Everybody loves getting into bed after a long day and sinking into a long night of slumber. The bed truly is an underrated luxury!
Incredible as it seems, we spend up to a third of our days resting or sleeping, something we share with our ancestors. Previous generations’ bedtime was governed by the sun’s rising and setting.
However, digital gadgets, 24-hour TV, all-night entertainment, and other modern conveniences have blurred the boundaries between night and day. Subsequently, sleep has become less routine for many people.
Although you might think you don’t need much sleep and can function just fine with a few cat naps, that’s not necessarily the case. Indeed, you should not underestimate the importance of regular quality sleep. As Occupational Therapists, we regularly help people regain quality sleep patterns following an injury or accident.
However, many people play down the need for sleep, often to their health’s detriment. Therefore, this brief article aims to inform you of sleep’s role in promoting your body’s health and healing.
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The Role of Sleep in Health and Healing
As alluded to above, sleep is essential, yet modern society is the most sleep-deprived of all time. But don’t simply take our word for it; we’ve referenced all claims to expert research. Here are a few areas of health and healing where sleep plays a significant role:
1. Normalizing Your Body Changes
Sleep research shows that insufficient slumber can harm your health on the cellular, molecular, physiological, and psychological levels. It can also negatively impact your behaviour, according to Vyazovskiy in 2015.
One of the reasons for this is the role sleep plays in maintaining your body’s homeostasis. During the night, sleep helps normalize the changes in your body throughout the day.
2. Healing and Repair
Your body’s most vital functions and processes rely on maintaining a delicate biochemical balance, allowing your body to heal and repair. Sleep helps regulate these biochemical levels, helping to ensure that equilibrium is maintained.
You should consider regular and quality sleep as crucial as a healthy diet or regular exercise. Undoubtedly, this is the case concerning your ability to heal and repair from injury and illness or to promote muscle growth.
Research by Eve Van Cauter and colleagues (2007) showed that frequent poor-quality sleep could affect your hormone levels, throwing your biochemical levels off kilter. Later studies by Marie-Pierre St-Onge in 2013, found that poor sleep can also adversely affect brain function and exercise performance.
3. Support Your Immune System
It might be helpful to know just how important being well-rested is for fighting illness. When you sleep, your immune system is at its busiest, producing crucial cells that help your body repel viruses and harmful bacteria.
If your immune system is weakened, these unwanted guests could cause infections and delay your recovery from illness or worse. An erratic or regularly interrupted sleep pattern could prevent your body from entering a crucial sleep cycle, REM.
Rapid Eye Movement, or REM, is the sleep cycle when your dreams are most vivid. It is also vital for maintaining your body’s healing and repairing qualities. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleeping affects virtually every part of the body — this is why a healthy sleep is so important.
4. Health Management
According to studies by Rachel Leproult and Eve Van Cauter, good sleep patterns affect hormonal release and metabolism. Hormones that influence glucose regulation and appetite control are influenced by sleep. For example, sleep restriction may result in decreased insulin resistance.Quality sleep contributes indirectly to an overall healthier lifestyle.
The pressures of modern society have affected the way we live our lives. Frequently, people forgo sleep to keep up with social or work commitments. Therefore, many people go without something essential for a healthy lifestyle – good sleep.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the importance of quality sleep and how a good night’s sleep can promote good health and help your body heal.
Our next post will tell you about eight ways to get better sleep and promote healing, so see you then! In the meantime, contact your local Occupational Therapist to help you heal from injury and learn how you can get a better night’s sleep.