They say that we spend a third of our lives asleep. Are we able to say to ourselves, however, that we spend this third of our lives in a satisfactory, productive and fulfilling manner? Or do we sometimes find ourselves not sleeping well, at all, and wishing that we could find a way to ensure that we get ourselves properly rested and revitalized for the long and stressful day ahead of us?
Perhaps it is by understanding and knowing what kind of sleeping habits people have, and just exactly how people develop such habits, that we can all finally catch that elusive good night’s rest that we all desire and need.
Science of Your Sleep – The Difference Between REM and Non-REM Sleep
An improved understanding of sleep will most definitely allow us to maximize our sleeping habits and tendencies in order to give us better, more restful slumbers. Before we can get a better understanding of our sleep habits, however, we first need to know what actually happens while we sleep. When we sleep, we don’t sleep in one continuous, large block of sleep. In fact, we actually experience two stages of sleeping , these being REM sleep and non-REM sleep.
REM is also known as “Rapid Eye Movement” and is the phase of sleep that can be easily categorized as the stage during which the sleeper’s eyes undergo bursts of random movement. It is during the REM stage of sleeping that we experience our most vivid and memorable dreams. During this time, our physical movements and body activity are “turned off” by our brain to ensure that we do not unconsciously act out our dreams in real life, which might lead to potentially harmful and even fatal consequences.
Before we experience REM sleep, however, we usually have to go through non-REM sleep first. Non-REM sleep is actually further divided into four different stages, with the last two stages being popularly known as “deep sleep”. While we experience non-REM sleep, our body repairs itself and recuperates, releasing hormones that help strengthen and replenish the body’s resources and fortify it against the strain and toll imposed upon it by the previous day’s activities.
An ideal and uninterrupted sleep cycle of REM and non-REM sleep actually occurs multiple times throughout a single night. First, non-REM sleep occurs, going through stages 1 to 4, followed by REM sleep, and afterwards completed with another non-REM sleeping cycle. This time, however, the non-REM cycle is experienced through stages 4 to 1, in descending order. The cycle then repeats itself, more frequently with the non-REM stage becoming quicker while the REM stage becomes longer, thus allowing the experience of more and more vivid dreams throughout the night and a restful sleep.
Sleeping in Your Style
The art of getting a satisfying and reinvigorating good night’s sleep is something that is actually very complicated and difficult to master. For instance, there is actually no singular answer as to how many hours of sleep your body needs in order to replenish itself. The magical sleep number is different for everyone and sleeping a bit too less, or even sleeping a bit too much, may just leave you unsatisfied, groggy, and even more tired than you felt before you went to bed. You may not realize it, but even your diet can play a major role in determining the quality and quantity of sleep that you can get.
Sleeping by the Hour and by the Bite
O to 2 Hours
If you find that you only get about 2 hours or less of sleep, then you are what can be considered as a very, very short type of sleeper. Though there are some cases of people only requiring an hour and a half of sleep before they wake up fully replenished and rested, these cases are rare and most of the time, people getting this small amount of sleep only do so because of their particular circumstances. Whether it is a student pulling an all-nighter to study for exams or an office worker trying to finish an important project, we often find ourselves compelled to limit the amount of sleep we can enjoy so that we may attend to “more important” things.
However, it is extremely important to note that this type of sleeper is usually the type that is most vulnerable to developing diabetes and obesity. This is due to the fact that lack of sleep will disrupt how your body normally uses insulin and moderates your blood sugar. Lack of sleep will also cause your body to release hormones that cause stress, lead to a greatly increased appetite, and hinder your metabolism and your ability to burn away the calories.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps toward remedying this problem. One particularly effective strategy would be to modify your diet to include more antioxidants which contribute to your body’s overall health. Consuming fruits and vegetables instead of unhealthy junk food as snacks will immensely assist in augmenting your antioxidant count. Also, in a more general sense, it is important to view sleep as an equal, if not even higher, priority than all the other things you have to attend to in your everyday life. You should give sleep the proper attention and time it truly deserves, knowing that your personal health and physical and mental performance are at stake.
