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Sleep and recovery: Five ways that sleep mends your body

Sleep and recovery: Five ways that sleep mends your body

Sleep is a free and powerful tool that only nature can provide! Although we sleep around a third of our lives, we put little faith into the miraculous benefits of sleep.

If you have recently had a sporting injury, or sprain, then sleep could be just the tonic you have been searching for…and best of all…you do it anyway and it’s free!  This post will explain five fantastic benefits of sleep and why you should start taking your sleep more seriously.

  1. Adequate sleep regulates inflammation

The hormone prolactin, which helps regulate inflammation in the body is secreted while you are sleeping. This means that if you don’t get adequate sleep then you my be more likely to experience inflammation in the body. This lengthens the recovery time after an injury and may also put you at risk of further injuries.

  1. Adequate sleep regulates growth hormones

Hormones also play a role in sleep too. When your body enters into a deep state of sleep where you aren’t dreaming, (also known as the non REM phase of sleeping), your pituitary gland secretes growth hormones which stimulate muscle repair and growth. Likewise, if you don’t actually get enough deep sleep, then the amount of growth hormone in your body is depleted, thus you will take longer to recovery after an injury.

  1. Adequate sleep regulates blood flow

During the non-REM deep stage of sleep, your body heals itself by increasing blood flow to your muscles and tissues. Increased blood flow in the body means more beneficial nutrients and oxygen to aid recovery of injured muscles and to repair and regenerate cells.

Sleep is particularly great for healing blood vessels and the cardiovascular system including the heart. Conversely, without enough sleep, over sustained periods of time, you increase your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

  1. Adequate sleep helps you to learn and retain information

Research from Harvard has found that getting enough sleep helps to improve brain function and aids your memory and decision-making abilities. So you should give credence to the idea of sleeping on a complex problem and then making a decision on it the following morning. While you sleep, your clever brain will be highly likely to formulate a remarkable solution to a problem, which was troubling and confusing you the night before!  

  1. Adequate sleep helps you to regulate how hungry you feel

When you get enough sleep, the hormones that regulate how hungry or full you feel (ghrelin and leptin respectively) are in balance.

Ever notice how, when you’re extremely tired you also feel like eating a lot? That’s no coincidence! It’s because your body’s hunger hormone ghrelin has gone up and your leptin has gone down, making you hungry and craving unhealthy food. Sleep also regulates the body’s insulin levels which control blood sugar levels. Thus, a  lack of adequate sleep over time can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity.

So what is ‘adequate sleep’ anyway?

Well it depends on how old you are, or if you have recently had an injury.

Babies, children and teens have a lot of growing to do. So they therefore need a lot of time for sleep. Adults need less sleep because they are fully grown, so their bodies are simply in maintenance mode. In general, if someone has a serious injury, they will need more sleep to recover from it than a non-injured person.

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years):  11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17):  8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-65): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (66+): 7-8 hours

Source: The Sleep Foundation

How to get a good night’s sleep

In the sensory-overload of the modern world, it has become increasingly difficult to shut off our minds and bodies each night, in order to let our natural healing mechanism of sleep to gently kick in. Here are some things you can try. These activities when done together will help to stimulate melatonin in the brain – the sleep triggering hormone.

  • Stick to a sleep schedule, even on the weekend.
  • Try watching the sunset each night
  • Exercise each day
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm
  • Ensure that your bedroom is the right temperature, and doesn’t have too much sound or light intruding into it.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Avoid the alcoholic ‘nightcap’ before bed, it will actually wake you up once it wears off.
  • Avoid having a late dinner or snacks before bed.
  • Use the blue light filter on your phone and laptop. Blue light affects your wakefulness.
  • Don’t fall asleep in front of the TV – the ambient sound and light will affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Go electronics free at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Keep your bed for sleeping and enjoying time with your spouse, don’t use it as a home office.  

