In our Boulder and Lafayette Physical Therapy practices, in addition to the injured tissue(s), we examine the total health behaviors of the patient. Healthy behaviors such as a healthy diet, habitual exercise, and adequate sleep are important allies in the fight against pain, inflammation, and injury. Sleep researchers continue to study the effects of both adequate and inadequate sleep. Although total sleep needs can vary significantly by individual most researchers believe individuals need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
As we sleep our body and brain goes through a significant metabolic process designed to balance out the activities and stresses (both positive and negative) of our day. Researchers have identified critical processes involved in tissue healing and inflammation, pain modulation, as well as, physical, emotional, and mental health. Individuals who sleep 6 or less hours are at significantly greater physical and mental health risks, including dementia, compared to their peers who reach 7 hours of sleep. Despite its’ importance, approximately 1/3 of adults do not meet this 7 hour benchmark.
Common patient statements reflecting inadequate sleep include not feeling rested upon awakening, waking up only with an alarm clock, and reporting sleepiness interferes with daily activities. Researchers have offered strategies to improve sleep hygiene to help facilitate the optimal health benefits of a good night’s rest (Siengsukon et al. Physical Therapy. 2017). An acute bout of exercise in untrained populations, as well as, consistent exercise training have been shown to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. In addition, authors recommend going to sleep and awakening at the same time each day to establish proper circadian rhythms. Finally, abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, and vigorous exercise before bedtime can also improve the quantity and quality of sleep.