In the busy world we live in, sometimes to meet the demands and wants in some areas of our lives we sacrifice others. Too often it ends up being our sleep. The implication of this can be quite detrimental to our health. Perhaps the most significant of lack of sleep is the effects on our heart and risk of a cardiac event. However, it also affects your body's ability to heal. When we are deficient in sleep there are several hormones that do not get an opportunity to be released, most notably growth hormones. Growth hormones stimulate the repair and building of muscle tissue, connective tissue, bone building and fat burning.

This leads our body away from being in an anabolic state towards being in a catabolic state.

In a catabolic state our body is in a constant breakdown mode as it is trying to use its own healthy protein tissues to repair and build. As well, there is an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity. I have mentioned several times in previous issues the importance of regulating our automated nervous system made up of our para-sympathetic nervous system (rest and relax) and our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Increased sympathetic nervous system activity increases the heart rate, blood pressure and constricts our blood vessels which diminishes the body's ability to deliver oxygen to the tissues of our body, and in the case of an injury, to our injured parts. This ends up being a huge shareholder to recovery, or inability to recover.

When our body is in a catabolic state, recovery becomes a difficult task, and in many regards can curtail your recovery.

Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research while working with the Stanford University Tennis team and found that when the athletes were sleep deprived they were only ran slower but were consistently sitting less accurate shots.

So to not only help in the prevention of your injuries but maybe more importantly help your body in its recovery manage your sleep. Make sleep important, either add more hours at night or find a way to nap. Napping can be a good inclusion for your health. Dr. Zaregarizi found that an expected nap in laying down position of even 10 minutes can increase blood vessel density by 9% which is a significant amount.

How much sleep is good? You'll read many different opinions on this, some people arguing that 4 hours is sufficient. Most research points to 7-9 hours. How you can know what is a good amount is if you take 5 days and sleep as much as you need without needing to wake up by alarm, then go to bed, and see what time you wake up without an alarm.

How do you know if you are under slept? If you fall sleep right away or need an alarm to wake up, your sleeping is not sufficient.

SUGGeSTIONS TO REGULATE YOUR SLEEP:

1. Establish a bed-time routine . Turn off electronics (including TV and computer) around 45 minutes – 1 hour before bed. Do all of the regular things you do before bed – ex. Wash face, brush teeth, put on pyjamas. Spend the rest of the time before bed-time engaging in non-stimulating activities such as journaling, reading a book, or speaking with a roommate / partner. Establishing a routine helps your body understand that it is starting to shut down for the evening and makes falling asleep easier.

2. Tea. Try a tranqulizing / sedating tea. Good teas are chamomile, peppermint, lemonbalm or passionflower. You want to make sure you avoid caffeine in the evening time. Caffeine is in green, black and white teas and even in low amounts in decaf beverages.

3. Body Scan . When you lie down to go to sleep, if you are having difficulties try this exercise. Start at your toes and repeatedly tell yourself in your mind to relax your toes. When you feel them relax move up your body gradually and repeat. Sometimes you'll get from your toes to your head, down your arms and into your fingers. (Ex. Relaxes -> relax calves -> relax shins -> relax knees)