Osteopath Basingstoke & Hungerford

An osteopathic perspective on the importance of sleep


Underestimated to say the least, we work hard, train hard - why not 'sleep hard'?

Quality sleep is important to not only recharge our batteries but plays a vital role in tissue repair from injuries and aids rehabilitation. It's a misnomer that more treatment equals faster healing.

Its true our bodies possess a fantastic 'in built self healing mechanism' which osteopaths can help to facilitate should this break down. However, time is also a healer and quality recovery with downtime from maintaining factors in some injuries can also be essential.

What happens when we're asleep?
Sleep Sleep architecture follows a pattern of alternating REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep throughout a typical night in a cycle that repeats itself about every 90 minutes.

NREM (75% of night)

As we begin to fall asleep, we enter NREM sleep, composed of stages which essentially head towards REM gradually relaxing all body systems that don't need to be operating at such a level that is required in the working day.
Blood pressure/breathing rate/body temperature etc all begin to lower.
Blood supply to muscles increase and hormones such as growth hormone (essential for growth and development and muscle development) are released.
White blood cells are released which aids fighting infection and boosting your immune system.

REM (25% of night)

First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night.

  • Provides energy to brain and body
  • Supports daytime performance
  • Brain is active and dreams occur , eyes dart back and forth
  • Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off

It's not just tissue repair that goes on when you're asleep. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people ate an average of nearly 300 fewer calories per day when they were well-rested.

"We're discovering that a part of the brain that controls sleep also plays a role in appetite and metabolism".
Your body makes more Ghrelin and less Leptin. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, and Leptin is a hormone that tells you when you're full.

Clinical relevance: If we are in pain and unable to sleep, our repair process struggles and lack of sleep begins to run us down mentally and emotionally!

Further info - How can I sleep better to help tissue repair?