Gather round for a Comfi Cuddle with Dan Halliday, physiotherapist, father of three and MD of UniSports Physio in Auckland, as we chat all things sleep and recovery.
Dan forms part of our expert team that helped in developing our Comfi beds, to ensure the best sleep of your life. Let’s get Comfi shall we…
What was the thing that drew you to physiotherapy as a career?
In my early teens, I started to have some exposure to physiotherapy due to getting banged up playing whatever sport I could. I started to see it as a profession that would allow me to assist and interact with people, whilst at the same time, had the potential to be involved in a sporting environment. As well as a strong interest in sport, I was interested in how the body moved. Once my own visions of a sporting career started to slide away, I shifted focus to studying physiotherapy and aimed towards being part of a professional sports team, not as an athlete, rather supporting the athletes.
You've worked with a lot of sportspeople over the years, what are some of the most common misunderstandings people have regarding recovery from both injuries and general fitness?
One of the more common things I get asked by patients is “How do sports people recover so quickly from injuries?”. There are a lot of factors involved but I am a strong believer that the relationship between recovery and sleep has a major part to play in this. Athletes are always looking for the tool that might give them the edge in this space, but a good, regular, consistent night’s sleep works as well as any I have come across.
So let’s talk about sleep then... how important is it for people wanting to improve their overall fitness level? Why is this so?
Recovery is so very important when it comes to improving physical function and even more so for people wanting to exercise more and increase their fitness levels. Training hard asks a lot of your body, you can have all the best fitness equipment, but if you aren’t equipped at home, then something will give and generally this can lead to injuries. Review your bed! If your bed is more than 8 years old, it would have deteriorated by 75%. We know that a new bed can give you almost an extra hour’s sleep, but be patient as it may take 4-6 weeks to bed in.
What would you say is the one thing people get wrong when it comes to sleep?
Developing a consistent routine is fundamental to a good night’s sleep. Just as sitting at your desk is a posture, so is sleeping. Humans love rhythm and routine. Try and stick to the best rhythm and routine to get the best out of your sleep. As humans our bodies love going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. It seems so simple but not always so easy to do in practice. Set aside time in your day for a bedtime routine and try to wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekend.
What are some of the most common injuries or acute conditions you see as a result of poor sleep?
Spinal pain, most commonly the neck or cervical spine, often caused by poor sleep position, or incorrect equipment for that sleep position, like a pillow or mattress, or both.
Conversely, what are some of the most common conditions that could be improved on by having the right mattress and/or pillow?
If you have an area of your body that is sore during the night or feels worse when you wake up, then chances are your sleep set-up needs to be addressed. Even subtle changes in pillow type/shape and mattress depth can be game changing. I see a lot of lumbar spine/hip pain that is aggravated whilst in bed, talking to the patient around sleep positioning/equipment and making some alterations to this, can reduce a lot of aggravation.
Tell us about your bedtime routine and sleep environment?
Once we have sorted our 3 children into their routine and got them down, my daily routine is simple. I like to avoid caffeine; I try and stay away from TV after 9.30. I always shower and then listen to a podcast which I normally need to start again the next day as I will be asleep halfway through!
What Comfi mattress do you have and have you noticed a difference in your quality of sleep and overall wellbeing since using it?
We are on a Comfi Supernatural Firm and it is awesome. We have spent a bit of time away from home over summer. I always take my pillow with me wherever I go, but I certainly missed the mattress which is a little harder to travel with! There is nothing quite like returning to a Comfi after a few weeks on tired bedding!
The strangest dream you've had of late?
I have had a recurring dream for years about a long ladder and an old tree. I hadn’t had it for a while, but it was back last week. I can never quite climb the ladder to make the tree and am petrified of looking down which always wakes me up! I am not sure exactly what it is all about, but I am sure that someone out there will tell me it means something!
Shop our two ranges of Comfi mattresses, The Natural and Supernatural here. If you can help Dan interpret his recurring dream, or if you need help with that persistent neck or shoulder pain, you can find him here.