Sleep is probably the easiest and most important aspect of recovery, whether this is from injury or after physical activity.
When you sleep there are a number of very important processes that occur in our body.
As we sleep our body uses this time to rest and repair damaged tissues such as muscle.
When we exercise muscle tissue is damaged on a microscopic or if we are injured macroscopic level.
When we sleep the body completely rests these tissues, at the same time releasing growth hormone, an important hormone in the growth and repair process of muscle and other tissues.
The hormones in the brain also undergo important changes as we sleep.
Adenosine levels decline during sleep and this has been shown to then increase alertness and reduce general feelings of fatigue the next day.
Motivation levels are highest when alertness is highest.
Hence, resting the brain at night with 8 hours sleep is vital for motivation and alertness the next day.
Memory consolidation is another really important function that occurs when we sleep.
This occurs in the non conscious area of the brain and if we are to retain what we have experienced and learnt, then getting adequate amounts of sleep each night is vital.
Tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
– going to bed and getting up at the same time each day
– avoiding caffeine and large meals within 3-4 hours of going to bed
– ensure that your sleep environment is comfortable
– avoid any screen time around bed time. Blue light can affect your ability to get off to sleep and the quality of your sleep.
Everyone has slightly different sleep needs but 8 hours sleep per night is generally the recommended amount to ensure that all of the important functions discussed above occur.
Tim Bass, myPhysioSA Principle Physiotherapist