Sleep Health

By Dawn Sandalcidi, PT, RCMT, BCB-PMD

One third of the US population suffers from sleep disorders. Sleep disruptions occur across a person’s lifespan, for example:  erratic sleep patterns during teen years, new babies, work or kid stresses, hormones and pain are all big culprits when it comes to having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting sufficient sleep. 

Getting good sleep is necessary for optimal health and poor sleep impairs function. 

Quality sleep is imperative for the function of your body systems including:  immune system function, healing, pain management, cognitive function, learning, memory and cardiovascular function.

Sleep is a basic human need. Without adequate sleep, people can experience:

·         Increased pain perception 

·         Loss of function

·         Decreased quality of life

·         Increased depression and/or anxiety

·         Attention deficits

·         Disruption in ability to process information

·         Memory impairment

·         Decreased ability to learn new motor skills or exercise putting people at risk for balance issues and falls 

·         Decreased functioning in work related and recreational activities, as well as self-care

The cost of insomnia is over $100 billion per year! 

Here are some general questions to ask yourself about your sleep patterns:

How much sleep do you typically get?

Do you feel well rested when you wake up?

Is your condition impacting your sleep?  If so, how?

How would you rate your sleep quality?

Does being sleepy during the day interfere with your daily function?

Do you have difficultly falling asleep, difficulty returning to sleep, if you wake up in the middle of the night or difficultly with waking up too early (possible indicator of insomnia if lasts longer than 3 months)?

Do you snore loudly or frequently?  Has anyone observed you stop breathing while you sleep (possible indicator of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Do you have a strong urge to continually move your legs while you are trying to sleep (possible indication of restless leg syndrome (RLS)?

If any of these are a concern it is beneficial to speak with your health care provider for further investigation.

Click her for a handout you can use for good sleep hygiene. 

In addition to the suggestions on this handout, you may also want to speak to your physical therapist about how to use pillows and supports to allow your back and neck to be more comfortable while you sleep.

Please feel free to ask your therapist if you have questions or need suggestions!

Reference: Siengsukon, CF, Al-dughmi M, Stevens S. Sleep Health Promotion:Practical Information for Physical Therapists. 2017 Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, vol 97 no 8: 826-36.