Sleep: The best medicine you’re not taking

by Tim Drevna, December 16, 2015

As a mother of a toddler, functioning on too few hours of sleep is all too familiar. Sadly, many of us seem to be falling into our 24/7 lives where work shifts are longer, stores are open later, and we have 24 hour access to the internet and emails.  Sleep deprivation can be linked to many health complications, both mentally and physically, and chronic lack of sleep has been connected with a shorter lifespan.  Lack of sleep has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute sleep is important for your immune system to stay healthy in order for your body to defend itself against foreign or harmful substances as well as fighting common infections. It seems people tend to believe a common myth that over time they adjust to lack of sleep without the negative effects. While every adult is slightly different it is still highly recommended that most adults get 7-8 hours of sleep per night, while teens need 9-10 hours.

Tips you may try to improve sleep habits include: keeping a consistent sleep schedule going to bed and waking at the same time daily, avoiding nicotine and alcohol, avoiding large meals prior to going to bed, spending time outside daily when possible and being physically active. Especially when it seems as there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish it all, you may need to make a conscious effort to get more sound sleep. If you find yourself battling sleeping disturbances and disorders it is important to speak with you primary care physician.

As physical therapists, we commonly ask our patients how well they are sleeping. While exercise and other treatment techniques are beneficial in the healing process from an injury or post operatively, relaxation and adequate sleep is just as important for muscle healing and recovery. When you get enough sleep your body functions better. We want to see you be the best you can be physically and mentally.

Sleep well and sweet dreams,

Mandy Zeamer, PTA


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