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We often hear how important getting a good night’s rest and managing stress levels are for our bodies, but how exactly do they help and why are they so important during the recovery period of an injury? 

What’s the deal with a good night’s sleep & what happens when we sleep?

Sleep provides our body with a vital opportunity to heal both physically and mentally. This is due to the many different chemical and physiological reactions which occur within the body. The main role of sleep in injury recovery is to facilitate the growth of new healthy tissue. 

When falling asleep the brain signals the release of large amounts of growth hormones; such as Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone. These hormones, which are highest in concentration during deep sleep, are responsible for building new proteins to replace the injured cells in muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. Growth Hormones are released during stage 5 in the sleep cycle (commonly known as REM sleep), which occurs approximately every 90-120 minutes. So, the more hours of sleep we get, the more opportunity our bodies have to access these healing hormones.

Did you know- A single night of sleep deprivation can affect the releasing of hormones which can slow the repair process by as much as 18%.

So how important is it that I manage my stress levels? 

When you’re stressed your body releases a hormone called Cortisol. Loosely speaking, Cortisol is the opposite of Human Growth Hormone. Cortisol is responsible for breaking down tissues in the body to be used for energy, this can also include breaking down proteins. Since proteins are necessary in tissue healing, high levels of Cortisol delay injury recovery.

Did you know- Sleep acts as an organic elixir and naturally lowers the levels of Cortisol in the body, which in turn allows growth hormones to rebuild injured tissues. 

Tips for a better night’s sleep/ promoting good sleep hygiene:

  • Reduce exposure to blue lights before bed, e.g. phones, computers, TV.
  • Participate in regular exercise, 3-4 x week.
  • Avoid caffeine/alcohol 4-6hrs before bed.
  • Reduce/avoid irregular or long day time naps.
  • Maintain a good routine, wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Avoid very rigorous exercise immediately before bed.
  • Develop a wind down routine before bed, e.g. bath, reading, skin care routine.

Tips for managing stress: 

  • Practice meditation and mindfulness, consider trialing apps like ‘Calm’ or online yoga.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. On average adults require 7-9hr per night.
  • Participate in regular exercise you enjoy.
  • Complete deep breathing exercises. 
  • Write to-do lists to quiet an active mind.
  • Ensure you have a nutritious diet.
  • Make time for your hobbies.

For more information contact The Physio Clinic on 8342 1233 or click below to book online.


By Angela Zerella | Senior Physiotherapist Marryatville


Lamon, S., Morabito, A., Arenston-Lantz, E., Knowles, O. et al, 2021, The Effect of Acute Sleep Deprivation on Skeletal Muscle Protein Synthesis and the Hormonal Environment, Physiology Rep., 101-118.