Catch Those Zzz’s for Optimal Recovery

Author: Kristin Bockelman MS, LAT, ATC

We are now in the midst of summer, and with that comes more hours of daylight each day! As we fill those hours in the early morning with exercise (or upcoming Tokyo Olympic coverage!), late afternoons being on the water, catching a baseball game, or a bonfire with friends in the evening, we often start to sacrifice another area of our life to fit in all these summer time activities…sleep!

With advanced wearable technology today, it’s never been easier to monitor your sleeping patterns and improve your sleep scores. We all know we feel better after a great night’s sleep, but what you may not know is how vital it can be to injury recovery and the healing process!

The CDC recommends for teenagers to get between 8-10 hours in a 24-hour period, and 7-9 hours a night for adults. During these hours, our body recovers from the day and stress we put on it. While sleeping, our muscles receive an increased amount of blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to help repair damaged tissue. Multiple hormones are released while we are sleeping, such as prolactin which helps regulate inflammation in the body.  For the younger population, growth hormone is released during deep sleep, which is vital for bone and muscle growth. Studies show that when we are sleep deprived, we decrease our body’s natural ability to building muscle, and regenerate damaged tissues.

With sleep being such a vital part of the recovery process, it’s important to create a routine and environment that sets you up for the most sleep success, whether you’re trying to recover from general soreness following a workout, or just had surgery. Post-surgical sleeping can be difficult, and it is best to talk with your physical therapist and surgeon about recommendations that will work best for you and your recovery.

In general, establishing a few good sleep habits will set you up for optimal recovery:

  • Create a bed time routine! This can involve specific activities or actions that begin to let your brain know it’s time to start slowing down.
  • Have a morning alarm to wake up at a consistent time, even on weekends and vacations, but also have an alarm to start that bed time routine, instead of rushing to get ready at the time you wish you were already in bed.
  • Turn off those electronics! Turn off the laptop, cellphone and tablet at least 30 minutes before bed.
  • Try to limit fluids and large meals before bed, so your body can relax and not focus on digestion.
  • Limit caffeine earlier in the day, the afternoon pick me up cup of coffee could be still affecting you at bed time!
  • Please consult with your doctor before utilizing any supplements to aid in sleep.

We have a variety of recovery tools at both Performance Centers to assist you with your injury recovery, but remember to take advantage of the best recovery tool you have available to you every night…. a good night’s sleep!

About the Author:

Kristin Bockelman is a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC), member of the National Athletic Trainer Association and licensed Athletic Trainer (LAT) through the North Carolina Board of Athletic Trainer Examiners. Kristin graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2012 with her Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training. She spent the next 2 years as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer at Georgia Southern University, earning her Master of Science degree in Kinesiology. 

While at Georgia Southern, Kristin was the athletic trainer for the co-ed and all-girl’s cheer teams, and the women’s swimming and diving team. Following Georgia Southern, she spent 4 years as an Assistant Athletic Trainer at Gardner-Webb University working primarily with the men’s and women’s swimming program, as well as being an adjunct professor for the undergraduate athletic training education program.  Kristin joined Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in 2018, and prior to joining the staff at the Performance Center, was the outreach athletic trainer for Saint Mary’s School.