Sleep your way to good health

A good night’s sleep is one of the easiest ways to prepare for and recover from surgery. Sleep can help you stay healthy and your body heal.

by Nashville General Hospital
Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why doctors often recommend bed rest for people who aren’t feeling well? It is because sleep helps your body heal and recover from illness.

According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should have 7-8 hours of sleep per day. In the U.S., more than 35 percent of adults report not getting enough rest or sleep.

Research shows that not getting enough sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health. This includes an increased risk of heart and kidney disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity and high blood pressure.

“Our bodies are very complex and, in general, sleep helps the body regroup and focus on healing,” says Nashville General Hospital clinical director of peri-operative services, Josh Baxter, DNP, MBA, CRNA. “Sleep is especially important following surgery. It gives the body’s immune system time to generate white blood cells that can help the healing process and release growth hormones that aid tissue repair.”

If you have problems getting a good night’s sleep, here are a few steps that can help you improve your sleep habits.

  • Get into a rhythm of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in the evening and before bedtime.
  • If you nap, rest in the early afternoon, but not after 3 p.m.
  • Get sunlight and fresh air during the day.
  • One hour before bedtime, turn off your TV and computer devices, including cell phones and tablets.
  • Relax before going to bed by taking a bath, reading or listening to soothing music.

It is also important to create a good sleep environment.

  • Use light-blocking curtains to make your bedroom dark.
  • Try to keep your bedroom quiet.
  • Reduce the temperature in your room so it is cooler at night.

Keep in mind, if you are unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes don’t lie awake in bed worrying about not falling asleep. Rather, get up and go to another room. Do something relaxing like reading or meditating. When you start to feel drowsy, go back to bed.

Studies show that people who get enough sleep are healthier, have lower risk for chronic conditions and experience less stress. All these factors are important for a healthy body, especially when recovering from surgery or trauma.

After surgery, you should follow the recovery instructions provided by your doctor. Even though you may want to return to your regular routine as quickly as possible, doing so could slow down the healing process and delay your recovery. In addition to what the doctor tells you, by following the tips above you can sleep your way to good health.

Click here for a free guide to healthy sleep provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Click here to watch the latest Wellness Wednesday Live event featuring Josh Baxter, DNP, MBA, CRNA.

    This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should talk with your primary care physician or other qualified medical professionals regarding diagnosis and treatment of a health condition.