According to the CDC, more than a third of American adults are not getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
Sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, mental stress, obesity, and diabetes.
Sometimes, we just can’t get 7 hours, but what about those nights when racing thoughts, stress, or pain is the culprit?
Here are some tips to optimize your health and well-being, through better sleep.
Are You a Restless Sleeper?
Can’t fall or stay asleep? Consider working on you sleep hygiene, all day long! Start with daily stress management. Keep to do-lists or a journal, so that thoughts don’t race through your head at night. The brain is for creating ideas, not storing them. Commit to daily exercise. Attend a local yoga or meditation class. Check out apps like Headspace (10 minutes of guided meditation).
Starting in the afternoon, limit or avoid caffeine intake (effects last 4-6 hours). In the evening, avoid heavy meals and limit alcohol consumption (the sugars metabolize while you sleep, which may wake you up in the middle of the night).
At night, set aside wind-down time with a soothing activity of your choice. Read a book, take a warm bath/shower, or have a cup of tea. Limit blue light activities (computers, phones, TV) 1 hour prior to bed time. If you are still sleeping restlessly, consider an eye mask or white noise machine to reduce disturbances.
Is Pain Keeping You up at Night?
Your sleeping position may cause or exacerbate your pain. Waking up sore is a good indicator that you need to re-assess your position.
Your mattress can be the key player. You should flip and rotate your mattress annually. If it’s starting to sag, it may be time to get a new one.
Proper pillow size for your head and neck is important, and pillow support for your limbs can be very helpful too. A physical therapist can help you find an optimal sleeping position and any needed modifications, based on your body’s sensitivities.
If you’ve had a surgery, make sure to stick to your post-operative protocol, so that you are not moving too much or too little during the day. Both can make you overly sore, and potentially affect your sleep. Also, follow your protocol for sling/brace-wear while sleeping. Consult your PT about proper positioning specific to your procedure. Consider the timing of your pain medication, so that the effects don’t wear off in the middle of the night.
Gentle movement or walking, within your protocol parameters, can help ward of pain and stiffness in the middle of the night.
Are Your health issues affecting your sleep?
If you have unrelenting pain at night that is not associated with an injury, position or activities, make sure to check in with your doctor.
If you have severe snoring or suspect sleep apnea, you should also check in with your doctor. You may be a candidate for a sleep study. Weight loss may also be recommended.
Your Partner may appreciate that you do!
If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, you may experience insomnia. A mental health professional can help you!
At Four Pines PT, we can assess your pain and your mobility to help you sleep better. We can also help work your tight joints and muscles that may be contributing to pain while you sleep and then move you towards an exercise program which will help you return to better sleep!
To Happy Nights and That All of the Sheep have Jumped Over the Fence!
Four Pines Physical Therapy Team