Do you have difficulty falling asleep – or maybe even staying asleep? Perhaps you wake up in the morning and find yourself not refreshed and not ready to face the day.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Many of our patients’ report that they struggle to get a good night of sleep.
But, here’s the thing – if you aren’t sleeping, you aren’t healing. Really! When you are sleeping is when your body has time and energy to deal with the injuries of the day. Your sleep time allows your body to restore the tissues back to where they are supposed to be so you are able to take on the physical (and mental!) challenges of the next day.
Even your brain needs that time for healing. There are little cells in your brain that I call “Brain Roombas”. These Roombas only come out while you are in REM sleep. They help to clean up the debris of the brain allowing you to think clearly the next day.
Have you ever woken up in the morning and felt like you were foggy headed? Well, you probably didn’t get enough REM sleep and your brain Roombas weren’t able to do their jobs. Which means you reach for caffeine or sugar to get you through the day. Which will most likely disrupt your sleep the next night. And the cycle goes on and on.
This is the biggest struggle with sleep. If you don’t sleep then you are fatigued, stressed, and perhaps in pain which leads you to make decisions that improve things in the short term – but affect your sleep in the long term.
It truly is a vicious cycle. But, there is hope! Keep reading below and we will discuss what can lead to disrupted sleep. Our next blog post will focus ideas to help you improve the quality of your sleep. Implementing your favorite techniques can help improve the quality of your sleep, decrease your pain, and get you on the path to healing.
Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Many people who come to see us here at Physical Therapy for everyBODY suffer from these issues. With the world today it can be easy to feel this way. Also, when you are in pain, all of these symptoms can get much, much worse.
Many people who come to see us feel like they are never going to be able to get back to doing the things they love without pain. This leads to depression as they feel like they are going to miss out on the activities that make life worth living. If this is you, know that there is help. We have worked with hundreds of patients to not only eliminate their pain and restore normal sleep but we will help you get back to the activities you love doing.
Many people who come to work with us suffer from pain that makes sleeping difficult. You may be suffering with pain that makes it difficult to find a comfortable position. If this is you then make sure you read the next blog post as we offer our most popular tips to help improve sleep by helping to improve your sleeping posture.
Other people have pain that increases in the evening as they become more sedentary. If this is you then you probably have an inflammation issue. You are able to keep moving during the day which decreases your perception of the pain. But, once you stop moving all that inflammation sets in and can make sleeping very difficult.
Have you ever had a night cap thinking that it will help you get a better night sleep? Well, it is clear that drinking actually leads to decreased quality of sleep. If you want to improve your sleep, you are going to need to eliminate alcohol from your diet. Not forever but until your sleep pattern improves.
Alcohol leads to an unrefreshing sleep where you wake up feeling groggy and not able to face the day. Which usually leads to people thinking they need a night cap the next night. The truth is, if you really want to improve your sleep, you have to lay off the alcohol to get a good night sleep.
Did you know that the half-life of caffeine is 3-5 hours? This means that after 3-5 hours you still have half of the affects going through your body. So, if you drink coffee in the morning then your body has all day to break down the caffeine and use it.
However, if you drink caffeine later in the day, then you will still have the effects going through your body when it is time to go to bed. Or even while you are trying to sleep!
We recently had a patient call who woke up at 2 am with her heart racing and her blood pressure elevated. She was very concerned (of course!) and wondering if she should come in for her treatment session. We were able to trace the incident to a chai latte she had at 4 pm the day before. She was able to come in for treatment and she learned that she her body did not tolerate caffeine after noon.
So, if you think that drinking caffeine later in the day is not affecting you or your sleep, please remember that the half-life of caffeine is 3-5 hours. Do you really want those caffeine affects in your body while you are trying to go to sleep?
Most people know that eating sugar later in the day can keep them from sleeping well. Your body remains “fueled up” by the sugar until the eventual crash happens. If you really feel the need for some sugar in the evening make sure you are eating it right after dinner and as far away from bed time as possible.
However, you may not know that a full load of fat or protein right before bed send your digestive system into overdrive. This makes it difficult for your body to settle down into a quality sleep pattern. Your digestive system is busy churning away to process all that fat and protein which makes it difficult for the rest of the body to settle down.
I actually didn’t know this until I did my 21 Days of Fasting where I learned about this from personal experience. I work late and eat dinner even later! I had to change my eating pattern to improve the quality of my sleep. And, let me tell you, it really worked.
The truth of the matter is that all of these things lead to decreased quality of sleep. However, we usually use caffeine to help boost us up when we are feeling sluggish during the day. Many people use alcohol to help them sleep better. This can all lead to a vicious cycle of poor sleep that increases our pain, anxiety, stress, and depression.
Our next blog post if focused on “So, what can you do about it?”. This will include our top recommendations to improve your sleep which will improve your healing which will decrease your pain which will give you more energy.
If this post resonated with you and you are looking for someone who takes a holistic view to your pain (including talking about sleep!) then we encourage you to sign up for one of our Free Discovery Visits. During this visit, we will dive deep into all the issues that are contributing to your sleep dysfunction and give you some ideas to start improving your sleep, your healing, and decreasing your pain.