When you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your body in multiple ways. You may feel cranky at work the next day, have trouble accomplishing your daily tasks, and even develop a headache or migraine. One effect of sleep deprivation that most people don’t consider is inflammation - it is sometimes hard to distinguish when your body has elevated inflammatory chemicals since this is an internal effect. But, it is essential to understand the bodily processes surrounding inflammation to prioritize sleep in your routine.
When your body has more inflammatory chemicals than normal, it cannot operate like it needs to. You may even feel sluggish or groggy throughout the day. Getting good sleep is part of that, but so is a healthy, active lifestyle. We encourage this among our patients at EW Motion Therapy, and we do our best as physical therapists to provide them with helpful advice so they can thrive outside the clinic. Even if you do not choose physical therapy or wellness services with us, we still want to discuss how sleep and inflammation can affect your daily routine.
This article discusses the relationship between sleep and inflammation, other health issues they can cause, and some things you can do to help. With this information, you can promote the best quality of sleep and wake up ready to take on your day.
How do they affect each other?
When you don’t get proper sleep, you take away some of your body’s time that it needs to heal. All you want to do when you’re sick is sleep, right? That is your body telling you that it must repair itself. Inflammation is an immune response and is a natural part of the body’s repair process. When the immune response is interrupted by a lack of/inadequate sleep, it can cause more chronic inflammation over time.
On the other hand, when you have more inflammatory chemicals in response to an illness or injury, you may not sleep as well. This can quickly become a vicious cycle - inadequate sleep leads to more inflammation which may further interrupt your sleep cycle. The process is much easier to prevent than to break, which is why prioritizing sleep in your daily routine is essential to a balanced lifestyle.
What other health issues can they cause?
Consistent sleep deprivation and increased inflammation can lead to many health issues. Because the immune response doesn’t have time to slow down during sleep, you put yourself at a higher risk for diabetes, heart failure, and coronary heart disease. An increase in the immune response can also change your blood pressure and metabolism over time, and it can also inhibit your body’s stress responses.
There is also a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders, and you can even put yourself at risk for reduced brain function. Your brain needs time to repair proteins just like the rest of your body, and when it does not have the time to do those repairs during sleep, it becomes more vulnerable to damage. These effects can be life-threatening, so sleep is vital to longevity and optimum functioning.
What can I do to help?
One of the easiest things you can do to help decrease inflammation is to change your diet. Added sugars, trans fats, and any processed foods are inflammatory by nature and give your body more work to do when trying to make repairs. Decreasing inflammation will most likely help you sleep better, but you can also prioritize healthy sleep habits in your routine. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals at least an hour before you go to bed, and put down your electronics around the same time to decrease your response to the blue light. To fall asleep faster, try meditation or another breathing exercise, which can help you slow down and get the best night’s sleep possible.
How else can I reduce inflammation?
Now you know more about how sleep and inflammation can work together to the detriment of your daily functioning. Sleep is the body’s natural healer, and it is also essential to give yourself plenty of rest after high-intensity exercise so your muscles can begin to recover. Healthy food and plenty of water can also help aid in this process, and when you begin to build healthy habits now, you will start to see results sooner than you think.
Adequate sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle, along with proper nutrition and exercise. At EW Motion Therapy, we have programs in place to help our clients with all aspects of healthy living, and we want to tailor a treatment plan to your needs and goals. If you are interested in working with us to build healthy habits, answer the questions in our Program Match Tool to find the program that best fits your needs.