SLEEP AND RECOVERY
Sleep is one of the undebatable pillars of health and wellness. When you are recovering from an injury you are likely to need even more rest than usual.
After surgery or injury your body uses more energy to fuel the healing process. Your immune system must work harder to fight infection whilst your body also facilitates the maintenance and repair of existing cells as well as the growth of new tissue, which results in an increased energy expenditure during recovery.
When we go to sleep, our body’s demand for calories is reduced, so we can replenish and heal.During sleep the pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which helps your body to grow and repair itself and your body also produces more white blood cells, that support the immune system.
Our autonomic nervous system also has a role in physical recovery, that involves our sympathetic nervous system (flight or fight mode) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and restore mode).Because of the increased energy needs during recovery, we want our body to be in the parasympathetic nervous system as much as possible. When we are awake it is normal for our sympathetic nervous system to activate at different moments throughout the day. Although historically, our body would use this in response to danger or threats, in modern life it can be initiated by feelings of stress such as being stuck in traffic when you’re late for a meeting, high intensity exercise and consuming too much caffeine. The sympathetic nervous system releases adrenaline and cortisol, which cause the heart to beat faster, respiration rate to increase, blood vessels in the arms and legs to dilate, the digestive process to change and glucose levels in the bloodstream to increase in anticipation of an emergency or threat. Because our energy expenditure is already increased while we are healing, it makes sense that we need to minimise these effects.
During sleep our body is using parasympathetic nervous system, which allows us to adapt, recover andreduce energy output. The parasympathetic nervous system releases thehormone acetylcholine to slow the heart and respiration rate. The more the parasympathetic system dominates during sleep, the more your body is able to recover and the more resources you have to aid your recovery and balance your daily stress response.
Sleep deprivation has a potentially deleterious effect on postoperative recovery, because your body isn’t spending enough time in it’s rest and restore mode and broken sleep can cause an increase in cortisol levels and imbalance essential hormones. There are also various medications that can inhibit and interrupt sleep, therefore it is essential to speak with your doctor or surgeon about the drug interactions that may disrupt your sleep. If you are in the hospital there may also be distractions and environmental cues that disturb your sleep patterns so it is useful to have a sleep routine and useful sleep tools to ensure you get the maximum amount of shut eye.
SLEEP HACKS FOR OPTIMAL RECOVERY
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