“Sleep is that golden key that ties health and our bodies together.”
― Thomas Dekker
The Different Stages of Sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you may need to sleep for seven to nine hours per night. Despite having enough sleep, have you ever felt tired in the morning?
Low-quality sleep may be your cause.
During sleep, your brain goes into sleep cycles that alternate between non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM). For non-REM sleep, there are three stages ranging from light sleep (stage 1) to deep slow-wave sleep (stage 3 and 4).
Initially, the sleep cycle starts with stage 1 of non-REM sleep, followed by stage 2, 3, and 4 of non-REM sleep and finally reaching REM sleep, which lasts about 90 minutes.
Each subsequent sleep cycles last about 120 minutes but with longer length of REM sleep.
Sleep cycle, REM indicated in red.
The Importance of Sleep
Each stage of sleep is key to fulfilling the physiological and neurological functions of a healthy body and mind. If any of the sleep stages are missed or sleep is interrupted, some physiological functions won’t be performed. Hence you may feel tired and groggy despite sleeping enough hours.
When you maximize REM sleep, all other stages will also be optimized. During sleep, the body also goes into recovery and rebuilding mode by executing the following:
Removes toxins in the brain such as
Synthesizes essential hormones
Boosts immune function
Without sufficient sleep, your body will have increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in the body. In addition, low energy, poor focus, and higher possibility of fatigue are direct results from sleep deprivation.
The Benefits of Sufficient High-Quality Sleep
When well-rested, you will experience the following benefits:
Have better physical performance.
Enjoy better moods.
Enhance immune system functions.
Lower levels of systemic inflammation.
Increase your lifespan.
Better abilities to learn and solve problems more effectively.
How to Get Your Best Night of Sleep
To increase your sleep quality:
Dim the lights in your surrounding environment as you prepare for sleep.
Reduce screen time an hour before bedtime. But if you must, then use a blue-blocking glasses since blue light suppresses the production level of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
Avoid caffeine intake at least ten to twelves hour before bedtime as caffeine stimulates alertness and can cause insomnia. Caffeine can stay in the body for up to twelve hours!
Avoid alcohol consumption late in the evening as it’s a depressant and can disrupt your sleep cycle.
Wear comfortable earplugs if your environment is noisy.
Block out light using a blackout curtain or use a comfortable eye sleep mask.
Invest in a high-quality bed. It’s a worthwhile investment if you spend eight hours a day sleeping on it.
Strive to wake up naturally instead of to an alarm clock.
Aim to sleep at the same time every night.
Create a powerful evening ritual to slowly wind down. You can listen to meditative music while performing some gentle yoga stretches to put you in a calm physical and mental state.
After getting a restful night of sleep, you’ll feel rested and energetic to take on the day.
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