We spend about a third of our lives asleep. It is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleeping helps us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion.
Sleep disorders are characterized by abnormal sleep patterns that interfere with physical, mental, and emotional functioning. Stress or anxiety can cause a night without sleep, as do a variety of other problems such as a painful injury or condition keeping us from falling asleep.
Although the researchers who study sleep may disagree on the exact mechanisms to which adequate sleep improves your health, all the researchers agree on one thing: sleep is essential to health. The benefits of sleep are relatively widespread (cardiovascular risk, brain health, life expectancy, reaction time, etc). However it is less well known that sleep is extremely important for musculoskeletal health. Sleep affects musculoskeletal pain through different avenues, this can either be directly or indirectly. Directly, reduced sleep increases the brains sensitivity to noxious (painful) stimulus and increases levels of inflammation in the body. Indirectly, short sleep duration will increases ones stress levels and stress has been linked to the development of musculoskeletal pain. Most research on this phenomenon states that musculoskeletal pain associated with poor sleep is felt in many different areas and is unlikely to be focal. Interestingly, longer durations of sleep (12+ hours) are also associated with similar health issues, this is because a long duration of sleep suggests fragmented sleep and poor sleep quality.
Furthermore sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders. Stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems or make existing problems worse, and having an anxiety disorder exacerbates the problem.
There are more than 80 different sleep problems listed in the medical textbooks, ranging from the inability to get to sleep (insomnia) to the inability to stay awake (narcolepsy). Many sleep problems are temporary, and you may find the self-help measures below help get you back to more normal sleeping pattern. But sleep problems can also be a symptom of other conditions, such as a problem with your thyroid gland or depression, so it’s worth seeing your medical professional if sleeping problems continue.
How much sleep do I need?
Different people need different amounts of sleep, also different people sleep better at different times, this is a genetic predisposition and cannot be changed. Generally scientific studies show that the “normal” about of sleep for an adult is anywhere between 4 to 14 hours but most people sit around the 7-9 hours mark with differences based around your age and what time you best sleep at. The current recommendations from the national sleep foundation can be seen below:
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours
You may be an outlier who requires more or less sleep, but this is rather unlikely, I would say if you are an adult, aim for 8 hours and then tweak your sleep amount from there to see where you are most comfortable.
Really there is no bad time to see a professional if you are struggling with sleep. Whether it be a doctor or a physiotherapist, or counsellor. Here at Joints and Points, we offer a private physiotherapy and counselling service where we aim to see you within 48 hours of you contacting us.
If you need help or advice our physiotherapists, sports therapist and counsellors at J&P are here to help get you back to health. Contact us to book an appointment, free consultation or find out more.
0151 345 6823 – Office Number [email protected] – Office email