Sleep - the restless issue
Like food and water, a good nights rest is vital for a well functioning body. Unfortunately this has become a growing problem as at least 1/3 of adults either have trouble falling asleep or wake up more than once during the night. Over a long period of time, the effects can be harmful to your body.
Falling asleep should be easy as the bodies own internal clock “the Circadian rhythm” regulates our pattern with the sleep-wake cycle, much like the earths 24hr rotation. This process responds primarily to the light of the day and night, much like nature. Changes like jet lag, depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD)can affect the rhythm and the way we sleep.
During the night the body goes through a "sleep cycle" consisting of 5 stages, 1-4 being non-REM before moving into REM. Each stage in the cycle may last anywhere from 45-90 minutes before the process is repeated itself . The interruption during the night will often leave you feeling tired and unrested.
During stages 1-2, the bodies temperature will decreases along with the relaxation of the heart and muscles and virtually all eye movement stopping as the body starts to wind down.
Stages 3-4 , the body is heading towards Deep sleep. This is where the breathing and brain activity becomes its slowest along with truly muscles. This stage is what you need to feel refreshed for the next day and is also known as “slow wave sleep” (SWS).
Stages 5 ,is where REM (rapid eye movement) will occur. Here the bodies brain activity will start to increased along with blood pressure and as the phase suggest, the eyes will start to move rapidly from side to side. Memories will also be consolidated, blood pressure increase and the body feeling immobilised , all occur during the REM stage. Most of all the brain will produces very vivid dreams.
Reaching the REM sleep is vital and essential to achieving a good night sleep. It can make up to 20-25% of a 7-8 hour sleep.
We should aim for between 7-9 hours sleep per night, but what’s also important is the quality of your sleep. During this period the body;
- the regenerating of cells occurs
-increase blood supply to the muscles
-promote and repair tissue and bone
-aid in the strengthening of the immune system -hormones are released and energy stores are replenished.
Day to day benefits are more noticeable with improvements in; -athletic and physical performance.
-improve concentration, cognitive and productive performance -enhance memory -tend to eat fewer calories -better social and emotional interactions
The bodies ability to perform the easiest of task will deteriorate due to the lack of a good rest or sleep, other affects can be more damaging; -Alzheimers disease -depression -increased risk of weight gain and obesity -greater risk of heart disease -adverse affect on blood sugar leaving to an increase in type 2 diabetes.
-Inflammation: long term damage to cells in the digestive tract,
Our activities throughout the day can improve/damage our sleep. Physical exercise will tire you out and is a plus, but drinking alcohol, may cause you to fall asleep, but the length and quality will be severely diminished. So in order to get a better night rest try to establish a routine by; -going to bed around the same time each night and also waking up the next day at a similar time.
cut down on alcohol and caffeine drinks (5 hours before bed), drink more water to avoid dehydration.
avoid high sugar foods
become more physically active, it helps if you are tired.
banish bright lights from the bedroom
avoid your computer/phone 30 minutes before bed -read a book -cool the room down, 18 degrees or below.
If you are having trouble falling a sleep, get out and read in another cooler room.
turn the pillow over so it’s cooler.
We spend a 3rd of our lives sleeping so the lack of it will have a major impact on the other 2/3rds. Whether it’s the pressure from the modern day lifestyle or a physiological imbalance, the repercussions can be life threatening and should be addressed as soon as possible.
I do notice when I’ve had a great nights rest, this is rear as I tend to only get 6-6.5 hours sleep per night. Falling asleep has never been a problem, I just can't sleeping in..
Sleep is so under rated, its sometimes viewed as inconvenient. However, it should be viewed and respected as a very important part of our 24 hour cycle and 8 hours reserved for the restorative good it does.