A missed night of sleep is a fairly common experience for young people, new parents, and many busy adults. And while sometimes it’s because you’re having a fun and eventful night out, other times it’s because you must (new mums). Eitherway, a sleepless night deprives your body of an essential component for good health and energy and makes normal functionality difficult.
Most adults do best with between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, when we get less the result is a slow accumulation of sleep debt that can affect your appearance, your immune system, and even the way your brain functions.
Some of the ways a sleepless night affects your health includes:
- Dark Circles – Puffy eyes and a pasty complexion aren’t what you want to see when you wake up in the morning, but your appearance can be affected when you get too little sleep. Missing a night’s sleep can cause fluid to accumulate below your eyes, leading to circles and swelling.
- Hunger Pangs – Lack of sleep changes the way your body interprets hunger signals, leaving you with cravings that can be hard to control. In fact, women who sleep five hours or less a night are 15 percent more likely to become obese during the next decade.
- Feeling Unfocused – Missing a night of sleep increases the likelihood that you will feel forgetful or experience slow reaction times, which can result in small mistakes (typos on a work presentation) or very big ones (impaired driving).
- Common Cold – An itchy, drippy nose is another potential side effect of a missed night of sleep. Your immune system may also be affected, leaving you more susceptible to colds.
- Serious Illnesses – A single night without sleep isn’t usually a big deal, but over time, these occasional lapses can lead to more serious conditions. Longer term, too little sleep may contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and stroke.
- Lack of Energy – During high-quality sleep, your body restores many functions it calls on during daily life, such as temperature regulation, a strong immune system, steady hormone levels, and good appetite. All of these factors play a role in how much energy you have. To operate at your peak potential, you need to maintain these functions through quality sleep.
Pain and Sleep
When pain is first experienced, most people do not experience sleeplessness. However, when pain becomes a problem, it can be a vicious cycle. If someone experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, he or she is likely to experience more problems the next night and so on. It gets worse and worse every night.
Also we know that pain triggers poor sleep. For instance, someone experiencing lower back pain may experience several intense microarousals (a change in the sleep state to a lighter stage of sleep) per each hour of sleep, which lead to awakenings. However, microarousals are innocuous for a person not experiencing chronic pain. Pain is a serious intrusion to sleep. Pain is frequently associated with insomnia and these coexisting problems can be difficult to treat. One problem can exacerbate the other.
What Can People Do At Home?
Practicing good sleep hygiene is key to achieving a good night’s sleep. Some tips for people with chronic pain are:
- Stop or limit caffeine consumption.
- Limit alcohol intake, particularly in the evening.
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep abdominal breathing.
- See a medical professional.
- Use of painkillers and/or sleeping pills can be effective, but should be used under the supervision of a physician.
It is time to find a sleep professional when pain causes sleep problems and you are unable to fall asleep again. There are a variety of treatments available to ease the sleep problems of chronic pain sufferers, including medication and physical therapy.
Feeling good about the sleep you got at night sets you up for other positive emotions throughout the day. Sleep satisfaction can lead to feelings of greater energy, whereas depression is often linked with feelings of fatigue. So, while sleep satisfaction is a subjective assessment, the outcome of how satisfied you feel could have measurable ramifications on your wellbeing.
If you find yourself feeling less than satisfied with your sleep, there are measures you can take to improve your sleep experience including:
- Fresh bedding
- Low noise levels
- Cool temperatures in your bedroom
- Therapeutic Pillow
All of these can contribute to a more satisfying sleep experience. By taking steps to increase your sleep satisfaction, you can wake up feeling refreshed with consistently high energy levels throughout the day.
Exercises for Better Sleep
Working out regularly has so many positive health benefits. It can reduce stress, boost alertness during the day, and even improve your sleep quality. There’s no one perfect exercise that will enhance your sleep—any type of movement is better than none—but these specific activities are a good starting point to help you get a better nights sleep.
- Aerobic (or Cardio) Exercise – Activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming, have been shown to improve sleep and battle insomnia. Even small bouts, such as 10 minutes, may help, though the goal is to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise each week.
- Strength Training – Building muscle has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, and it can also help you fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. So try doing exercises like shoulder presses, bicep curls, tricep dips, squats, lunges, calf raises, sit-ups, and push-ups that will make you stronger.
- Pilates – Pilates is a great option to tackle sleep issues, as firstly it is low impact and can be done according to whichever level you wish to move at. Joseph Pilates also created a lot of his exercises from hospital beds (in fact, this is how the reformer was created) so are great to do when awake or releasing tensions from the day when going to bed. Pilates also helps reduce psychological tension, anxiety, depression, muscle spasm, neck and back pain and high blood pressure which can all contribute to bad sleep.
- Yoga – Yoga’s relaxing poses and stretches, as well as the calming breathing exercises that accompany them, may be especially helpful if stress is what’s keeping you from falling asleep. Those with insomnia who do yoga daily for eight weeks are likely to fall asleep faster and increase the amount of time that they spend sleeping.
Massage Can Help
Amongst other health benefits, massage helps to improve sleep as it promotes relaxation and can be beneficial in helping those who can’t otherwise comfortably rest. If you’re kept up at night worrying or find it hard to relax at night a massage may be the key to sounder sleep.
Regular massage sessions have also been found to decrease depression and anxiety levels which all help to improve sleep quality, perhaps because they trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can help you feel calm.
Not only can a massage bring stress levels down, but it may also help ease pain. Studies have shown that people with low back pain who had 30-minute massage sessions twice a week for five weeks reported a decrease in pain and fewer sleep disturbances. This may be due to the fact that massage encourages more time spent in the deep, restorative stages of sleep, where your body hardly moves.
View the range of Massage Services available at Sandgate Physio.
Find a Good Pillow
The wrong pillow may worsen headaches, neck and back pain, shoulder and arm numbness, and cause sneezing and allergies which can have a significant impact on the quality and length of your sleep. This can lead to chronic tiredness and other health problems.
Therefore, choosing the right pillow is very important in achieving a good night’s rest. A good pillow will support the skull, neck and upper back without applying undue pressure, as it conforms to the exact shape of the sleeper, thus spreading the weight evenly and uniformly along the vertebrae.
If you are looking for a good quality pillow that provides you with the level of support and comfort that helps support your body to a good night’s sleep, at SPHC, we stock the ‘Dream on Me’ pillows by Jaspa Herington. You can visit us in the clinic or contact us to find out more.
Do you experience health issues relating to or causing sleep issues? Give the clinic a call on 3869 1099 or contact us online to make an appointment.