Improving Your Sleep
Everybody knows what it feels like to be tired when you haven’t had a good night's sleep. But, have you noticed how your pain levels are? Sleep affects pain, and the research shows the less you sleep, the more intense your pain will be. So when you sleep poorly, your pain will be worse the next day.
So how are sleep and pain related? Good sleep puts your body in “rest mode” so that you can have the energy to think, move and act the next day. When you aren’t able to rest, your brain and body let you know by making us more irritable and sensitive to discomfort. In addition to that, sleep is a time for the body to heal, so when you miss out on sleep and healing time, you won’t be able to improve the intensity of our pain. You know what it’s like to have a night with poor sleep, so how do you know how much sleep you should be getting exactly?
How much sleep do I really need?
If you asked the people in your life how much sleep they need every night to feel rested, you’ll get many different answers. 6 hours? 8 hours? The average adult benefits from about 7-8 hours of sleep per night, but every person is different.
You can figure it out with one simple rule: If you feel drowsy during the day, then you haven't had enough sleep. Pay extra attention to things that are supposed to get you energized - an important meeting, moving boxes or furniture, picking up a child. Do you feel drowsy during these activities? Did you only get 5 hours of sleep the night before? 7 hours? You might benefit from going to bed earlier to get more sleep in. Let’s discuss ways to make sure you get as much sleep as you need.
Ways to Get Good Sleep
Sleep Routine: First thing in the morning, you get out of bed, go to the bathroom, get breakfast ready and run out the door, right? Your body likes to follow a routine. Setting regular bedtimes and wake times can help your body fall into a more natural sleeping routine. Schedule an eight hour block of sleep per night in order to maximize the time even if you haven’t built up to it yet.
Quiet time: Having trouble with a sleep routine? Try following a nightly 30-60 minutes of quiet time before your set bedtime. Choose two soothing activities that help put your mind into a relaxing mood. Ideas include taking a warm shower, the Hinge Health stretches or some calm breathing.
Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours prior to bedtime. There’s research showing that caffeine disrupts sleep even when consumed up to 6 hours before bed. If you do drink caffeine, set a cutoff point in your day and stick to it.
Avoid napping: Napping during the day also tells our body to sleep less at night, making it hard to fall asleep. Keep sleep to bedtime.
No Electronics: We have to look at computer and phones screens all day for work and life, then we might get home to unwind with some television. These devices are bright with unnatural light and teach your brain to stay awake when you’re in bed. They also make noise, turn off anything that makes sounds that interrupt your sleep. The bed is for sleep and intimacy with a partner, so keep those devices away.
Be comfortable: You’ve spent your whole day going from one place to another, so bedtime is your time to settle in and be comfortable! Set your bedroom temperature to a comfortable temperature, or use bedding to make your body feel good.
Assume the position: Get into a position that doesn’t cause you discomfort. This helps to cue the body to know that it’s time to rest.
A restful night’s sleep is one of the top priorities in overcoming persistent discomfort. It’s not possible to reap the benefits of your exercise therapy and aerobic activity until you are regularly having a full night’s sleep. Talk to your coach about setting up healthy goals and habits around sleep so we can better help you achieve a meaningful life without pain.