According to Wikipedia, Sleep is a naturally recurring state of mind and body. During this state, there is
- Altered consciousness
- Inhibited sensory activity
- Reduced muscle activity
- Decreased ability to respond to stimuli
What Happens During Sleep
Sleep accounts for ¼ to 1/3 of the human lifespan. It would make sense to at least understand what happens while we sleep. Sleep is divided into non-REM sleep and REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement.
Non-REM Sleep: This consists of 4 stages
1st Stage: This happens between being awake and falling asleep
2nd Stage: This stage involves light sleep. The heart rate and breathing are regulated and there is a drop in body temperature
3rd and 4th Stage is deep sleep.
New data suggests that non-REM is the more important sleep for memory and learning.
REM sleep: During this stage, your eyes are engaged in rapid movement from side to side under closed eyelids.
- Brain activity is elevated, heart rate increases
- Dreams are most common during this phase
- Memory is processed and stored during this phase
- Tends to occur late at night into the early morning
One cycle of REM and non-REM lasts about 90 mins.
Circadian Clock Rhythm
This is an internal clock that alerts the body when it’s about to sleep. Circadian clocks are found in the brain and other organs. They are triggered by daylight(alertness) and darkness (drowsiness). They can also be triggered by stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and energy drinks.
Why Are You Not Falling Asleep?
Insufficient sleep can lead to attention and behavioral problems. Sleep helps to process your thoughts from the day as well as store memories. Lack of good sleep can impair memory, and increase irritability, and anxiety.
Bad sleeping habits include
- Looking at phone screens, and computer screens late at night
- Drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages at night.
- Not following a regular sleep schedule
- Sleeping in an environment that is too noisy
- Drastic changes to the body’s natural circadian clock (people that work night shifts)
- Having a sleep disorder e.g., Sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome
- Medical conditions such as heart, lung, or kidney issues can impair sleep over a long period of time
- Chronic pain
Sleep Deficiency is a condition in which your body has gone continuously without sleep. It is a state in which you cannot make up lost hours. Sleep deficiency can increase the risk of
How Much Sleep Do We Actually Need
According to the American Academy of Sleep. This table shows how much sleep we need as individuals.
|Newborns||0-3 months||14-17 hours|
|Infants||4-11 months||12-16 hours|
|Toddlers||12 months to 2years||10-14 hours|
|Preteens and teenagers||5 years to 17 years||8 -12 hours|
|Adults||18 -70 years||7- 8 hours|
Sleep Hygiene Tips
- Set a sleep schedule and stick to it. Going to bed at the same time and waking up around the same time. This helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.
- Regular exercise of adequate intensity can promote muscle relaxation
- Try and avoid large meals 2-3 hours before bed.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, coffee, and energy drink 4-6 hours before bedtime.
- Stop using devices that emit blue light at least an hour before bedtimes such as phones, tablets, and computers.
- Create a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment for your room.
- Create a calming bedtime routine such as deep breathing exercises, light yoga, and listening to deep soothing, and relaxing music.
- Reduce your daytime naps
What To Do If You Can’t Sleep
There are times when you are going to be unable to fall asleep. It may happen once or it may become a common occurrence. Keeping a sleep diary can help you track your sleep and learn about your sleep pattern. This is what you track when you keep a sleep diary.
- The Time you went to bed
- The time you fell asleep (if known)
- How many times did you wake up in the night?
- The time you woke up in the morning
- How many naps did you take during the day and how long did they last?
- Medications used if any
- How much caffeine or alcohol do you consume?
- What exercises did you do?
- Did your day at work have an adverse effect on your sleep?
Why Need Good Sleep
- Having a good sleep schedule can help you maintain or lose weight. It is advised when you start doing weight resistance training that you get at least 8 hours of sleep.
- It can maximize athletic and sexual performance.
- Having a good sleep aid in strengthening the heart
- It helps build a strong immune system.
- Poor sleep is linked to depression
- Poor sleep affects emotions and social interactions
- Improves concentration and productivity
Sleep is the most restorative function of our body when the circadian rhythm is on your side. In today’s world of modern technology such as tablets, computers, and smartphones it’s easy to be both tempted and afflicted by these devices leaving you sleep-deprived. The best way to avoid this dilemma is by developing a sound sleep hygiene routine to improve your overall sleeping habits.
As a baby grows, it’s impossible for them to manage their time, and schedule the amount of sleep that is necessary for their well-being (I mean they are babies). So, it is important for parents to help children develop healthy sleeping habits by setting up proper sleep hygiene practices, following which your child can fall asleep on his own and will have no problem staying asleep through the night.
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