Having worked in football for 8 years, I fully understand the demands of the working week and the effect on personal wellbeing and family life. Too often we dedicate so much to the job; in commuting to and from the office, numerous meetings, emails, often eating lunch on the go or at your desk etc. that we often forget about ourselves and our own wellbeing. Despite loving my job in football, this lack of work: life balance became the main reason for leaving.
Over the years, there has been increasing research into the effects sleep has on our lives. We know that getting less than 8 hours sleep increases injury risk in sportspeople by 1.7x. We also know that getting less than 7 hours sleep can significantly affect alertness, reaction times, memory and decision making when tests are performed.
Do we really balance our lives well? Sleep is possibly the best medication we can take and allows time for not only information to be stored in our minds and processed from our busy day, but we also make better choices in selection of food volume and types. Sleep deprivation has been shown to be associated with obesity in both children, adolescents, and adults.
At Manchester City FC Academy, we tried to educate players that recovery was a crucial part of training, and sleep was possibly the most under-rated and overlooked element of this. Try to think of it as the best possible pill for pain relief you can get, but the fact that it’s FREE means that bizarrely we don’t value it enough!!
**If you are someone who struggles to get enough hours sleep at night, maybe try a short nap in the middle of the day as this has shown to improve the effect on the state of perceived alertness and on performance during memorisation and rapid decision-making tests. However, if this is your strategy make sure it is no longer than 30 minutes, which is about the time we go into deep sleep and may have a detrimental effect on your main sleep that night.** When you have any kind of injury or niggle, maybe ask yourself if your sleep could be a crucial part of the jigsaw puzzle to help you right yourself. With all my patients in Physiotherapy I ask about sleeping habits and how they affect your problem. It really is as important as any medication you are taking to control pain. This can play a crucial part in supplementing the treatment we deliver alongside your exercise regime. Your nervous system will start to calm down and your pain levels are likely to subside and with it grows your confidence to return to whatever you have been unable to do.