Sleep to Heal
You probably already know that if you don’t sleep well you are likely to wake up grumpy, irritable, or a little on edge. Did you know that not sleeping well can also affect how your injury is healing, or even set you up for an injury in the first place?
As we discussed in our recent blog, lack of sleep can be a hidden factor for your nagging injury taking longer than you would like to get better. Sleep is when your body recovers from the day's workout, and your mind recovers from the day's stress. Without enough sleep, you are never fully recovering, and small problems become bigger problems.
For most adults, 7-9 hours of sleep is typically recommended but can vary for everyone. A better way to track your needs is to determine how you feel when you wake up. Do you feel refreshed or are you always feeling like you need to get just one more hour? Are you getting enough? If not, the good news is there are a few ways to improve your sleep and get your healing back on track!
Go to Bed at the Same Time
Your body has an internal clock that tells you when it’s time to go to sleep and when to wake up. If you go to bed at different times or wake up at different times, that internal clock gets confused and isn’t able to tell you when you actually need to go to bed or when to wake up. Remember that feeling on Daylight Savings? That’s how your internal clock feels if you don’t have a set schedule to go to sleep.
Regular exercise can help to regulate your sleep patterns. Even light exercise can be beneficial. It’s easy to think “I’m too exhausted to exercise”, but starting a light, daily exercise routine can actually help you sleep better and give you more energy. If you're introducing a new workout routine, start slowly and slowly increase your time spent exercising until you feel you're at a comfortable level.
Put the Electronics Away
At this point, you had to have heard that light from your phone or your tablet is impacting your sleep. It’s such a common tip because it’s such a common mistake. Looking at your phone or your tablet before bed disrupts your natural sleep rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep. Try to get into the habit of putting your electronics away one hour before bed.
Get Into a Routine
Whether it’s meditation, reading (not on a tablet!), talking with your spouse or kids, or any other relaxing activity, try to get into a nightly routine. This helps you to wind down from the stress of a day and can prepare your mind to fall asleep. Even better if you practice the same routine daily before it’s time for bed. This tells your brain that it’s time for sleep and can help you fall asleep faster.