Sleep is a constantly recurring event characterized by reduced or absent consciousness. A state of relatively reduced sensory activity, Sleep is believed to be as important as being awake. It is the time where both the body and the mind recuperate from all the stress it has experienced throughout the day. Get all the info you need here.
How Sleep Works
A person’s sleep can be affected by a lot of factors one of these factors includes the circadian rhythm. The sleep-wake homeostasis or the circadian clock controls the sleep timing. It may have the greatest significance and greatest effect on the sleep of an individual. Sleep timing means the time you sleep and the time you wake up.
The circadian clock is also an inner timekeeper, temperature controller, and an enzyme regulator. It is the rhythm that determines the ideal time for a person’s restorative sleep and rests. It works together with a neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting bodily processes involving wakefulness. Our circadian rhythm is commonly affected by poor sleeping habits such as overnight shifts, shifting time zones like flying from one country to another. When a person goes to bed to rest, he or she undergoes a bodily and organized process called sleep. An individual passes through five phases of sleep: stages 1, 2, 3, 4 or REM (Rapid Eye Movement).
These stages progress into a cycle from stage 1 to REM. The cycle may be repeated more than twice in one night. An individual spends about 50% of his sleeping time in stage 2 of the cycle, 20% in REM and 30% is spent on the other part of the cycle. Infants, on the other hand, have different percentages wherein they spend about half of their sleeping time in REM.
Stage 1 is the stage between sleep and wakefulness. A person’s sleep would be easily disrupted if the person is in this stage. Muscle activity is still constant and the eye movements are still observed.
For stage 2, the person’s sleep gradually deepens. It is harder to wake a person in this stage of sleep.
On stages 3 and 4, a person no longer responds to environmental stimuli. Stimuli include loud noises and bright lights. It is the stage where the person stays before progressing to REM. REM or Rapid Eye movement is part of the sleeping stage in which a person enters approximately 90 minutes after sleep is initiated. The deepest stage in the sleep cycle and is the hardest time to wake up a person. Muscle activity is greatly reduced but the brain activity is noticeably highest. EEG tests confirm that a person’s brain activity during the REM stage is similar to that when a person is awake.
Sleep Deeper, Wake Better
Setting a schedule means setting your sleeping time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Setting the time helps your body adapt to the schedule and allows your circadian rhythm to work properly. Disruption in the sleeping schedule may cause sleeping problems or lead to insomnia. Keeping the schedule up during the weekend will also be beneficial to the person because they will not have any problems adjusting to the new routine on Monday.
Exercising has been seen to affect a person’s sleeping schedule. Exercising for about 20 to 30 minutes a day often helps people sleep better at night. Exercise has been seen to help in releasing hormones needed for sleep. It is also beneficial for a person to exercise in the afternoon or 5 to 6 hours before sleeping. However, exercising right before sleeping will no longer be beneficial for the person involved.
Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol to have a good night’s sleep all have the same reasons. It affects the individual’s sleeping pattern. Caffeine is a substance commonly found in coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, non-herbal teas, diet drugs, and some pain relievers. Caffeine stimulates the brain and when the brain is stimulated, it would be hard for the individual to be able to sleep properly. Smokers tend to sleep lightly and often wake up early in the morning due to nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol robs the individual of deep sleep and REM sleep thus making the person wake up in the middle of the night.
Relaxing before bedtime allows the brain to slip into sleep quicker and allows deeper sleep. A warm bath, relaxing atmosphere, reading and even putting on music makes it easier for the person to fall asleep. Creating a relaxation ritual paired with a correct sleeping schedule will definitely allow a good night’s sleep. Also, sleeping until sunlight can help in the routine. Sunlight or bright lights help the body’s biological clock reset itself every morning.
When you are unable to sleep, lying in bed and doing nothing will not do you any good. Do something else by reading a book, listening to music, watching television until you feel tired help. Lying in bed and not doing anything increases a person’s anxiety thus reducing the chance for a person to be able to achieve deep sleep. Controlling room temperature provides comfort. If it is too warm or too cold, you would not be able to sleep properly or deeply. Experts suggest that having the right temperature will help you sleep nicely.
When still having trouble sleeping and the previous suggestions are not applicable, it is best to consult your doctor or an expert for that matter. Your physician would be able to help you. Remember, sleep is an important part of your day. To lose it means losing the day ahead.
Sleep That We Need
The optimal amount of a person’s sleeping time can be determined by age as well as how well their circadian rhythm is functioning. Our optimal sleeping time is at its highest while we are young and slowly decreases when we age.
For a newborn baby, a child below one-month-old, they are in need of12 to 18 hours of sleep on average. They need to sleep greater than they need to be awake.
An infant, a child who is still under one year old, is in need of 14 to 15 hours of sleep. Toddlers on the other hand (aged 1-3 years old) are in need of 12 to 14 hours of sleep. Sleep at their age is needed for continuous growth and development.
