The success of a stroke patients rehabilitation plan is heavily dependent on sleep.
Sleep is when the body recovers and repairs. Just like the elite athlete respects their bodies need for sleep, so should the stroke survivor participating in vigorous rehabilitation. The brain requires adequate rest to help it recover. This may contradict the current methodology of most rehabilitation facilities where patients may be artificially stimulated through medication and exercises in accordance to the therapists schedule, despite their own tiredness. Learn to listen to your body. Treatment should begin when you are ready for it and stop when you are tired.
I often say to patients ‘we want to exercise the brain, not exhaust it’. Think about it like getting a sun tan. The correct amount of sun stimulates a change in the body for the desired result. Too much sun results in a burn, the bodies sign that it could not handle the stress you placed upon it.
APPLYING THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP TO STROKE PATIENTS
1. Sleep and Memory.
Research at Harvard Medical School tested whether sleep helps consolidate memories. The results of their studies showed that sleep actively helps the brain digest memories from recently learned facts or working memory (short term memory).
Participants in the study who did not sleep between learning and testing performed poorer on the recall of new words they had learned than those who had slept. Sleeping in between therapy can allow the stroke patient to absorb information performed during their rehabilitation.
2. Sleep strengthens the brain
Psychologist found some benefits during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, which happens between the 6th and 8th hour of sleep often when dreaming starts. REM sleep produces sleep spindles – these are 1-2 second bursts of brain waves at high frequencies. These sleep spindles allow the brain to store new information into long-term memory.
The brain, during REM sleep, will transfer short-term memories from one area of the brain to another, to become long-term memories. Sleep spindles are transmitted as the memory part of the brain processes the new information and starts storing it in long-term memory. Also during this time, neurotransmitters, the chemicals your brain uses for functions such as remembering, problem solving and performance are replenished.
3. Decrease risk of another stroke with sleep
Research done at the University of Chicago concluded that patients with diabetes and high blood pressure who suffered a stroke may decrease their risk of another stroke by increasing the amount of sleep they get.
We have all felt the benefits of a good nights sleep. Take advantage of the powerful recovery powers of sleep during your stroke rehabilitation program to make the most of your recovery. How much sleep on average are you currently getting? Leave your comments below.