Are you in pain and just can’t seem to break free of the discomfort? Or, are you feeling under the weather, stiff, groggy, without energy, and just plain drained? If so, then it might be time to turn your attention to your sleeping habits. Your sleep is essential not just for your mood, but for your health. In this post I look at how sleep affects your health and why paying attention to your sleeping habits might just be the breakthrough you’re looking for on your journey to a pain free life.
Let me start by sharing something interesting. Research has shown that the habits you form before bed greatly affect the amount of time you sleep, as well as the quality of your rest. I’ll let you think about this for a minute – we’ll get back to that later. For now, though, let’s have a look at why we need a good night’s rest:
Healing: Muscle and Joint Health
If you’re currently suffering from back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, or any ailment causing you discomfort, one of the best things you can do is get more sleep. Why? Because your slumber actually accelerates the body’s natural healing processes, allowing your muscles to recoup and your cells to repair.
Not only is a good night’s rest vital for your body to heal, but it is also preventative. Yes, that’s right. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even kidney disease may be prevented by getting some shut-eye. Sleep also boosts your immune system, as the dual effects of healing and strengthening the body occur while you snore.
There is also an inadvertent way in which sleep helps you maintain an active lifestyle. Once we sleep enough, we find the energy to take part in those activities that keep our bodies healthy. From running, to swimming, sleeping well during the night allows us to harness the energy needed to keep our joints and muscles active, thereby avoiding pain and immobility.
Sleep improves the way in which your brain functions, and this is because it improves the way your neurons fire. By sleeping enough, you actually allow your memory to improve and your brain health to increase over time. Reaction-time, agility, and awareness are just some of the advantageous side effects of sleeping well.
Those are just three of the most common advantages of getting enough sleep. Relieving stress, losing weight, feeling happier, and being calmer can all be included in the rather extensive list of positives.
So, getting enough sleep is clearly a good thing, then. But, how much is too much? According to research, getting between 7-8 hours of sleep a night is ideal. Too little and you’ll feel tired, drained of energy, and foggy. Too much, however, and the myriad of benefits actually deplete. There has to be a balance, as too much sleep might aggravate pain and make you feel even worse!
Right, I know you’ll be aiming for the golden 8 hours of sleep now, right? But, if you’re worried about filling the time, what are a few of the things you could do to make the process a little easier? Well, remember how, at the beginning of this post, I told you that your habits play a large role in both the amount and quality of your sleep? Well, here’s why that’s so, as well as what to do about it in order to sleep better:
Avoid screens before bed.
If you’re in the habit of hopping on the sofa after work, tuning in to Netflix, and going to bed after the movie finishes at 12:00 am, then you better stop. Watching TV straight before bed is a surefire way to keep your mind too active to fall asleep. And not only that, playing on your smartphone, staring at a computer screen, or even reading your Kindle might keep sleep away. Try turning off all your tech at least 45 minutes before bedtime.
Avoid food – especially sugar!
This is a hard one to kick, I know. Many of us love our chocolates and snacks just before bed, but if you want your energy levels to lower, your mind to relax, and your body to follow suit, it’s best to avoid food before bed, especially those sugary snacks we often crave. Try to form a habit of eating your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bed.
Try to go to bed at the same me each night.
You may have heard this one before, right? Except the problem is that you’re also a little addicted to reading just one more news article, or playing just one more round of solitaire. If you haven’t already created a habit of going to bed at one particular time AND waking up at another set time, it’s best you do. This habit is a game-changer – try it. You’ll see the results after just a few nights.
Don’t drink too many liquids before bed.
Does this sound familiar? Some of us love tea, others love juice, and some enjoy water. Whatever your liquid of choice, try not to drink too much of it before bed. If you do, you’ll end up getting up during the night, therefore interrupting your sleep and your body’s healing processes.
Calm your mind.
If you listen to heavy metal before bed, well… stop. Calm your mind, instead. Burn some incense, sing a relaxing song, listen to some instrumental music, or just lie down quietly for a while. Whatever you do, make sure you associate that behavior with sleep – this allows your body to form a habit that will encourage a healthful, deep, healing slumber.
Exercise during the day.
Exercise makes all the difference when it comes to a good night’s rest. Working out during the day actually burns off excess energy, all of which could otherwise keep you away at night. Running a little, swimming, walking, or even cycling are all great ways of guaranteeing a deeper, more healthful sleep. Why not try ditching the TV for a walk? You’ll be astounded at the results.
Visit a physical therapist.
If you’re currently experiencing pain that is interrupting your sleep, and you’ve been waiting for it to disappear on its own – yet to no avail – then I urge you to reach out to one of our qualified, professional physical therapists. Not only is your body not healing, you might actually be aggravating your pain! Physical therapy is the best way to get to the root cause of the problem and give you back your pain-free night’s rest. Let us help you with hands-on treatment and exercises tailor made to your specific condition. We want to have you back in your bed and snoring in no time!
Now that you know why sleep is so important, and you also know how to get the golden 8 hours, it’s time for you to put your screen away, listen to some music, and get some much needed rest. Sweet dreams!