Pre-schoolers (aged 3-5), are in need of a lesser amount of sleep at 11 to 13 hours. When they reach the school age (aged 5-10), they are only in need of 10 to 11 hours of sleep.
For adolescents (aged 10 to 19), the optimal time for sleep is decreased to 8.5 to 9 hours.
Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This amount of time is also applicable to the elderly. Having an exact amount of sleep every night means that your circadian rhythm is working perfectly.
Your circadian rhythm helps in keeping your brain and body functions in check. It is considered your very own body clock. It makes sure that you are awake at the time that you should be and asleep when you need to rest.
Aside from the correct amount of sleep that a person must get every night, experts also suggest that individuals must make time to take a nap in the middle of the day or right after lunch.
A nap after lunch is greatly advantageous because your brain function decreases after you eat a meal. It is due to the fact that most of your blood pools or is used by your digestive system thus reducing blood and oxygen supply to the brain.
According to studies, taking a nap during the day has been seen to decrease coronary mortality which is possible due to reduced stress to the heart when body functions are decreased when sleeping.
Insomnia is classified into three groups: transient, acute, and chronic. Transient insomnia has the shortest time. It usually lasts for less than a week and it can be caused by another disorder, changes in the sleeping environment, the timing of sleep, severe depression or stress. Acute insomnia, on the other hand, is the inability to sleep consistently for less than a month. An individual is unable to maintain consistency despite adequate opportunity and circumstances for sleep. This may result in impaired daytime function. Acute insomnia is also called short term insomnia or stress-related insomnia. Chronic insomnia is a type of insomnia that lasts for more than a month. It may be a primary disorder or caused by a medical or psychiatric disorder. Their effects vary according to their cases and severity. Effects may include fatigue and hallucinations.
Among the most common ways of relieving insomnia are Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Pharmacological and alternative treatment. Cognitive Behavior therapy is a therapy directed towards improved sleeping habits without using pharmacological help. In this therapy, patients are taught ways to improve sleeping habits and relieve counter-productive assumptions about sleep. It allows the person to take control of his sleeping and waking habits, giving them power and making them realize that it is up to them to help themselves.
Pharmacologic treatments include benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepines, antidepressants, antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, and melatonin to improve sleep. Each medication prescribed is given according to what the person needs. Combinations of the drugs may be given if it is needed. The use of pharmacological treatments is oftentimes discouraged by physicians due to the possibility of tolerance and dependence of a person to a drug.
Tolerance means the body would need increased dosages of the drug because the initial dose is no longer effective. Dependence is when the individual would resort to medicine use even though it is not needed. Doctors and physicians nowadays create ways to limit the side effects of the drugs by decreasing the dosage when the person is able to sleep on his own.
Alternative treatments make use of herbal treatments in lieu of medications. The use of milk, teas, and other relaxation techniques has been suggested by experts. Milk has a sedative effect that can help an individual fall asleep better. Teas and herbs such as chamomile, valerian, lavender, and hops have been introduced to the public and are seen as a better alternative than medications.
Energy Boosts from Short Exercises
Exercise is a great way to fight stress, reduce fatigue, and increase our everyday energy levels. Even a few minutes spent on stretching those biceps and flexing those hamstrings can certainly help develop that. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between exercise and easy fatigability. Physically active people are more likely to have reduced risk for fatigue as compared to physically inactive ones. The exercise was also seen to have an effect on the energy level of people with a chronic illness like cancer and heart disease. An additional 15-minute walk in their routine is said to increase their capacity to deal with fatigue and stress.
The trick, as experts have said, is exercising when you feel tired. Tired people are less likely to put on their sneakers and go for a run or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Even a little increase in your activities can be helpful. Little exercises can be included in your routine without wasting much of your time. You can walk to work or ride a bicycle if it is a considerable distance instead of taking your car or taking a cab. You may also climb the stairs rather than take the elevator. Experts say that climbing the stairs for two minutes is equivalent to a 15-minute jog.
Also, making sure that you create a routine for you to follow will also help in the long run. You are able to know how many minutes you have left if you want to really go for an exercise of a different magnitude. Consistency must be maintained so as not to disrupt any major part of your routine.
For people wanting to perform short exercises, a simple run can be continued with a few minutes of stretching, curl-ups, and pushups.
The whole body must be stretched properly to prevent any pain or irritation after the exercise. You may also do a couple of pushups and curl-ups. You may also perform a couple of weight lifting activities but be careful not to overexert yourself too much. Also, for people wanting exercises that are easy to follow, a few minutes of instructional yoga, kickboxing, aerobics, and other instructional exercises may be effective for you.
It is always good to remember to have some time to yourself. And it is always good to spend that free time taking care of yourself and improving. A few minutes of exercise will always go a long way if you want to be as fit and healthy always.
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