If you’re dealing with an injury getting a little more sleep than normal is key. In our modern world we all like to burn the candle at both ends, and early wake ups coupled with late nights are the standard. While we can all generally survive on a little less sleep than is optimal, when you're healing sleep should become a priority - it’s important to give your body the time it needs to heal properly. In addition to getting enough sleep, there are other things you can do to speed up the healing process and prevent future injuries. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and avoid smoking. Exercise can also help to improve recovery time and reduce the risk of future injuries.
Recommendations for hours of sleep for adults generally sit around 7-9 hours per night, but this will vary between individuals. To know how many hours of sleep are ideal for you, you should be aiming to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day (rather than groggy and slow). While healing, aim for a little more sleep than is usual for you. This is called "sleep banking" and has been shown to have incredible impacts on athletes as well as the general population.
So why is sleep important for healing? Growth hormone which is needed for tissue regeneration and repair, is only secreted while we sleep. Sleeping also decreases our need for oxygen and lowers the amount of energy needed for digestion, which allows our body to devote that energy to building the proteins and transporting the free fatty acids needed for healing. Sleep also increases our tolerance to pain by up to 20% after just four nights of extended sleep(1). So not only do we heal faster, but we experience pain less intensely. The benefits truly cannot be understated!
Whether you’re recovering from an injury, or just wanting to look after your overall health, there are a few things you can do to make sure you’re getting optimal sleep by practicing good sleep hygiene:
Do you have any questions about sleep and health? Leave a comment below and let us know! Or get in touch with our team of Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists to find out how you can maximise your healing even more. We're always happy to help answer any questions you may have. And be sure to check back soon for more blog posts on exercise and health! Until then, happy sleeping!