14 Aug Getting Proper Sleep for Health and Rehabilitation
At a time when people are getting less and less sleep at night, it has become increasingly apparent just how important restful sleep is for health and rehabilitation. People with physical injuries and disabilities are especially susceptible to sleep disturbances. Those who aren’t getting proper sleep are then prone to developing health problems that can interfere with their quality of life, such as depression and anxiety, fatigue, and irritability. It’s a vicious cycle, but fortunately, it’s one you can break.
The Prevalence of Sleep Problems Among Adults with Disabilities
According to the Healthy Aging and Physical Disability Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at the University of Washington, 40 percent of people with disabilities report consistent difficulty sleeping. This means sleep problems are nearly three times more common among this demographic than the general adult population.
Types of Sleep Problems
Sleep may seem like a simple process, but it actually requires multiple parts of the brain to work together correctly. Disabilities can often make the brain behave erratically, resulting in one or more sleep problems, such as:
- Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Extreme drowsiness during the day, making it difficult to concentrate or be productive
- Delayed sleep phase syndrome, which is when sleep patterns become mixed up
- Narcolepsy, or falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably during the day
- Restless leg syndrome, or the urge to move the legs because they feel uncomfortable
- Bruxism, or clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth while sleeping
- Sleep apnea, or pauses in breathing that reduce the oxygen supply to the brain while asleep
- Periodic limb movement disorder, or the involuntary movement of the arms and legs during sleep
- Sleepwalking with no memory of doing so
- Post-traumatic hypersomnia, or sleeping for many more hours than normal
Causes of Sleep Problems
The conditions outlined above may develop for many reasons. Chemical changes in the brains of people with certain disabilities are a significant factor. Brain injuries or ongoing lesions in the nervous system may also affect the mechanisms for falling asleep, breathing during sleep, or waking up.
In addition to these factors that specifically affect adults with disabilities, there are many causes of sleep problems that also affect the general public. These include:
- Physical inactivity: Exercise is known to help promote sleep, as long as you work out early enough in the day. If you are inactive, you are also prone to weight gain, which is a leading cause of sleep apnea.
- Napping: When you’re tired during the day, you may be tempted to take a nap. However, just as snacking can ruin your appetite for dinner, napping can make it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Pain: Acute or chronic injuries can make it challenging to find a comfortable position. If you can’t get comfortable, it’s almost impossible to fall asleep.
- Anxiety and depression: Feeling worried as you try to wind down for bed can cause insomnia. Depression may also make you wake up early and keep you from falling back asleep.
- Alcohol consumption: While drinking a nightcap is meant to induce sleep, alcohol interferes with getting a good night’s rest rather than improving it. As a result, people who drink before bed are more likely to wake up in the middle of the night and fail to feel rested in the morning.
- Caffeine: This stimulant can prevent your body from unwinding at night if consumed too late in the day. Caffeine is found not just in coffee but in many soft drinks as well.
- Nicotine: This ingredient in tobacco products causes sleep disturbances, yet it’s often overlooked as a deterrent to getting proper sleep.
- Medications: Drugs taken to treat pain, anxiety, depression, or other conditions can affect your ability to sleep restfully. Some also increase daytime drowsiness, making it hard to participate in activities.
Tips for Getting Proper Sleep
You may assume the answer to your sleeping difficulties is to take medication designed to help you sleep. However, drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Librium, and Ativan can be highly addictive and interfere with your body’s ability to achieve restful sleep on its own. If you’re taking powerful sedatives to help you sleep, talk to your doctor about tapering off of them.
Instead of resorting to medication, try these tips to help you with getting proper sleep:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
- Fill your day with meaningful activities, including spending time outside.
- Exercise daily (just not within two hours of going to sleep). If you have a disability, talk to your doctor about workouts that might be right for you.
- Avoid napping for more than 20 minutes each day.
- Create a bedtime routine that helps you unwind, such as turning down the lights, playing relaxing music, taking a bath, or reading a book. Avoid falling asleep in front of the TV.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine starting five hours before bedtime.
- Don’t go to bed hungry, but avoid eating immediately before going to sleep.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing or boring until your eyes get heavy.
Seek Health Services at Mile High Spine & Pain Center
There’s no doubt that getting proper sleep is important for health and rehabilitation, but it’s often not enough on its own. If you struggle with chronic or acute pain that prevents you from doing the activities you love, come to Mile High Spine & Pain Center in Broomfield, CO for the rehabilitative treatment you need to get back on your feet. We offer a wide range of non-invasive, drug-free services, including chiropractic care, massage therapy, spinal decompression, and much more.
To learn more about our treatment options, or to schedule a free health consultation at our office, please contact us at (720) 507-0080.
Sleep deprivation can affect all areas of your life. If you have trouble getting proper sleep because of an injury or disability, follow these tips.
When you wake up tired and spend the rest of the day longing for a nap, you know you’re not getting proper sleep. We’ve got the tips you need to help you sleep more soundly at night while recovering from an injury or living with a disability.
Many people with physical injuries or disabilities have difficulty sleeping. If this describes your situation, use these tips for getting proper sleep to help improve your health and rehabilitation efforts.