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How your body repairs itself while you sleep

The average person spends eight hours a day sleeping. When stretched out over the average lifetime, this comes to about 229,961 hours or about 26 years of sleep. However, spending about a third of your life sleeping is not a waste of time. Those hours of slumber are very productive since the human body uses sleep as a time to repair and reset the body. Although it may feel like you are not doing anything while you sleep, in reality there are many important things happening that can improve your health. Here are six ways your body heals itself while you slumber.

Making melatonin – When it is getting close to bedtime, the brain releases a hormone called melatonin that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep until the body is ready to awake. This hormone also provides several health benefits. Melatonin triggers a release of antioxidants to the immune system which can fight cancer, inflammation and brain decline.

Relaxing the back – Being upright all day causes the discs in your spine to compress together. Gravity also exerts pressure on your spine during the day. When you lay down to sleep, the discs in your spine decompress and stretch a little, which is good for the health of your back. Choosing to sleep in a way that doesn’t compress your spine like on your side in a fetal position, provides even more relief for your back.

Slowing the beat – When you sleep, there is less demand on the body so both the heart beat and heart rate slow down providing a beneficial time of rest. Blood pressure lowers also allowing the heart muscles and circulatory system a time of relaxation and repair before starting a new day.

Healing the damage – During sleep, a higher level of collagen is released into the body. Collagen proteins help strengthen skin cells and repair those that are damaged. This is important for the healing process. As a side benefit, collagen reduces wrinkles and helps skin look younger.

Switching hormones – During the day as you rush to work, head to the gym in the afternoon and get a few chores done before bed, your muscles are working hard and burning energy. Your body releases adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones to meet the energy demands. When you fall asleep, these hormone levels decrease and different beneficial hormones including the human growth hormone are released, which help with muscle repair, growth and general maintenance.

Fighting germs – Your body is busy with all your life tasks from walking to working all day long. When you head to bed, your body turns attention to the immune system. Proteins, white blood cells and other substances are sent out to fight off germs, infection and disease. Lack of sleep can actually decrease your resistance to infection and disease because this immune system boost is not able to be completed. Increasing your sleep when you are fighting disease or infection allows your immune system more time to do its work and helps with recovery.

Securing successful sleep
Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise but it can be easier to do a push-up or eat an apple than it is to fall asleep. The National Sleep Foundations suggests getting some exercise every day and avoiding napping during the day. Develop a ritual where you do the same things every night before going to bed and try to keep bedtime consistent. Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before going to bed. Try to wind down activity levels in the hours before going to bed with activities like reading. Remove cellphones, computers and work-related materials from your bedroom Keep the bedroom cool at between 60 and 65 degrees. Reduce light and noise for the best sleep experience. If these things aren’t working, consider keeping a sleep diary and look for a connection between the day’s activities and your sleep patterns. Intentionally looking at how the day’s activities affected your sleep may help reveal necessary changes.

Sleep and recovery
The beneficial aspects of sleep become crucial during recovery from a medical event or surgery. Getting sufficient sleep can contribute significantly to recovery success. However, the aches and worries that can occur during recovery can affect sleep quality. This is why many people choose to recover in a short-term care facility where pain control, wound care and other worrisome issues are being monitored by an experienced staff.

Whitehall of Deerfield is one of the area’s premier choices for recovery and has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and rehabilitation centers.

Guests at Whitehall of Deerfield will have the opportunity for restorative sleep in a quiet, dark, temperature-controlled room. Nurses and other professional staff make sure that all medications, meals and treatments are given at the proper times each day. Individualized, one-on-one therapy is given seven days a week by top therapists who know exactly what needs to be done to regain strength and mobility quickly and successfully. Each guest is able to focus on the important task of healing and recovery without distractions.

At Whitehall of Deerfield, guests enjoy their short-term, post-hospital stay in spacious suites and rooms featuring such amenities as concierge service, daily delivery of Starbucks coffee and newspaper, high-speed wireless Internet, dozens of cable channels with a 24-hour channel of newly released movies and even valet parking for visitors.

Guests can also enjoy a wide-ranging choice of cuisine from selective menus as well as a variety of dining settings. An on-site ice cream parlor and coffee shop offer fresh-baked goods in the mornings and ice cream treats in afternoon, as well as gourmet coffee all day long.

To learn more about recovering at Whitehall of Deerfield or to schedule a tour, visit whitehallofdeerfield.com or call 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600