Sleep plays a pivotal role in good health and well-being throughout life. Getting enough good quality and refreshing sleep at the right times can help protect mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety.

Much of how we feel during the day is dependent upon sleep. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and development.

The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.

Healthy Brain Function and Emotional Well-Being

Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. In essence, it’s reorganising your day and clearing the way for a new day. 

Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Whether you're learning for your finance exams or how to perfect your golf swing, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make balanced decisions, and be creative.

Studies also show that sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain. If you're sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, and risk-taking behavior.

Physical Health

Sleep plays an important role in physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your tissues. Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and stroke. 

Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. 

Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way in which your immune system responds. For example, you may have trouble fighting common infections.

Daytime Performance and Safety

Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function well throughout the day. People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and regrettably make more mistakes.

How much sleep do you need?

Over the years sleep has been controversial. William Shakespear referred to it as a “sweet nurse”. Napoleon Bonaparte was asked how many hours sleep people need, he is said to have replied: "Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool." Conversely both Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher survived on just four hours per night. Allegedly she remarked that “sleep is for wimps”. 

The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life. Although sleep needs vary from person to person, the average adult needs 7-8 hours per day.

Sleep and Pain

People with pain also feel less control over their sleep, worry more about lack of sleep affecting their health and exhibit greater sleep sensitivity. They’re more likely than others to say environmental factors make it more difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep. These factors include noise, light, temperature and their mattresses alike.

Sleep quality and duration should be considered a vital sign, as they are strong indicators of overall health and quality of life,” said Kristen Knutson, PhD, National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America™ Poll Scholar. “Extremely long or short sleep durations are associated with more specific conditions, but for many people who are close to getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, getting just 15 to 30 minutes more sleep a night could make difference in how they feel.”

When pain is first experienced, most people do not experience sleeplessness. However, when pain becomes a problem, it can be a vicious cycle. If someone experiences poor sleep due to pain one night, he or she is likely to experience more problems the next night and so on. It gets worse and worse every night. 

Also we know that pain triggers poor sleep. For instance, someone experiencing lower back pain may experience several microarousals (a change in the sleep state to a lighter stage of sleep) per each hour of sleep, which lead to awakenings. Pain can be a serious intrusion to sleep. 

What can I do to help myself? 

Practicing good sleep hygiene is key to achieving a good night's sleep. Some tips for people withpain are: 

  • Stop or limit caffeine consumption. 
  • Limit alcohol intake, particularly in the evening. 
  • Consult your GP or Consultantto discuss medication or onward referral for physiotherapy with the JSSC
  • Practice relaxation techniques, meditation or mindfulness
  • Undertake physical exercise under the supervision of your physiotherapist. 

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