Whether you’re a new parent, an overworked businessperson, or a tired teenager, you probably need no convincing that sleep is a beautiful thing. Most of us look forward to that moment when we slip under the covers and head to dreamland.
But sleep is more than just a feel-good activity. Keep reading to learn more from Trusted Health Products about the importance of sleep to our overall health and longevity.
What Happens During Sleep?
When you sleep, your brain goes through two different cycles, called REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep is comprised of three stages, including:
Falling asleep. This is when your body moves from wakefulness to sleep. The body can easily be disrupted during this stage and fade in and out of sleep and wakefulness.
Light sleep. Brain waves start to slow down during this phase and the body temperature and heart rate starts to drop. It is harder to wake during this phase, but still possible.
Deep sleep. This is the most restorative phase of sleep. It is very difficult to wake someone from this stage. Sleepwalking, sleep talking, and night terrors may occur during this stage.
REM sleep occurs after deep sleep. During this phase of sleep, eye movements are rapid and brain waves are more active. People can be awoken easily during REM, but arousal during this time may result in a groggy, sleepy feeling.
Most people cycle through all four stages of sleep every 90-120 minutes, so they go through each cycle four or five times per night.
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep is essential to brain function and overall physical health. Sleep promotes brain plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to process and remember information. Researchers think that sleep may help with brain plasticity by efficiently removing waste products from our brain cells.
Sleep also helps keep our metabolism functioning properly and strengthens our immunity. People who do not get enough sleep are at greater risk of many health issues, including depression, high blood pressure, and migraines.
Tips to Get to Sleep
Darken Your Room. Want a good night of sleep? Draw the curtains and keep the lights low. This is because the absence of light helps the body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone that signals to our brain to start preparing for sleep. Melatonin allows muscles to relax and body temperature to drop, which induces a deeper sleep.
Lower the Temperature. Experts suggest that the best temperature for sleep is between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, turn down the thermostat and see if you get drowsy faster.
Keep a Schedule. Our bodies have an internal clock that tells us when to go to bed and when to wake up. When this clock is disrupted, we can feel extreme fatigue and irritability during the day. (This is why jet lag is such a pain!) To get optimal sleep, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day — even on the weekend.
Drink Less Before Bed. Many people wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and then have trouble going back to sleep afterward. Avoid this issue by not drinking any fluids at least an hour before bedtime.
Exercise. Exercise makes us more alert and active during the day, but it also tires out our body for sleep at night. Just make sure to exercise early enough that your body isn’t all pumped up from the workout right before bed.
Limit Caffeine. This is a no-brainer for some, but in case you’re used to an evening coffee or Diet Coke with dinner, may we remind you that caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake well after the time you’re aiming to go to bed. Avoid drinking caffeine in the late afternoon — or better yet, don’t drink it at all.
Armed with knowledge of the importance of sleep and our sleep tips, you’re more than ready to get into a great sleep routine. Getting better rest will boost your mood and allow you to have more energy and mental clarity throughout the day. Sweet dreams!
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