Sleeping early or on time is the best way to get quality rest at night and optimize your mental and physical health. Sleep is defined as a state of reduced awareness and responsiveness.
Sleep Comprises of Two Phases:
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
- Non- REM or slow wave sleep
REM sleep is characterised by the presence of rapid eye movements during sleep. This type of sleep is less restful and is associated with dreaming and bodily muscle movements. During REM sleep a person is more likely to be aroused by external stimuli than during the Non- REM sleep. Irregular heart beat and breathing are the features of the dream state.
The brain is in a very active state during REM sleep. The electroencephalogram shows brain wave patterns resembling those that occur when a person is awake.
Non-REM sleep ischaracterisedby deep sleep. The duration of Non-Rem sleep episodes is longer earlier in thenight,when the person tends to be more tired. As one gets more rest during the night, the duration of Non-REM sleep gets shorter.During the Non- REM sleep the blood pressure, breathingandmetabolic rate are significantly low. Bodily movements do not occur during this sleep phase.
Non-Rem Sleep is also referred to as slow wave sleep, as the brain waves are very strong and of significantly low frequency. Though also called as dreamless sleep, dreams and nightmares can occur during Non-REM sleep, but they are remembered as they are consolidated to memory during this phase.
REM sleep occurs at about 90-minute intervals. There are usually 4 to 6 cycles of REM and Non-REM sleep every night. Later into the night, the REM episodes become longer and Non- REM sleepbecomeshorter and lighter.The importance of sleep is clear from the strong evolutionary conservation of sleep. Most animals have evolved in such a way that they spendconsiderableamount of time sleeping, despite sleep making us vulnerable to attack from predators.
Sleep has been considered a restorative or a recovery phase that prepares the body for the next episode of wakefulness. Cell division is more rapid during Non- REM sleep. Sleep has an important function with regard to immune system. Sleep also plays a role in development of brain cells and connections between brain cells during development. Both phases of sleep are involved in memory consolidation. It is a known fact that learning of visual information is improved during the night sleep and sleep deprivation impairs recalling of information.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
Less than 5-6 hours of sleep in a night is usually associated with symptoms of sleep deprivation. Missing out on the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep does more than feeling of grogginess and grumpiness. The long-term side effects of sleep deprivation are real. It weakens your mental abilities and puts your physical health at great risk. Science has linked poor sleep with obesity, tiredness, uncontrolled hunger levels, poor immunity, impaired memory retention, and early death. Sleep Foundations across the world recommend 7-8 hours of good quality sleep for adults. Sleeping early is the only way to get recommended 7-8 hours of sleep. So how does one sleep on time, when your body has been so much in tune to staying up late?
Let Us Look at a Five-Step Guide to Help You Sleep Early:
Scheduling Your Sleep Does Help
Make a sincere effort to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. This establishes a regular sleep-wake pattern. Adopting the habit of doing the same things each night before sleeping like a warm bath or reading certainly helps in establishing a pattern. Being consistent in your habits can fo a long way to establishing and adhering to a strict sleep schedule. Of course, it is not as easy as it seems as life often gets in the way but consistent and conscious efforts can be the answer to your sleep problems.
Say No to Stimulants!
Caffeine, nicotine, and chocolates can keep you awake way past your snooze time. Understanding not only what these substances do to your sleep cycle but also when and how much of it can be consumed during the day is an important aspect of regulating your sleeping habits. Alcohol can initially seem to aid in sleeping but later into the night may disturb your sleep. Staying away from stimulants at least four hours beforebed timesurely helps you have a peaceful, disruption-free sleep.
Comfy Bed, Oh Yes!
A number of new mattresses are designed to increase comfort and coolness. Memory Foam, organic latex mattresses made from natural materials, Gel-infused foam, hybrids – the number of choices seem endless. However, behind every technology upgrade is a brand investing heavily in R&D to provide their customers with a soothing sleeping experience. You can also use dark blinds, ear plugs, soothing music, and other tools to create a restful environment.
Regular Exercise, a Plus!
Being physically active helps you fall asleep faster. Exercise promotes deeper and more restful slumber. A word of caution though, do not exercise too close to bedtime, as it can leave you too invigorated to fall asleep. A good timeline would be not to exercise anywhere between two-three hours of sleep. It also depends on how intense your workouts are.Light, mindful movement exercises like yoga or tai-chi can help you further relax at night.
Apps for Sleep
There are apps designed to help you sleep better. Sleep Genius tracks your sleep cycles. The app’s efforts were recognized by NASA’s publication, Spinoff. Other apps like Pzizz provide soft music and sounds to encourage peaceful sleep. Podcasts like Sleepy are ingenious ways to combine ASMR with audiobook experiences. Many apps come connected to your smartphones and smartwatches which measures and provides daily sleep data so you can see how well you sleep every night.
Research has shown that getting consistent good quality seven to eight hours of sleep every night is beneficial to your health. Anything less or more can be the reason for a variety of ailments like Diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, and early death. Maintaining a regular sleep routine, preparation for sleep, a comfortable bed, and noise free environment are key elements for a disturbance-free, peaceful siesta.