GeneralHow sleep affects Recovery and Injury risk


Want to know the biggest mistakes I see that cause injury or prevent recovery? 

Well, I’ve created a four-part blog series to address these mistakes, which I’ll share throughout July! I’ll be addressing the most common pitfalls I’ve witnessed in both clinical practice and professional football to help you highlight any gaps within your own lifestyle.

The first and arguably the unsung hero of recovery is sleep.


Why is sleep important?

Injury recovery isn’t solely about physical rehabilitation; it’s also about the quality of your sleep. We know that having less than 8 hours of sleep a night nearly doubles people’s risk of injury. Many individuals dealing with injuries or chronic pain often neglect the role of sleep in their recovery journey. This article aims to shed light on the significance of sleep in injury recovery and provide practical strategies for improving sleep quality.


The Role of Sleep in Injury Recovery

  • Tissue Repair and Growth: During sleep, your body is actively repairing and growing tissues, essential for healing injured muscles, tendons, ligaments and even your brain.
  • Inflammation Control: Sleep helps regulate inflammation, which is crucial in the early stages of healing. It ensures that inflammation remains effective but not excessive.
  • Pain Management: Good sleep releases endorphins, natural pain relievers, making it easier to tolerate pain and perceive it as less severe.
  • Hormone Balance: Sleep plays a significant role in regulating hormones like growth hormone and testosterone, which are essential for muscle and tissue repair.
  • Immune Function: A robust immune system is crucial for injury recovery, and sleep boosts your immune response, protecting you from complications.
  • Injury Risk: Sleeping less than 8 hours a night can increase the risk of injury by 70%, particularly in athletes.

Aim for Quality Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of restful sleep each night, but remember that quality trumps quantity. Focus on optimising your sleep environment to maximise the benefits of sleep for injury recovery.


Set yourself up for sleep success by doing these things

  • Light Control: Sleep in a dark room to improve insulin resistance, sleep quality, and cardiac function. Consider using an eye mask for added darkness.
  • Pre-Bed Routine: Avoid mental stimulation and blue light exposure from devices (phones, tablets, TVs) at least two hours before bedtime. Blue light exposure suppresses melatonin, the hormone needed for sleep.
  • Weighted Blanket: Using a weighted blanket (12% of your body weight) can increase melatonin production by 32%.
  • Room Temperature: Maintain a room temperature of around 18 degrees Celsius for optimal sleep quality.
  • Noise Reduction: Minimise external noise that can negatively affect your sleep.
  • Caffeine Management: Avoid caffeine after midday, as it can affect sleep quality even if it doesn’t prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Consistent Schedule: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.
  • Morning Blue Light: Get exposure to morning blue light, as it regulates your circadian rhythm and helps you sleep better at night. Natural sunlight is ideal, but blue light lamps can be used during winter months.
  • Shower: Taking a shower at 40-42.5°C, 1-2 hours before bed can improve sleep quality.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to help you unwind before sleep.
  • Consult a Professional: If sleep disturbances persist or worsen your recovery, consider seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or sleep specialist.

Prioritising quality sleep and following healthy sleep practices is an investment in your well-being, ensuring an efficient return to an active lifestyle. So, the next time you’re on the road to recovery, remember the incredible power of a good night’s sleep in helping you bounce back stronger and healthier.


Thanks for reading, and tune in at the same time next week to find out the second biggest mistake…