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5 important ways that sleep helps you heal

Following a surgery, illness or other medical event, many doctors prescribe a healthy dose of sleep along with antibiotics, pain medications and therapy. Medical professionals have seen that sleep plays a significant role in helping the body heal itself and return to normal function. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked sleep deprivation to several medical issues including hypertension, diabetes, depression and cancer. Research into the science behind sleep is ongoing, but here is a glimpse at some of the ways sleep is involved in recovery.


During the deepest phases of sleep, blood flow to muscles increases. Since blood carries oxygen and nutrients, this helps the muscles heal. In many cases, cells are regenerated by this increased flow of blood. 


Hormones help regulate many functions of the body and are secreted by various glands. The hormones travel through the bloodstream to all areas of the body. The pituitary gland at the base of the brain sends out important hormones needed for growth. Most of these hormones are released during deep sleep. This hormone release during sleep is important because the hormones help with healing, muscle repair and growth of new tissue. 

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When an injury occurs, the human body goes into high alert and sends antibodies and proteins to the area to protect the body. This process known as inflammation can cause swelling, redness and pain. Although inflammation is initially a positive response, if it does not decrease, new problems and imbalances in the body can occur. During sleep, the body releases prolactin to regulate and reduce inflammation before it can become harmful. Healing and recovery can be more efficient if prolactin is produced by getting proper sleep.


Surgery, illness or injuries are stressful events. One way the body reacts to stress is to increase the release of the hormone cortisol, which places the body on high alert by releasing energy that makes the heart beat faster, increases breathing and tenses up muscles. Excess cortisol can also depress the immune system and increase blood pressure to unhealthy levels. When a person is functioning normally, cortisol is released in a regular cycle. The levels are highest in the morning as you start the day and then decrease throughout the day. The lowest levels are at night during sleep. This natural drop in cortisol levels allows the body to get needed rest. Taking steps to keep a regular bedtime and get a proper amount of sleep can help control cortisol levels and keep them at a healthy range. 


During sleep, cells in the body produce proteins. These proteins are the building blocks for the formation of new cells needed during the healing process. A good night’s sleep can help the body make the needed repairs for recovery.

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There are many things that can affect the quality of sleep, from stress to diet to pain. These factors become harder to control during a time of recovery. Choosing to stay in a short-term care facility like Whitehall of Deerfield can help achieve a restorative sleep schedule. The compassionate staff at Whitehall of Deerfield can attend to all needs from pain management to wound care, providing a peace of mind that comes from knowing all medical and physical needs are being managed. This excellent medical care is provided in an elegant setting with well-appointed rooms, a wide range of menu selections and even an attentive concierge. Don’t leave your recovery to chance. Plan for a recovery that is both effective and elegant by choosing Whitehall of Deerfield.

One of the most respected post-hospital rehabilitation centers on the North Shore is Whitehall of Deerfield where guests can be assured of superior care. With excellent outcomes and a resort-like setting, Whitehall of Deerfield has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and post-hospital rehabilitation centers. Whitehall of Deerfield is also ranked #4 in Newsweek magazine’s 2022 list of best post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers in Illinois—and has received U.S. News & World Report’s “Top Performing” rating. Learn more about the individualized, one-on-one therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600