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Healthy Sleep: Are You Getting Enough?

Sleep is an essential part of our overall health. A two year study conducted by the sleep foundation, found that the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 18-64, was between 7-9 hours per night, and older adults ages 65+ between 7-8 hours per night. When we are well rested our bodies move and feel better. However, when we are not well rested, our bodies tend to be more sluggish and pain symptoms are increased. For those suffering with acute or chronic pain, lack of sleep or non-restful sleep has been shown to increase symptoms. Sleep is what helps drive and maintain our bodies homeostasis and if that balanced state is compromised by pain, sleep can be disturbed. Disrupted sleep means our body is not able to reach homeostasis, which in turn, disrupts overall health. So how do you get a better nights sleep when you have chronic pain? Listed below are a few bed time tips to help us all get a better nights sleep.

1.Choosing the correct pillow: When choosing a pillow, the main thing to consider is getting your head and neck into a neutral alignment. Having your head and neck in a neutral positions prevents excessive pressure in different areas and can help you feel less pain.

2.Turn off nightly distractions: The national sleep foundation recommends turning off your TV and putting down your tablet or smart phone 30-60 minutes before bed. Studies show that using devices that emit blue light suppress the release of our bodies natural sleep aide, melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

3.Using a weighted blanket: Weighted blankets are a specially designed to provide a gentle pressure known as deep touch pressure (DTP). DTP is a tactile sensory input which can be obtained through firm holding, stroking, hugging or squeezing. This type of pressure has been shown to help release a neurotransmitter in our brain called serotonin. Serotonin helps to regulate sleep and calm the body. In addition to serotonin, the DTP of a weighted blanket has also been shown to release oxytocin which can help relieve pain and reduce stress, while also boosting your immune system.

4.Mindfulness Meditation: Meditation is another great tool to help improve our ability to get restful sleep. The deep relaxation of meditation has been shown to improve sleep time and quality, and makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some popular free smart phone mindfulness applications are : Calm, Headspace, Aura, Stop Breath &Think, and Insight Timer.

If you find that you are consistently having pain throughout your body while you are sleeping or when you wake, the issue may be larger than just adjusting sleep habits. Consider seeking professional help from a physical therapist or doctor to figure out the cause of your pain. Physical therapy is a great resource in managing multiple conditions throughout the body, including chronic pain. For more information on how Action Potential can help you, request an appointment today.

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