We tend to underestimate the importance of sleep, especially good sleep, where the body and mind are rested and we awake with a sense of well being and being refreshed.
One of the most important questions I ask my clients at the start of every treatment or training session is “How has your sleep been?”. This paints a picture into how the rest of the body is working and whether it is functioning optimally. Your quick response is likely to be “Yeah fine!”. I doubt it. Most of us do not sleep anywhere near enough. You may be in bed for the right amount of time (typical 8-9 hours), however the quality of sleep is just not there.
So, I normally take my clients’ response with a grain of salt and dig a little deeper. Soon enough, I discover a range of things that would be affecting your quality of sleep and hence be a negating factor into why your musculoskeletal problems won’t got away or your training outcomes have diminished.
How you feel and perform during the day is related to how much sleep you get the night before, it really is that simple. If sleepiness interferes with your daily activities, more sleep each night will improve the quality of your waking hours – obvious right? Yet none of us pay too much heed to this.
Insufficient sleep has been linked to the rise in many serious chronic illnesses including:
- cardiovascular disease,
- and depression.
This can also be said for musculoskeletal issues as well. Quality sleep is where our body does all its healing, rebuilding and repair. If you are someone suffering from stress, gastric upset, acute muscle spasm, muscle tear, bone fractures, fever, aches, DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness as a result from intense physical activity) and not sleeping well, there is no doubt in my mind that we are a long way from solving these problems.
How much sleep do you need?
- 16-18 hours
- 11-12 hours
- At least 10 hours
- 9-10 hours
Adults (including older adults)
- 7-8 hours
(These figures from the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/)
I would also suggest that teens and adults completing more than 7 hours a week of exercise, should add another hour of sleep per night. When looking for high level output and performance sleep is so important.
A study published last year in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics surveyed student athletes on specific behaviours, including sleep hours, hours spent practicing sport within the school or with private coaches and club teams, strength training, etc. The study then linked the results to 21 months of retrospective injury data. Of all the factors they looked at, sleep hours were the strongest predictor of injuries. It was a stronger indictor then over-training. The second-best predictor of injury was what year level they were in. The older they got, the more likely they were to be injured.
(Study found on Runners World website http://www.runnersworld.com/sweat-science/sleep-hours-and-injury-rates)
So, what are some key ways to increase our quality of sleep?
- Keep your bedroom cool, not cold and dark.
- Turn off screens (TV, IPAD, PHONES) 45 mins to an hour before bed.
- Organise all your clothes, bags, food etc. for the next day before you go to bed.
- Foam roll, spikey ball, meditate for 10 minutes before getting into bed to wind down
- Give yourself minimum an hour to digest your last meal before bed.
- Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Don’t exercise late at night. Get your workout done in the morning, lunchtime or have it done by 7pm.
- Keep pen and paper on your bed side table so if something is on your mind you can write it down.
A simple concept really, yet with the lives of many of us, it seems that sleep is the forgotten cure for a body and mind that needs time to repair.