Is your sleep making you more prone to injury or illness?

Are you getting enough quality sleep at night? If you answered no, then did you know that your lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to injury and illness?

Studies have shown that even a low level of fatigue can impair reaction times as much or more than being legally drunk! I mean, we don’t really need research to confirm that we have an increased risk of injury when we are drunk… But sleep, well we all think that we can survive on less. Sorry to tell you but the jury is out on that!

Reaction time, cognitive skills, fine motor skills, motivation, focus, proprioception, etc.. are all optimal when the body is given the proper amount of sleep and down time. Without the adequate amount of sleep these suffer greatly.

There have been countless studies to show the correlation of sleep deprivation and risk of injury. One recent study showed Adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly sleep less. While another study showed that those who slept less than 8 hours had nearly double the risk of injury!

The research suggests that 8-10 hours of sleep per night will improve athletes performance, decrease injury risk and improve recovery healing times if they do sustain an injury. If you disagree then you might be apart of the 3% of the population that can effectively sleep on 6 hours of sleep and research has found this is due to a rare gene mutation called ADBR1 which is linked with heightened wakefulness and less sleep necessity.

OR maybe your body has just adapted, and you can’t remember what it feels like to be fully rested.

In fact, the research tells us that those who sleep under 6 hours will have chronic sleep deprivation. This includes constant yawning, morning grogginess, poor concentration, mood changes, shortened attention span, reduced work efficiency etc. Chronic sleepless nights are further associated with cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, metabolic problems and weakened immune system, not to mention all the cognitive and brain fog effects.

We understand that sometimes we can’t change the amount of sleep we get, but we may be able to change the quality of sleep by following some of these simple rules:

  • Darkness: When it’s dark we release melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps us to drift off. TV’s, Computers and Smartphones with LED displays glow with blue light which suppress melatonin. Try using apps with turn off the blue light and make a yellow screen.
  • Wear an eye-mask and earplugs.
  • Make sure the room is cool research says around 18 degrees.
  • Avoid screen time in bed and turn all electronics on silent (minus the alarm) to avoid undisturbed sleep.
  • Allow time to relax, hit bed earlier and read a book, write in a journal, cuddle a partner. Have one hand on your chest, one on your belly and practice your belly breathing. We are constantly on the go, this is your time to settle the mind.
  • Create a routine our body works on a circadian rhythm and like anything likes routine. If you can try and set up a routine for bed, no electronics, to wind down time to sleep time.

If you are still struggling with sleep then it may be worth getting checked with a health professional to ensure that there are no neurological or musculoskeletal causes.