easy tips to ensure good sleep hygiene:
- Have a sleep routine
- One of the best ways to ensure a good nights sleep is to train your body to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends This regular rhythm will calibrate your circadian rhythm, promoting healthy bodily function.
- Get up and try again
- If you have not been able to fall asleep within 20minutes of laying in bed, try and get up and do something calming and boring until you feel sleepy, then return to bed. Try and find a task that is not too stimulating because this can have the opposite effect of making you more alert.
- Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants which helps you stay awake and alert, try and avoid these substances 6 hours prior to heading to bed.
- It is true that alcohol does calm you down and make you sleepy, but it instead it can interrupt y our circadian rhythm by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. Alcohol has also been shown to disrupt our REM sleep and cause breathing troubles during sleep.
- The bed should only be reserved for sleep and the occasional you know what, this to associate bed with sleep. If you use your bed as a place to watch TV, read a book or work your body will not learn this connection.
- It is best to avoid naps during the day to make sure that you are tired when it is bed time. If you can’t make it through the day without a nap try an make it so that the nap is less than an hour and before 3pm.
- Develop your own ritual to tell your body that it is time to go sleep, this can be as simple as doing a bit of meditation, stretching or having a warm cup of milk.
- Having a warm shower/bath before bed time can raise your body temperature causing you to feel sleepy. Research has shown that sleepiness is associated with a drop in temperature.
- Regular exercise has been shown to promote quality sleep
- A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep well, but also the timing of when you eat is important. Some people find it very difficult to sleep on an empty stomach so having a light snack can help, but a heavy meal before bed can interrupt sleep. Milk is often recommended since it contains tryptophan which acts as a natural sleep inducer.
- Make sure that your bed and bedroom are suited for sleep. A cooler room with enough blankets to keep you warm is the best way to get a comfortable sleep. Low levels of light and noise is also crucial. Having an eye mask or ear plugs can.
Lana Johnson is BPS Tensegrity owner and head physiotherapists as well as head Pilates instructor across all three of BPS practices;
Interested in BPS Pilates? Try our $49 Unlimited Monthly Pass BOOK YOUR CLASS HERE
In need of a physiotherapist? For new clients receive 50% OFF your first 60min appointment at all locations CONTACT US TODAY