Has the situation in 2020 disturbed your usual sleeping cycle? It isn’t surprising that work, financial and social concerns will affect our quality of sleep. When we are operating on a reduced amount of sleep, we can often feel moody, upset and exhausted. Pain and injury levels are higher, and general wellbeing and morale are lower.
The importance of Sleep
Excel physiotherapist James Konstantakopoulos looks at the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, and what can go wrong if we miss our sleep.
Sleep’s effect on our body systems
- A reduction in sleep quality and quantity could result in an autonomic nervous system imbalance, simulating symptoms of the overtraining syndrome. Additionally, it increases the inflammatory response in the body promoting immune system dysfunction and producing injury.
- Sleep is a crucial ingredient for muscle gain, fat loss, brainpower and athletic performance.
- Reducing sleep from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours per night = 55% less fat lost – less sleep also leads to even less fat loss while dieting.
Sleep’s effect on our sporting performance
- Basketballers improved full-court shuttle run times by 0.7 seconds and tennis players improved serving accuracy by 14.3% within one week with 8 hours worth of sleep
- Basketballers who get an extra two hours of sleep a night boost their speed by 5% – and their accuracy by 9%
- Swimming tested the worst in sleep duration and quality in athletes measured via sleep logs and polysomnography (Sargent et al., 2014)
- Children who play youth soccer displayed lower sleep efficiency despite longer sleeping duration – please monitor your children’s load and manage their training to allow adequate rest and recovery
Sleep’s effect on our mental wellbeing
- Sleep deprivation worsens cognition and memory
- Lack of sleep reduces reaction time, decreases working memory and is associated with reduced mental health
- Restricted sleep of 4 hours per night is associated with an increased self-reported incidence of pain or multiple occurrences of pain
- Takeaway; preserve 7-8 hours of sleep per night through behavioural or pharmacological means to limit sensitivity and maximise tolerance to painful stimuli
So how can I sleep better?
- Maintain a routine. The body responds well to routine and remains in rhythm. When the body goes to sleep and wakes at specific times, it allows a cycle to maintain and be consistent throughout the week.
- Limit bright lights at night; these prevent your body from getting into REM sleep whereby the body still believes it is day time. Bright lights also limit the amount of melatonin in the body and contribute to dry eye syndrome.
- A basic shoulder/upper body strengthening routine, 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise and yoga 1-2 times per week. Fun Fact: those with insomnia who do yoga daily for 8 weeks are likely to fall asleep faster and increase the amount of time that they spend sleeping (sleepfoundation.org)
- Aim for 7-9 hours per night and maintain consistency
- Injuries and pain can prevent sleep and reduce healthy sleeping patterns. It is essential to address any current injuries and complete your rehab/preventative exercise programs to prevent future injury. Our physiotherapist’s can assist with this, book in to see us today.