Our bodies have built-in cycles of hormonal and immune-system functions occur. A regular sleep routine allows them to synchronise to release at times when they benefit one another. When a person doesn’t have a regular sleep-wake cycle, or if a person regularly has their sleep cut short (especially when they first fall asleep) their nervous and immune systems are negatively affected. Poor sleep interrupts the time that the body makes ‘fighter’ cells, the cells that repair tissues, and it can actually cause provoke chronic low-grade inflammation.
Irregular and disturbed sleep is linked to weight gain issues.
If you aren’t sleeping well you are at risk of gaining weight and resistance to being able to regulate your weight.
- Those who don’t get enough good quality sleep tend to eventually weigh significantly more than those who get adequate sleep.
- The effect of sleep on weight gain is believed to be because hormones are released according to certain cycles and stimulation, in order to regulate our metabolism.
- If you aren’t getting enough good sleep, you won’t feel you have the energy to exercise. This causes a vicious cycle because getting regular exercise helps you to sleep better, think better, and permits good heart, blood flow, lymph flow, good lung health, strong muscles and bones, and nutrition and waste removal for joints.
Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.
Your ability to think clearly, solve problems, recognise patterns, and be productive mentally (and physically via reflexes) is impacted by the quality of sleep you’ve had.
- Various aspects of brain function are affected by our sleep patterns.
- People who take the opportunity to nap may be interested to know that, although some naps are beneficial, others longer naps can actually impair clear-thinking, and make a person more gullible, to the same degree as being drunk on alcohol.
- Naps can also cause problems getting into a helpful sleep-wake cycle.
Oversleeping may be a clue to an underlying health issue.
The amount of sleep needed by healthy adults varies between 7 to 9 hours per day. If a person regularly requires longer than 8 or 9 hours of sleep to feel rested, it is strongly considered worth checking if there is an underlying problem. Some of the possibilities immediately considered that could reduce the quality of sleep, and make someone tired even after 8-9 hours asleep are:
- chronic pain
- certain medications
- alcohol use
- caffeine use
- dietary practices
- teeth-grinding during sleep (bruxism)
- sleep apnoea
Sleep and the mind-body connection.
Our mental health is strongly linked to how well we sleep, and how long we sleep. They are reciprocally interrelated.
- your mental state can affect your sleep cycle (eg insomnia, broken sleep, too long or too short duration sleep)
- conversely, sleep disorders can lead to mental health issues
- some people resist sleeping due to old thought habits that they feel can’t be broken and then get anxious because when they ‘try’ to sleep, so they entrench the problem
How your osteopath can help you have a better sleep.
- identify the factors detracting from your ability to get to sleep, or stay asleep
- introducing practices that encourage your body’s natural drive to sleep – including being able to some physical exercise, and suggestions regarding your sleeping conditions
- provide treatment for painful conditions, including, but not limited to, neck, shoulder, hip, and back pain
- treatment and strategies regarding physical and mental restlessness
- recognise when you need referral to, or co-management with, other health professionals due to issues such as teeth-grinding, mental-health support, dietary practice and medical conditions
- provide practical advice to reduce causes of discomfort – eg ergonomic factors such as pillow advice, mattress advice, and other sleep position aids.