|Most of us at some point think about how to sleep better. Sleep is a resting state of body. It can be distinguished from the active or awake state by reduced body actions and reactions. All mammals sleep, with two phases of sleep non-REM and REM sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) is the stronger deep sleep phase with deeper dreams. A person on an average requires 7 hours of sleep. Sleep is not a passive state of mind and body as previously thought. It is in fact a quite active mind state when all of the day’s happenings processed, energy is restored and body is replenished. Over the past some decades, artificial lighting has significantly altered the sleep timing patterns in humans.
Stages Of Sleep
Humans have stages of sleep, with every stage holding its own characteristics. We shift from one sleep cycle to another that last approximately 90 minutes each. These cycles includes stages of REM, NREM and awakening. Sleep proceeds from stages of NREM and REM, and generally in this repeating 4-5 times a night. The awakening stage may occur after REM and before the next NREM. These stages of sleep are essential to understanding how to sleep better. Each of the 3 sleeping stages have a physiological function that results in sleep. The stages of sleep are
- NREM Sleep – Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep – As we go to sleep slowly, the body activity slows down on its own. Blood pressure, breathing, body temperature, heart beating, and energy usage all begin to decrease slowly. The brain functioning gets slower, and body reflexes do remain somewhat active. Non-REM sleep makes up about 70-80% of total sleep.
- REM Sleep – Rapid Eye Movement – REM Sleep which is deep sleep, comprises only about 20–25% of total sleep in humans. This happens after the NREM stage. After entering REM stage, body muscles get paralyzed. Body heart rate, temperature and breathing gets unregulated as the person starts to dream. As per research brain arousal, activity and oxygen consumption increases compared to when a person is awake. We may spend about 2 hours in REM sleep a day.
- Awakening – Awakening stage happens at the end of sleep or after the finish of a dream in the REM stage. During the sleep, it is a small moment in time when the body readjust the sleeping position after surveying the environment before sleeping again. A person may wake up after REM stage or in the middle of it too by a strong dream like nightmare.
Sleep Requirement By Body
Generally a person’s need to sleep gets stronger as he keeps awake longer. The body needs to maintain balance between active and passive periods and, between light and dark periods. Lack of sleep is called sleep deprivation, which causes the brain to have shortened attention spans, higher levels of anxiety, impaired memory functions, and an irritable mood. Sleep deprivation also affects learning capabilities which is why people should know how to sleep better.
A person should time his/her sleep according to body rhythms, and should atleast 6-7 hours before the lowest body temperature levels which leads to deep sleep. Unless this happens the satisfaction of sleep does not happen and it seems inefficient and inadequate. Which is why people who sleep during the day don’t feel they have slept enough even after 7-8 hours. This disturbing of sleep cycle is bad for health.
Sleep requirements change as we age. Compared to 15-17 hour sleep needs for a newborn child, the adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep at night and the aged person above 65 years may need 7-8 hours only. Sleep need decreases as we age. All different research studies’ data correlates that, for maximum longevity a person should sleep for over 7 hours daily at night with complete darkness and cool temperature in the room.
Benefits of sleep
A good night’s deep sleep is highly recommended since time memorial and is understood to be beneficial for good health. Several people who suffer from sleep disorders, find it tough to sleep well, so the doctors try to help them on how to sleep better. Though new research is continuously happening on the benefits of sleep, some well known benefits are :
- During deep sleep, most humans controlled systems are off and everything happens at cellular and organ level. So at this time a person’s body during sleep is busy recovering, replenishing the energy, immune system, cleansing nervous system, strengthening skeletal system, and resting and repairing muscular systems.
- While asleep, the human mind is busy strengthening memories or skills learned that when we were awake also called consolidation.
- Longer sleep habits increase longevity in a person. Optimum longevity levels were found in people who slept a little over 7 hours daily.
- Wound healing becomes faster and better with good sleeping habits. The reason for this is higher release of the high growth hormone during deep sleep.
- Body is able to clear metabolic waste better and in more efficient way while it sleeps than when it’s awake.
- Proper sleep leads to a calmer attitude in a person. Sleep deprivation cause irritability, and people begins to lose control over his moods, also can cause behavioral problems over longer term, permanent sleep disruption, decreased brain mass on account of increased brain cell death.
- Numerous studies by scientists relate sleep to good memory. Good sleep keeps brain active leading to good decision making and better reasoning. Sleep deprivation may cause memory functions to decline by as much as 40%.
- Deep sleep causes lesser levels of inflammation which may be sign of arthritis, health disease, stroke and premature aging. Those suffering from sleep apnea should learn how to sleep better.
- Better sleep leads to better creativity levels in the brain. This is true for artists who generally need to sleep well to have their creativity flowing.
- Those who sleep well tend to have better attention spans, that result in better learning of skills and retaining them.
The following infographic should help anyone who wishes to learn how to sleep better and have a good sleep. It discusses methods and tips that one can follow to ensure they get deep sleep for good health.