When we think about being well-rested, we usually think about the average 8 hours of sleep. While the number of hours is important, you should also focus on the quality of sleep.
There are four stages of sleep:
When you first start to doze off. This stage lasts for only a few minutes. At this time, the body still hasn’t fully relaxed, but brain activity starts to slow down. It’s very easy to wake someone up in this state
Your body temperature starts to slightly drop and muscles become more relaxed, along with slowed heart rate and breathing. At this time your brain starts to produce bursts of brainwave activity called “sleep spindles”. It is thought that during this time your brain processes and filters all the information acquired during the day
also known as “deep sleep”. Researchers believe that this stage of sleep is crucial for physical recovery and growth. Some studies have shown that getting enough deep sleep helps boost the immune system as well. Despite the reduction in brain activity, there has been evidence that this stage of sleep may help with insightful thinking, better memory, and increased creativity.
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During this stage, brain activity is almost the same as when you’re awake, and this is why we usually experience vivid dreams. At this time your body muscles are temporarily immobilized (mostly to keep you from acting out your dreams). Generally, REM sleep stage accounts for about 25% of your sleep.
How to have a healthier sleeping pattern?
- Having a consistent sleeping schedule in line with your circadian rhythm is critical. Try not to break your schedule even on the weekends
- Getting enough natural daylight and exercise can contribute to a healthy sleeping regimen
- Reducing caffeine consumption throughout the day and not eating a heavy meal a few hours before bed can better sleep quality
- Try to keep your bedroom temperature around 18-22 degrees
Possible risks associated with lack of deep sleep
- Chronic pain is stronger when there is a serious lack of deep sleep. Studies have shown that after deep sleep rhythms improved, the intensity of pain reduced
- Children who do not get enough deep sleep have reduced hormone production that regulates growth
- Lowered immune function
Getting a good night's rest is vital for general well-being. If you you think that your sleeping issues can't be helped with simple lifestyle adjustments then talk to your medical caregiver about your concerns.