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Improving Your Odds For Injury Recovery and Athletic Performance By Getting Better Sleep

We’ve all experienced the dreaded cycle of sleeplessness. It usually starts in the middle of the night when your mind can’t seem to unplug from a stressful situation. As the night goes on, you become increasingly more anxious about not getting enough sleep which keeps you awake even later. 

Not only does this sleep deprivation cycle cause fatigue and lack of focus, it can also have detrimental effects during your physical therapy rehab and athletic recovery.

At Park North Physical Therapy, we recognize the importance of proper sleep in enhancing your athletic performance and promoting healing. In order to help you recover optimally, we’ll explore how sleep impacts your body and mind during recovery and offer some strategies to break the cycle of sleeplessness for a more restorative rest. 

A Good Night’s Rest in the City That Never Sleeps

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70 million Americans experience chronic sleep problems. Lack of sleep is associated with injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, poor quality of life and well-being, increased health care costs and lost work productivity. Sleep problems are also major contributors to other health conditions, including obesity and depression. In fact, the CDC considers sleep deprivation one of the largest public health problems.

Unsurprisingly in the state of New York, the problem is even more exacerbated. New York ranks among the top 20 states where adults get the least amount of sleep with 36.7 percent of respondents in the state saying they don't get enough. 

New Yorkers are notoriously known for their busy and fast-paced lifestyles, so getting enough rest may be especially challenging. At Park North, we've witnessed this struggle with many of our clients, and we want to help you address the importance of prioritizing your sleep.

The Importance of Sleep for PT Patients

Sleep is essential for your overall wellness and recovery. If you’re undergoing rehabilitation for an injury, evaluating your sleep is especially important. Healthy sleep habits will help you recover faster and heal more efficiently.

Samuel Lu, a physical therapist at Park North Harlem and Morningside, agrees that sleep is critical for his patients.

“Not getting enough sleep slows and interrupts the healing process of the body during rehab. Ideally you want 8-10 hours of sleep with at least 2 hours of deep REM sleep.”

The Relationship Between Athletic Performance and Sleep

Not only does sleep play a role in PT rehab, it also is important for athletic recovery. Sleep plays a crucial role in your body's repair and recovery process. Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of injury, slow down the healing process during rehab, and impact your athletic performance.

Samuel explained how athletes can also inflict more harm to their bodies if they’re not getting enough rest,

“Not getting enough sleep has been shown to increase injury risk in athletes due to increased inflammation and reduced protein growth.”

Good sleep has been shown to improve athletic performance and focus. According to a Stanford study of men's basketball players, extending your sleep by a couple hours a night may even help you perform better athletically. In the study, players who extended their sleep to 10 hours a night found several positive outcomes. Players ran faster in both half-court and full-court sprints, and their shooting improved by at least 9% for both free throws and three-point shots. 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Your body's need for sufficient sleep is vital, both for athletic performance and rehabilitation. We recommend at least 8 hours of sleep every night for most individuals. However, as an athlete or someone in physical therapy, you may require more rest (9-10 hours) to support your body's recovery and training efforts.

5 Sleep Tips for Your Athletic Recovery and PT Rehabilitation:

  1. Get on a regular schedule: Establish a consistent sleep routine to help regulate your body's internal clock and improve the quality of your rest.
  2. Allow time to adjust during travel: When facing athletic competitions or physical therapy treatments away from home, give yourself time to adjust to the new setting and time zone.
  3. Avoid sleep medication: Rely on natural relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to help you unwind before bedtime and promote better sleep quality.
  4. Reduce alcohol and caffeine: Minimize alcohol and caffeine intake, especially within 6 hours before bed, as they can disrupt your sleep patterns.
  5. Adjust your environment: Make sure your sleeping environment is set up for restful sleep. Samuel Lu recommends his PT patients sleep in a cold, dark room (~60 degrees) and avoid blue lights 1-2 hours before bed.

Your sleep is a critical factor in achieving your athletic performance and rehabilitation goals. By prioritizing your sleep and following the expert tips we've provided, you can observe the positive impact on your athletic journey and recovery process.

If you need more guidance about your athletic recovery or injury rehabilitation, contact our experienced team of physical therapists at Park North Physical Therapy in New York City Harlem and Morningside. Sleep well, perform better and heal faster - all with the support of our dedicated team. Remember, your sleep matters!