2 to 6 Hours
Though sleeping 2 to 6 hours might seem much better than sleeping 0 to 2 hours, this amount of time dedicated to sleep is still too short and too inadequate to provide the rest that your body actually requires. In fact, sleeping for 2 to 6 hours often leads to the highest calorie consumption among all other sleep types and poses the highest risk of heart disease. Even short sleepers who were not originally overweight and were, relatively, in shape, are still almost twice as likely to experience a stroke or a heart attack.
Adding vitamin C and selenium to your diet should be an easy and accessible option that will help reduce instances of inflammation and strengthen you against sicknesses. As always, it is essential to remember that the amount of hours you get for sleeping is extremely important to your health, and even taking away just an hour or two can add up and have a greatly negative effect on your health.
9 or more Hours
Believe it or not, there is actually something as getting too much sleep! In fact, most of the time, many people will oversleep during weekends to “make up” for the lost hours of sleep during weekdays. However, oversleeping often produces unsatisfactory results, with someone waking up still groggy and fatigued, despite their belief that the extra hours of sleep should have solved their sleep issues. Sometimes, people will even prompt and force themselves to sleep more with the notion that an extra hour or two of sleep, even though it is clear that their bodies have had enough, will be good for their health.
Oversleepers should be attentive of the fact that constant oversleeping and sleeping multiple times throughout the day, but still not being satisfied and rested with your sleep might be a sign of hypothyroidism. This occurs when your thyroid does not produce the necessary hormones that facilitate a satisfying rest and may induce extra fatigue, disrupted metabolism, or limited energy.
The problem with oversleeping is that it will usually cause a disconnection between your body clock and your sleeping cycle. This means that you do not sleep or stay awake when your body needs you to sleep or stay awake and vice versa. Be sure not to accumulate a “debt” of sleep hours to avoid needing to oversleep. You should also try to include more choline in the food that you eat to prevent the occurrence of hypothyroidism and such can be found in foods such as eggs.
7 ½ to 8 Hours
Sleeping between 7 ½ to 8 hours on a regular basis can be generally considered the ideal sleeping set-up. Though this number might not be true for everyone, it is true enough for most people and being able to sleep consistently at this length usually means, for one thing, that the person’s diet is well-balanced and can be taken as proof that the necessary nutrients and minerals are adequately consumed . It may also be understood to signify that the person’s body is properly hydrated. People who sleep between 7 ½ to 8 hours may also be presumed to have a firm grasp of the importance of sleep and to harbor an effective understanding of it that is manifested in satisfactory, restful, and adequate sleeping experiences. If you find yourself fitting this description, then you don’t have to change anything, just keep on sleeping the way you’ve been sleeping!
Simple & Natural Ways to Sleep Better
Now you know the science of sleeping better, below are some tips to assist you with your sleep. If you are having transient insomnia, these tips can help you to sleep better.
Simple Massage Technique – First lay on your stomach. Next, have your loved ones using his finger or palm making circular movements beginning from the bottom of your spin and working up to the base of your neck. Repeat this for a few minutes and before you know it, you may have already fallen asleep.
Avoid uses of devices, computers, gadgets, or any work related stuffs that can make you stressful at least 2 hours before going to bed. Even for casual reading, it’s best to avoid using them at least 1 hour before bed.
Caffeine – If you are a coffee drinker, avoid drinking coffee after mid-day as it takes 6 hours for caffeine to be fully processed. Hence your last caffeinated drink should best be before 3pm.
Remember, there is no singular or specific way, number, or method for you to achieve the most restful and fulfilled sleep for yourself. The best approach would be for you to be constantly aware and vigilant of your eating habits, priorities, and sleeping needs so that you can consistently achieve a good and desirable rest that both your body and mind deserve.
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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