How to sleep well and why you need to sleep well to recover from stroke
Stroke has many impacts on your life, one that is often not talked about is the impact on sleep. Many people report that they have difficulty sleeping after a stroke, due to various reasons. One study says Approximately half of stroke survivors have insomnia! The main reason for you being tired is simply that you have had a stroke (i know, so obvious XD) In the early weeks and months after a stroke your body is healing and the rehabilitation process takes up a lot of energy so it is very common to feel tired. The flip side is after a stroke, you might be excessively sleeping or feel sleepy during the day. This is actually quite normal and a good sign of your brain and body trying to recover After any injury, especially a brain injury, deep sleep is vital for helping the brain recover and heal its cardiovascular system. Lack of sleep has been highlighted for many years now being linked to emotional disturbances and physical health problems. The list is depressingly long for physical health problems. It modulates your cardiovascular, fat levels, energy levels, emotional levels, memory, cellular health, brain health and more.
Important to note is that dreams are important to memory and learning. It has been clinically validated that the first part of dreams are related to consolidating motor function and the second part is related to emotional regulation. So if you want to improve your motor function for rehab, sleeping right is crucial! The process of sleep Going to sleep is a complicated process mediated between various parts of your brain, hormonal system and ancient biological processes at the cellular level. It involves your circadian rhythm, your digestive system and an interesting part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, located right above your mouth. It is the master cellular circadian rhythm clock that sets the “time” for the release of all the right pathways to make sure you sleep. You can directly effect this by choosing what kind of light you let into your eyes at what time. What lights you have shine into your eyes affect your natural circadian rhythm, try to aim to set your rhythm to the rising and setting of the sun.
Get sunlight in your eyes, without being inside between 9-10 am and then the twilight sunlight between 6-7 pm, depending on daylight savings. This will have a massive benefit of setting your natural circadian rhythm, try to do it regularly as much as possible over a period of a week and you will naturally find yourself yawning with and rising with the fall and rise of the sun. SLEEP HYGIENE The main things you can do to easily improve your sleep are tactics and behavior called sleep hygiene.
Just as it is important to have good oral hygiene, sleep hygiene is just as important! Here is a basic checklist for sleep hygiene, don't try to do it all at once, they are just suggestions you can incorporate over time into your daily/nightly routine.
-Try to sleep at the same time every night, as much as possible. Your body and brain need sleep to be able to heal, incorporate the day and consolidate memory
Incorporate a winding down procedure every night, this should involve non stimulating activities such as reading, a bath, a gentle walk around the block
Your room should be as dark as humanly possible, you should not be able to see to the other side of your room if you try
Try to change your lights to be dimmer as the night gets on, brighter lights will wake up your internal clock.
You can use gentle sleeping aids such as lavender oil, a hot bath, a heat pack, magnesium or the classic sleepy time teas, such as lemon balm or camomile
Try to keep your room cool, between 18-20 C, it will help aid your sleep cycle.
Your bed and pillow is vitally important to a good sleep and is entirely up to your personal preferences, make sure it's of good quality, clean and suitable for your body needs.
If you are having trouble sleeping, try to get up and walk around so you dont get rage insomnia
Avoid using your phone, laptop or watching tv in bed as this will associate your bed with other activities
Deep breathing exercises can help with getting to sleep, reducing stress and relaxing the parasympathetic nervous system
There are protocols called non sleep deep rest which can help when you are struggling to sleep or are sleepy during the day. This includes deep breathing exercises, yoga nidra and self-hypnosis
Don't be afraid of a nap! You have had a rough time and if you need to sleep, do it. TLDR - the process of going to sleep is a complicated biological cascade.
Lack of sleep and quality sleep have been studied intensively over 50 years and we know its linked to obesity, cardiovascular issues, digestive problems, cognitive functions such as learning and memory, emotional issues and healing injury
There are many different techniques and tricks you can do to get to sleep, choose which ones you like, are easy to adopt and see what works for you! I hope you find the beautiful restful, wonderful deep sleep you deserve <3