Sleep is essential for everyone, including animals. During this period a body and mind get rest. It seems, nature was created well thought – it contains all the necessary aspects for harmonious and balanced life. After the dry season, the rainy one follows; after the winter, spring comes. Similarly, twenty-four hours contains day and night, and those both periods are equally important. Unfortunately, sometimes people act against the law of nature, and therefore, are punished.
Why sleep is important?
The quality and quantity of sleep affect your mood, routine, behavior, thinking, energy levels, health and overall excellence of life.
When body and mind lack rest, first of all, a person might feel irritated, tired, sleepy, angry, anxious, lazy, depressed, mentally imbalanced, vulnerable and unstable, etc. People might not even be aware of the reason for feeling so bad, as the symptoms appearing gradually.
Eventually, mental tiredness impacts physical body where various diseases and the organ disorders are inevitable.
Well, known consequences of sleep disorders are depression, overweight, underweight, mood swings, degraded immune system, migraine, pain in various organs, heart attack, issues with blood pressure, hunger and thirst feel, etc.
The good news is – sleep is not a mystery
As the researchers state, sleep is categorized into five stages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM. It considers the characteristics of body and brain function during the sleeping condition.
However, for a regular person, it’s enough to understand three main sleeping stages – Light, Deep and rapid eye movement (REM).
Stage 1: It is a light sleep first phase you are still half awake, can hear and feel your surroundings. The brain frequency waves slightly slower compared to the awake time. Breathing is regular with the presence of muscle movement. This sleep is more irregular, shallow and not restful. In this stage
Stage 2: In the second phase of Light Sleep – You’re asleep but can be easily awoken. The brain frequency waves get slower with infrequent bursts of fast brain waves. Eyes movement stop and muscles occasionally twitch. Body temperature and heart rate begin slightly to decrease. The body and brain prepare to enter into deep sleep stage.
Stage 3 & 4: Are deep sleep stages, you become less responsive to outside surroundings. The brain frequency waves get very slow, so-called Delta waves. This sleep induces proper brain rest with less consciousness. In this stage, a person can experience talking during the dream or sleepwalking.
Deep sleep stage is a very (or I should say – most) important stage. It is a period where the magic happens, where your mind, body and all the organs relax, your batteries are charged for the upcoming day’s challenges. Our goal should be to increase time spent at this stage to improve overall mental and physical health.
This is a dreaming stage, where eyes irregularly and rapidly are moving. Breathing is irregular and erratic, heart rate increases. This stage is essential for balancing emotions and enhancing memory.
Understanding sleep cycles
Over the night, our body cycles through all of these stages multiple times for the different amount of time. It usually moves from light sleep to deep sleep, then back to light sleep and then into REM stage.
Deep sleep mostly occurs in the first cycles of the sleep, while REM in last stages closer the morning. The light sleep is a transition phase between of deep sleep and REM stages.
How much sleep is enough?
Often we hear or read that for adult eight hours of sleep is a must to have enough of rest. However, is it true?
Some people sleep ten or more hours and still, feel tired. While some sleep less than eight hours and feel energized next day. For instance, for Buddhist monks, six or fewer hours of sleep per night is enough. Why is that? The answer is – the quality of sleep is most important, not quantity!
You might sleep 10 hours and spend most of the time in light sleep stage and in the morning feeling horrible. On the other hand, if you have six hours of sleep which most of them spend in deep sleep, in the morning you would feel uplifted and full of energy.
the quality of sleep is most important, not quantity!
How to measure sleep quality?
Now, when we understand the importance of sleep, we want to improve the quality of rest. These days, most of the activity trackers have sleep logging functionality.
The sensors on the devices might monitor the heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, vibration, and body movement to calculate and find the stage and quality of the sleep.
I own Fitbit Altra HR, it’s compact and affordable wearable, and I am pretty satisfied with its sleep logging and reporting capabilities.
Strategies for improving sleep quality
We have understood about sleep and its stages. And now, when we know our current rest quality and patterns, we can try to improve it – to increase deep sleep duration.
I will list some factors which might influence your sleep quality. Personally, I was experimenting a lot with many aspects of my daily routine and habits, to increase the time spent in deep sleep stage. So far I found out that the following factors increase my rest quality:
- Limiting coffee intakes – Up to two cups per day. Latest cup 1 PM. This finding alone helped to improve my deep sleep period by 30%!
- Good sex – increases deep sleep duration significantly
- Have latest meal around 6 PM – digestion system can rest, which results in better rest
- Meditation right before sleep – helps to clear all day’s accumulated stuff out my head
I also would recommend expiring the following strategies to improve sleep quality:
- Say no to late hour meal, snacks, caffeine, cigarette, and alcohol
- Walk in the evening or after dinner
- Limit amount of drinks
- Eat Less sugar and starch
- Drink a glass of water before bed
- Decrease temperature or bedroom
- Go earlier to bed
- Have sex
I humbly encourage you to take full responsibility for your life. Promise to take care yourself and enhance your life quality. Improving sleep will help to achieve this!
I know, it’s not easy, but definitely worth it!
If you have any questions, please leave it in the comment form.
For people with severe sleep disorders should seek professional help.