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How Important is sleep?

We all love that feeling after a long day of getting into bed and relaxing, but how important is it and are we getting enough? Sleep is one of the ways that your body recovers from damage and protects itself against illness. It can revive most areas of the body such as brain health, skeletal health, skin health, and heart health.

When your body relaxes and enters sleep the brain can send signals that release large amounts of growth hormones. As you fall into the deeper stages of sleep, your muscles will see an increase in blood flow, which brings along oxygen and nutrients that help recover and repair muscles and regenerate cells. Hormones such as testosterone and HGH (Human Growth Hormone) are released and are responsible for building new proteins to replace damaged ones within muscle, tendon, bones, and ligaments. During sleep hormone levels are at their highest and this is why they help to recover. Not getting enough sleep can be a hindrance to recovery and this is because a single night of sleep deprivation can lower testosterone levels and slow the repair process down. The repair will be even less if there are repeated days with insufficient sleep. For the body to heal in the quickest possible way consistent and regular sleep is required.

Levels of stress can also affect recovery from injury, Cortisol breaks down body tissues for energy including proteins, and can slow down the recovery process. When we are stressed the body releases cortisol so high levels of this hormone are not good for injury recovery. Sleep can help to relieve levels of stress meaning less cortisol is released. Sleep has been known to provide other benefits such as reducing the risk for developing a chronic injury along with healing an acute injury. Research has shown that healthy sleeping habits were only half as likely to miss more than 3 months of work, compared to those with disturbed sleep.

Other aspects that can help to prevent possible long-term injuries such as improved alertness, reducing the chance for accidents, or lapses in judgment. An increase in strength due to muscle growth during sleep can lower the risk of a muscle tear or strain. Increasing Learning of Motor Skills – Improving movement efficiency and coordination when training these skills with rehabilitative exercises.

There are signs that will show that you are not getting enough sleep. The lack of ability to think quickly, some memory loss, poor decision making, and a reduced attention span. It may be that these are noticed by yourself until suggested by someone else. Feeling tired or lack of concentration may be signs that you pick up on yourself but the other symptoms are more likely to be noticed by others and you may not realise until someone else make you think of them. There are tips and ways to ensure we do get enough sleep and these symptoms are less likely to appear. It is important to try and develop a routine with your sleep, going to bed at a similar time each night is going to help your sleep pattern improve.

There should be a limit on caffeine in the afternoon and evening, caffeine can stay in the system for so long that even having coffee/caffeine in the mid-afternoon can disrupt your sleep even 8 hours after consuming it. Sleep should be made a priority within your daily schedule and should not be skipped to make time for social life, work, or even exercise. Other tips include shorter nap times (if you do nap), limiting snacking or junk foods before bedtime, and for those that do have a tv in the bedroom, try removing it to see if your quality of sleep improves. Getting a good, regular night's sleep has so many benefits to your overall health and your body’s recovery and should use almost like we do exercise to keep fit and healthy.

Written by Steven- Movement Therapist PB Movement

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