Want to sleep well every night? Read this
At some point in our life we will all suffer from poor sleep health. Research tells us that we should sleep on average for 7 hours per night as an adult and between 9-17 hours as a child/baby. A poor night sleep has a negative short term and long term effect on our health. We often feel helpless when going through a period of poor sleep but it is important to note that no matter how poor your sleep most people can resolve this following simple techniques.
On this page we will go through how sleep deprivation can effect your pain levels, performance at work, and general physical and mental health. We will also go through research based techniques to improve this.
Each time you move from quiet sleep to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep you complete a sleep cycle. For optimal health, you need a balance of the different types of sleep throughout the night. Adults need 7 hours sleep per night which equates to 4 full sleep cycles. Within the 7 hour period there is a critical 4 hour window. You may notice that you get your best sleep between 10pm and 2am. After this 4 hours you have neutalised the urge to sleep by repaying your sleep debt. That is why it can be so hard to get back to sleep if you wake at 2am - you no longer have the sleep debt!
WHAT TYPE OF POOR SLEEP ARE YOU?
Sleep issues fall into 2 main categories:
1. GETTING TO SLEEP
If you take more than 30 mins to get to sleep it could be due to:
Worry increasing the wake hormone cortisol.
Too much late night food increasing body temp.
Too little physical activity.
Too much bright light in the evening.
2. WAKING DURING THE NIGHT
The main causes of fragmented sleep are:
Ambient temperature being too cold.
Acid reflux from late night eating.
Sleeping with a pet.
Sleep and pain
• Pain disturbs sleep
The sleep-disturbing effects of pain are well known to most of us. Pain can make your sleep lighter, increase the number of times you wake up or prevent you from returning to sleep once awoken. Chronic back pain is known to be often associated with decreased sleep duration and quality. Over half of those with chronic back pain have clinically significant insomnia.
• Disturbed sleep increases pain
If your amount of sleep is less than your normal sleep needs your pain may increase. This is because inadequate sleep makes us more sensitive to unpleasant stimuli.
• Pain and sleep have some common mechanisms
Poor, fragmented sleep reduces the brain’s capacity to deal with the effects of unpleasant stimuli, such as pain.
In persistent pain conditions (longer than 3 months), nerve pathways within the brain are more sensitised. Thus, there is a heightened reaction to touch and pain, which can lead to unstable sleep which, in turn, worsens pain.
• Treating sleep problems helps manage pain
Longer sleep can decrease sensitivity to pain.
Treating a sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can lead to better pain control in people with musculoskeletal problems.
• Several large research studies suggest that sleep problems increase the risk of developing future chronic pain, and good sleep increases the chance that chronic pain will remit over time • Finnan, (2013).
Sleep Health Tips
SLEEP AND LIGHT
Early morning sunlight for 10-15 mins each day even if cloudy will start the timer for you to produce your sleep hormone melatonin at the right time from 7pm. This will make you feel sleepy around 10pm.
After 8pm limit the amount of light especially blue light from device screens. Even dim light can wake you. So if you don't have blackout curtains invest in a eye mask as this can have an excellent effect on sleep.
Find out more in our blog.
Daily exercise has been proven to help you fall asleep at night by increasing a muscle hormone that promotes sleep. We recommend at least a brisk 30 min walk per day.
Find out more in our blog.
EATING, DRINKING AND SLEEP
Make sure you are fully hydrated throughout the day and particularly in the evening before bed. Follow a simple caffeine rule of no caffeine after 2pm or earlier if possible.
Try to finish eating and drinking alcohol no later than 2 hours before bed as this can increase your core body temperature and reduce your ability to get to sleep.
ROOM TEMPERATURE AND SLEEP
Its a goof idea to reduce temperature to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens blood is flowing towards your skin which lowers your core body temperature. Some people fall asleep but wake up too hot. Experiment with blankets and if this fails it could be down to your mattress. Foam mattresses can reflect heat back into your body and warm you up.