Total Health

Top ways to improve sleep quality and recovery

March 30th, 2021 by
Category: Dr. Jefferson Gutierrez Health & Wellbeing Sleep

man sleeping in bed side position

Sleep is a very important aspect in our lives that we sometimes take for granted. Having quality sleep and a solid 7-8 hours is essential for our bodies to function and recover optimally. If the body does not get quality sleep and enough hours, this can lead to negative affects to our cognitive and physical performance in the short term and long term.

Stages of sleep

There are four stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1In this stage, the body transitions from being awake to asleep. In this short span, our muscles begin to relax and our body functions begin to slow down. This includes our heart rate, breathing and eye movements.
  • Stage 2At this stage, the body falls into a light sleep. During this stage, our muscles relax and our heartbeat slows even more. We spend most of our sleep in this state.
  • Stage 3 In the third stage, our body enters deep sleep. Deep sleep is important because it gives you that feeling of waking up refreshed in the morning. Brain waves become slower, your heartbeat reaches its lowest and your muscles are relaxed. 
  • Stage 4Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep happens about one hour to an hour and a half after you fall sleep. This stage is where you experience vivid dreams.

Throughout the night, your body cycles through stage 2, 3 and 4.

How does sleep aid in recovery?

During sleep, our body releases hormones that help with the growth and repair of our muscles, as well as bone development. 

Training or working out causes stress to the muscles. This can then lead to micro-tears in the muscle which causes an inflammatory response. This response triggers the release of hormones to repair the damaged muscles which results in an adaptation to the muscle which increases its size. Most of these functions are happening when you sleep.

Sleep can also help you recover when you are sick. This is because the body’s immune system performs at its best when you are asleep.

What happens when you do not get enough sleep?

Short term effects

Short term effects when you don’t get enough sleep or quality sleep includes a negative impact on your cognitive function – such as your ability to think and memorize information. It can also impact your response to stress which can make you feel more stressed easily. Mood, pain, anxiety and performance is also negatively affected, which can lead to overall reduction of quality of life.

Long term effects

Some long term effects due to lack of sleep, and/or sleep quality include:

  • Increased risk of hypertension
  • Weight gain
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Diabetes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Cardiovascular disease

What are some ways to improve sleep quality and recovery?

1. Good sleep hygiene

Developing good sleep hygiene is a great way to improve your sleep quality and recovery.

This includes incorporating a sleep routine, limiting screen time and developing a sleep-inducing environment. 

Having a sleep routine can help set your body clock. By having a specific time for going to bed and waking up can help with your sleep as your body gets used to time it needs to go to bed. This can help with falling asleep easier.

Limiting your screen time is another way of improving your sleep as it can affect your circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a process in which your body recognises light as a cue for our sleep-wake cycle. So by limiting screen time an hour before bed can help induce a sleepy state for our brain to wind down.

Create a sleep inducing environment in your room by dimming the lights, eliminating any screens and having the right temperature. By doing these things, it helps set the body’s mood for sleep.

2. Bed and pillow

Having the right pillow and bed can play a big role in being comfortable to help your body fall asleep. A good pillow and bed puts your body in good alignment to help improve your sleep and also wake up with no aches or pains. 

At Total Health Chiropractic, we sell a high quality pillow to help with your sleep – whether you are a back or side sleeper – which comes with various ways of customisation. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep.

3. Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening

Although alcohol can help people fall asleep due to its sedative properties, it reduces quality as the body does not get enough deep sleep. Relying on alcohol to fall asleep builds up a tolerance which may result in you drinking more to feel sleepy, causing disruptions to your sleep cycle. This can also cause feelings of tiredness the day after.

Caffeine stimulates your brain which makes it hard for you to fall asleep. Caffeine should not be taken within 6 hours before sleep.


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