By Dr Kristin Webb (Chiropractor)

 

Many key physiological functions occur during sleep which help to improve recovery & reduce the risk of injury.

    1. Muscle Repair and Growth: During sleep, the body releases growth hormone, essential for muscle repair and rebuilding.
    2. Inflammation Reduction: Sleep regulates the body’s inflammatory response, aiding healing and reducing muscle inflammation.
    3. Tissue Oxygenation: Sleep enhances blood flow to muscles, providing oxygen and nutrients for tissue repair.
    4. Pain Management: Adequate sleep helps manage pain perception and tolerance, crucial for healing sore muscles.
    5. Hormonal Balance: Sufficient sleep regulates hormones like cortisol, reducing muscle breakdown and promoting recovery.
    6. Improved Motor Function: Sleep enhances motor skill learning and coordination, lowering the risk of accidents during physical tasks.
    7. Mental Alertness: Quality sleep improves cognitive function and attention, reducing the risk of injuries during activities.

By prioritizing sleep, individuals can optimize recovery and minimize the likelihood of muscle injuries.

 

How can you improve your sleep? Many people struggle with winding down from their busy days making it even harder to switch off and transition into sleep.

 

Have you tried developing a wind-down routine to help you transition?

 

Here are 6 tips to help you build a wind-down routine for better sleep:

    1. Put Your Work Day to Bed Before You Go to Bed: Set aside time at the end of your workday to plan for the following day or week. Create a to-do list and jot down any thoughts or concerns related to work, so you can mentally put them to rest. Separating work-related thinking from bedtime allows your mind to unwind and prepare for sleep.
    1. Watch Your Diet: Pay attention to what you eat and drink in the evening as it can directly influence your sleep quality. Caffeine, a stimulant, can disrupt your ability to fall asleep, so consider reducing or eliminating consumption in the hours leading up to bedtime. Foods and drinks with high sugar content, like chocolate, can lead to more frequent awakenings during the night. Moderating alcohol intake is essential; while it may induce initial drowsiness, it disrupts sleep patterns and can lead to poorer sleep overall. Opting for lighter evening meals and avoiding late-night heavy snacking can aid digestion and contribute to a more restful sleep.
    1. Limit Screen Time: The blue light emitted by electronic devices, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, suppresses the production of sleep hormones like melatonin. Limiting screen time at least two hours before bedtime allows your body to naturally prepare for sleep. Replace screen-based activities with screen-free alternatives, such as reading a book, doing a puzzle, journaling, or stretching. These activities promote relaxation and reduce psychological arousal, facilitating a smoother transition to sleep.
    1. Incorporate Exercise: Regular exercise not only benefits physical and mental health but also aids in better sleep. Engaging in physical activity helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, making it easier to unwind before bedtime. While the ideal time for exercise is debated, even evening workouts can be beneficial, as long as you give yourself enough time to cool down and relax afterward. Exercise also helps build a sleep debt, making you feel tired when it’s time to sleep. Whether it’s walking, running, yoga, or any other form of exercise you enjoy, incorporating physical activity into your routine can improve sleep quality.
    1. Create a Sleep Sanctuary: Your bedroom environment plays a crucial role in promoting better sleep. Ensure your sleep space is quiet, dark, and comfortable to enhance the effectiveness of your wind-down routine. A tidy and organized bedroom can reduce stress and create a sense of calm. Consider investing in blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out light and optimize melatonin production. Maintain a comfortable temperature and invest in a quality mattress and pillows that support a restful sleep position.

 

References

  • Fritz C, Crain T. Recovery from work and employee sleep: Understanding the role of experiences and activities outside of work. In: Barling J, Barnes CM, Carleton EL, Wagner &. DT (eds). Work and sleep: Research insights for the workplace. Oxford University Press, 2016, pp 55–76.
  • Casper A, Sonnentag S. Feeling exhausted or vigorous in anticipation of high workload? The role of worry and planning during the evening. J Occup Organ Psychol 2020; 93: 215–242.
  • Irish LA, Kline CE, Gunn HE, Buysse DJ, Hall MH. The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep Med Rev 2015; 22: 23–36.