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy strongly recommend sleep for the accelerated recovery from muscle strains, damaged tendons and injuries.  Make sleep your friend and your body will heal itself quicker and get back into fighting fit form. Maroubra Road Physio offer a holistic approach to physiotherapy that examines and treats the whole person and their lifestyle, visit the caring and friendly team by booking an appointment or give us a call on 02 9314 3888.


Do You Work in An Office? Here are Six Top Tips Every Office Worker Should Know! | Blog | Maroubra Road Physiotherapy

How do I change the bad posture I’ve developed in my office job?

Modern life poses a lot of challenges on our bodies every day. Mobile phones, tablets and laptops demand our attention. The blue light from devices changes your circadian rhythms making your mind and body feel awake and it can lead to headaches and pain.

Also, peering into your computer screen or mobile phone causes you to change your neck and back posture. Our reliance on technology extends beyond the end of a working day and into every aspect of our lives. This impacts how our bodies work in a fundamental way.

Bad posture isn’t only going to impact how you look. Bad posture, left untreated can have a serious impact on your back, neck, and shoulder injuries. According to many studies, poor slumping posture while sitting and standing also affects your breathing, causes headaches and even impacts how you feel emotionally.  

Although there is no magic pill solution for a life-time of bad posture from working in an office, using stretching techniques on an ongoing basis yields many health benefits. Here are some tips to help manage bad posture in the workplace.

1. Get help with your workstation set-up

Maroubra Road Physiotherapy will be able to help you understand problems with your workstation set up. Our physiotherapists will point out possible flaws in your workstation setup and postural alignment when performing certain tasks, such as typing and sitting at a desk for long periods of time. Our physiotherapists will be able to advise you on postural awareness; appropriate pause exercises; and strength and endurance exercises. This will enable you to cope better with the demands placed on your body; and help you return to work as soon as possible. Over time these changes to your workstation will become more noticeable in your body and help with problems in your sitting posture.


2. Do regular yoga or pilates

Recent research into the effects of yoga and pilates on chronic neck pain, found that both forms of exercise had a positive impact on the pain scores and muscle functionality for study participants. Additionally, pilates increased the strength and size of the semispinalis capitis muscle in the neck.

Yoga and pilates have become a secret weapon for many people who suffer from chronic pain and if you are wanting to help yourself, you should give it a try, after all you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


3. Alternate standing and sitting at work

Ask your workplace about a stand-up desk, which means you can work standing up. Alternating between sitting, standing and moving periodically throughout the day in 30 minutes blocks will help with your posture, muscle fatigue and your experience of  pain or discomfort. For more information if it is better to stand or sit at work, here is our blog


4.  Use an exercise ball along with your normal office chair

Even if you happen to have a beautiful and comfortable work chair, it’s always a great idea to mix it up a bit. Moving is key.  You can try using an exercise ball as a second seat for short periods of no more than 30 minutes and rotate between your normal chair and the exercise ball over the course of the day. It is possible to slouch on the ball so you still need to remember good posture.  It does make you work a bit harder, encouraging your body to use core muscles even while you’re simply working at your desk. Using a ball is not appropriate for everyone, so it is advisable to discuss this option with your physiotherapist.


5. Stretching and pause exercises throughout the day


Stretching your body and simple pause exercises throughout the day will help to improve and maintain your posture. The form that these exercises take will depend on your own preferences and health at the time. These exercises are not time-consuming and can be performed while working or on the phone. In the below video you will find some great desk-based pause exercises that help with posture and chronic pain.

Some people take the opportunity to walk or jog at lunch time if the weather is nice. Or even go to the gym.

6. See a physiotherapist

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy are well equipped to treat work-related conditions. They use a combination of manual therapy, soft tissue release techniques, education and exercise based rehabilitation.

The team at Maroubra Road Physiotherapy take a holistic approach to physiotherapy that looks at the whole person, their lifestyle and overall health. Our friendly physiotherapists are experienced at resolving chronic pain challenges for clients. Empower yourself and change the way your body feels with Maroubra Road Physiotherapy, book an appointment on (02) 9314 3888.