The power of sleep

At one time or another, we’ve all had a nap and felt the benefit… but have you ever stopped to think about just how restorative sleep is – and how it’s good for our health?

It’s National Bed Month throughout March, and it’s about much more than making time for a lie-in. As Liz Oke, our Head of Clinical Services, says, sleep is not only vital to our general health and wellbeing, but it is also essential for healing after undergoing surgery.

“There’s a lot to be said about having a good night’s sleep, but our interest in this goes much further,” Liz said.

“It is advisable to rest after surgery to encourage a safe recovery. While it’s great to be as active as possible as soon as possible and get back to normality, pushing yourself too hard too soon can cause issues – for example, your immune system needs all the help it can get after an operation, and during sleep our bodies produce more white blood cells that fight viruses. Remember that the body heals through sleep, and post-surgery it has a lot of healing to do.

“There’s wellbeing, too. Understandably, the lead-up to and the day of an operation can be stressful, and that doesn’t necessarily stop once you’re back home. Sleep also provides rest of the mind.

“Then there’s medication. Some people require help like painkillers following a procedure, or physiotherapy, for example. Sometimes these things can have side effects and again, sleep is restorative here.

“Every patient at St Hugh’s is individual and we talk through post-operative care to suit people’s own needs.”

 

Sleep and resting also has positive effects on your energy levels, supports tissue regeneration, and helps wounds heal faster. This is all because when you sleep, your brain and body can concentrate on fixing areas that might need attention.

“Blood pressure drops, and your heart rate decreases during sleep,” added Liz, “so your organs are being given a break while the rest of you can focus on mending – all the things you can’t do while you’re awake.”

 

 

National Bed Month is organised by The Sleep Council, which is now working in partnership with The Sleep Charity. “Sleep deprivation can have a serious impact on emotional, physical, and mental health,” says The Sleep Charity. “We aim to provide access to high quality information and advice to deal with most sleep issues and ensure everyone understands the value of a good night’s sleep. We also campaign for improvements to the support available as well as providing  accredited training for professionals so they can offer sleep support to the people they work with.”

But is getting a good night’s sleep as easy as it sounds? The Sleep Charity asked Simon Williams, from the National Bed Federation, to find out more. He says: “As the clocks go forward and we welcome lighter days, now is the ideal time to check your bedroom environment so that you can continue to sleep well during the lighter mornings and nights. Your bedroom environment is essential in helping you achieve quality and consistent sleep.”

 

Simon says we should think about the following:

  • Light and darkness tell your body when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep. If you are finding yourself waking up earlier with the lighter mornings, block out the light with blackout curtains or an eye mask.
  • Make the bedroom a TV and gadget-free zone.
  • The ideal temperature for a bedroom is 16-18 degrees Celsius.
  • Make sure you choose the right weight of bedding for you. Choose a bed with the right amount of space and support.

 

Find out more about The Sleep Council here and The Sleep Charity here.