Sleep Promotes Healing from Surgery

“Get Some Rest”

I’m sure you’ve heard people say to the wounded, “just try to get some rest.”  How right they are.  Getting ample amounts of sleep improves the healing process as well as promotes emotional and mental alertness and wellness in several ways:

  1. Rest supports the immune system, strengthening the body’s natural defenses against infection and disease—a critical component of healing.
  2. Solid sleep promotes anabolic processes, or the renewal of tissue in the body, such as cell division and protein synthesis.  When recovering from surgery or healing from an injury, there is an increase in the level of anabolic activity required as the new tissue requirement exceeds the constant demand for normal cell replenishment.
  3. Maintaining a soothing and quiet environment can ease symptoms of depression and increases concentration.
  4. Proper sleep can help balance one’s metabolism, making better use of available calories and maintain weight.

The list continues, yet clearly we can see there is great value attributed to healthy sleep habits and healing and healthy lifestyle.  One of the greatest challenges those in recovery face is the inability to get to sleep. Whether it’s the medications prescribed, a worrying mind about missed activities or work, or simply restless legs from being cooped up.

Several studies have demonstrated that restful sleep can be achieved through meditative practices, such as focusing on the present and avoiding reactions to thoughts that enter the mind can help even the most restless patient find peaceful sleep.

“Just Breathe”

“Just breathe.”  Famous last words of a well-intentioned father as his partner is in labor.  But, especially in the case of abdominal surgery, post-birth, or chest cavity surgery, focusing on proper, even breathing helps gently strengthen core abdominal muscles meanwhile oxygenating the bloodstream—all of which promotes healing.

Depending on the type of recovery, some doctors will instruct breathing exercises which include deep breathing and holding one’s breath for a brief period, then exhaling through one’s mouth.  Such exercises again strengthen the core abdominal muscles, aid in flexibility, and as a byproduct, can be calming to a nervous patient.

The more modern medicine advances, the greater the understanding of the healing power of the body, so adopting techniques like those above in conjunction with the prescribed post-op therapies and medication will help support healthy, speedy recovery.

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