Thursday, 3 October 2013

The Sleep Cycle

The pressures of life, work and family often prevent us from getting not only the proper amount of sleep, but making our way through the different sleep cycles. Sleep isn’t really complete body downtime. While you physically rest your brain and autonomous nervous system goes into an automatic housekeeping phase, kind of like the auto updates features on your phone or computer. This is when some internal maintenance occurs to file new information, like what you learned today. Discard old stuff that you probably won’t need. Well, your brain actually just refiles things not in regular use, you never really discard anything. Without proper hours of restorative sleep you will not be able to function as effectively in anything you do. For most people at bedtime, the previous day’s events are all just jumbled like a pile of laundry. Sleep is the secret that sorts and files all that information for you. Without that sleep time you will find it difficult to learn new things, create something, or communicate effectively. Too little sleep time can actually lead to serious mental issues and physical breakdown.

The good news is you don’t have to choose between being productive and getting enough sleep. Most people find after as few as five days of getting longer restful sleep they are more productive. Their energy levels have risen, and they are getting more done than the week before when they were sleeping less to have more time. It’s a reverse effect. Sleep more be more productive.

Here’s a few tips that you need to get to bed sooner.

You need an alarm clock. You hit the snooze button. Feel foggy, slow to get started. Get sleepy in meetings or warm rooms. Get drowsy when driving. Have a downtime in the afternoon or trouble concentrating. Fall asleep reading or watching TV. Sleep in on weekends.

Get enough sleep and your eyes will pop open in the morning and you will have the energy for a full day.

There is more to sleep than just physical downtime and improving your energy levels.  We go into a series of repeating stages throughout the night. It’s why the time is so important. Coming out of the wrong stage is much harder.

We start at N1 for about five minutes after closed eyes your muscle activity drops and your eyes move slowly in the Transition to Sleep. Here you are easily disturbed or awakened. Until you move into the N2 stage.

In N2, Light sleep, you are entering true sleep for about 10-25 minutes, Eye movement stops, the heart rate slows and body temperature starts to drop. And you move into N3.

Now at N3 you are in deep sleep and will stay at this level for more than an hour. You are difficult to awaken, and if awoken, you will feel groggy and disoriented. You brain waves are very slow as blood is being directed into the muscles for rebuilding and repair and away from your brain.  After this you move into Rem sleep.

REM is the dream sleep. It starts about 70-90 minutes after falling asleep and you start to dream. The blood is now back into your brain and your heart rate and blood pressure have increased. Your eyes are moving back and forth rapidly beneath your eyelids giving this stage its name; Rapid Eye Movement or REM. And at this point, your arms and legs have become paralyzed. But Rem sleep last only a short time, averaging less than 30 minutes. Then the cycle starts again. You move from Rem to N1, N2, N3 to Rem … all night long. Ideally you want to wake up between Rem and N1 that is when you are most refreshed.
The average adult needs 7.5 to 9 hours sleep to get 5-6 complete cycles per night.

If one of the factors keeping you from proper sleep is a bad mattress maybe you should look into a Plasmabed. With a 60 day trial and a 20 year warranty your brain and body will thank you. 

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