Broadly speaking, when you sleep, your body lowers the awareness of your sensory organs and starts to focus on internal processes like recovery and rebuilding. Although your body does rebuild and recover while you’re awake, research is showing that you do your best recovery when you sleep. So if you don’t get enough sleep or high-quality sleep, that impacts how well your body will recovery
Keep in mind that your body best recovers when it's in a relaxed state. When you are anxious or in fight or flight mode, your body spends more of its attention on being alert, rather than repairing. I hate when people say “You need to sleep more” because if we could, we would all do it. So instead I’m going to focus on how to help you relax so that your body shifts deeper into relaxation and recovery mode away from fight or flight now. For those scientists, this is helping your body to shift toward the parasympathetic nervous system away from the sympathetic nervous system.
What I find helps me sleep more or better is finding ways to switch out of fight or flight mode and relax, here are some things to consider (Most of these tips are from Arianna Huffington’s (AH) book The Sleep Revolution, which is fantastic for further reading):
Minimize blue light before going to bed - Blue screens and light stimulate you, AH recommends turning screens off at least 2hrs before bedtime.
Avoid eating 2 hrs before going to bed (food is a stimulant especially sugar).
Hot Non-caffeinated Tea can be calming (caffeine is a stimulant so avoid before bed).
Some forms of meditation can help you train the brain to calm down.
Listen to calming relaxing music.
Deep breaths to the bottom of your pelvic floor during the day and right before sleep.
Hot baths can be calming and relaxing.
Light, gentle stretching (LINK) can help your body to release tension and relax.
Journal all the thoughts and feelings to get them out of your head. There is something releasing about getting worries out of your head and into the world in whatever form you'd like
Writing a list of things you need to do can put your mind at ease because it knows that it doesn't have to remember it anymore. That list will be there in the morning.
These are what have worked for me, but everyone is individual, so try them out and see what works for you. Start to listen to your body and recognize behaviours and routines that stimulant or relax you. Remember these are tools, so if you need to perk up, use the stimulants, while if you need to relax, use the relaxants.
Focus on relaxing more to help increase the quality of your sleep.
Start a routine of relaxation practices before you go to bed to allow your brain to slip away from fight or flight mode and into recovery mode.
Injury prevention is about listening to your body and helping it recover. Each of these aspects are tools to help you recover better. The next article is a summary of the topics I've written about.
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