When healing a wound, it’s especially crucial to get high-quality sleep! Use these 5 simple sleep hacks to supercharge wound healing.
We’ve all heard about the importance of spending between 7-9 hours sleeping every night.
But did you know…when the body is working to heal a wound, it’s critical that these sleeping hours are spent getting high-quality rest?
How Sleep Supports Healing
Wound healing requires extra energy in order to regenerate cells and deliver more essential nutrients to the damaged tissue. And one of the best ways to meet this demand is with an excellent night’s sleep.
Of course, there’s a number of reasons you might be getting poor quality sleep. Factors like stress, physical discomfort, and a poor sleeping environment can all derail even the best intentions for rest and relaxation.
And this is especially important when healing a wound, since inadequate sleep can increase your risk of infection and other complications. A 2018 study even found that “sleep restriction delays skin barrier recovery” which means wound healing slows down.
But getting quality, restful sleep reduces inflammation, regulates hormones, and can even help you heal wounds faster!
So, whether you’re dealing with acute or chronic wounds, here are 5 simple sleep hacks to supercharge your healing.
Develop a Nighttime Routine
Like most healthy habits, consistency is key! When you practice a regular nightly routine, it signals to the brain that it’s time to wind-down and rest. So as much as possible, attempt to stick to a schedule for going to sleep and waking up – even on weekends.
And for best results, avoid electronics for at least an hour or two before bed. Electronic devices like cell phones and tablets emit blue light that can disrupt the circadian rhythm and interfere with the regulation of important sleep hormones such as melatonin.
So instead of scrolling through your social media feed or watching television, try reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to calming music.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Make your environment sleep-friendly by ensuring the room is quiet, dark, and set to a comfortable temperature. Disrupted sleep can leave you feeling groggy and worn out in the morning. So, minimizing distractions is a critical step for catching solid, uninterrupted shut-eye.
Another way to reduce waking during the night is to avoid potential triggers of discomfort. Direct pressure or friction on a wound site can cause pain and further trauma of the tissue. Use offloading devices or pillows to ensure the wound area is properly protected.
Breathe Your Way into Relaxation
One of the most powerful sleep hacks is to simply practice mindfulness with breathing exercises. Focusing on your breathing is a fast and easy tool that encourages the nervous system to wind-down and rest.
An easy way to achieve a relaxed state before bed is to simply count each breath in your head as you breathe naturally. A more advanced option is to try a breathing exercise specifically aimed at relaxing the body and mind, such as Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4:7:8 technique.
Move Your Body
Incorporating exercise during the day not only helps your body heal, but also improves the quality of your sleep at night. A 2020 review of 14 different studies found that low-to-moderate intensity exercises like tai chi, brisk walking, and yoga had the best results on sleep quality for older adults.
Most sleep experts agree it’s best to exercise early in the day to avoid being overstimulated by activity too close to bedtime.
Watch What You Eat (& Drink)
Consuming caffeine or alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to fall (and stay) asleep. So, to improve your odds of sleeping soundly all night, it’s best to avoid these substances before bed, as well as diuretics and other medications which can cause night waking.
Likewise, eating a sizable meal or drinking a large volume of fluids causes the digestive system to kick into gear. Plus, laying down with a full stomach can lead to reflux and heartburn, which in turn prevents relaxation and rest.