Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Health Facts about Sleep

Sleep is such a universal element of our lives, one would think we would want to know much more about it given its importance.  But too often, this wondrous experience is largely taken for granted.  When we fill the seduction of sleep come over us, we most often give in to it, gladly soaking up every bit of it magical qualities.
The Wlonders of Sleep

Once sleep becomes one with us, it goes straight to work in helping us in more ways than your probably realize.  Sleep positively impacts muscle recover as our body gets ready for the trials and tribulations of the next day.  Sleep is also an important ingredient to our overall happiness.  From studies, when sleep is withheld, we perform worse at all sorts of things, particularly those requiring mental acuity.  What a powerful tool sleep is and when we understand how to use it properly, it can make meaningful improvements in your life.
To start, it is important to understand there are two main types of sleep.  Deep sleep is when the recovery of all of our mental and physical systems are operating at its most proficient level.  Deep sleep happens pretty quickly in your cycle of sleep, happening early as you enter into your own sleep pattern.  Neurons are now firing at a much slower pace and your body triggers a release of hormones that go to the restoration and growth of muscle tissue and immune systems.   Deep sleep is vital and those things you might do without awareness to interrupt this form of sleep can set you back.  An example is drinking too much caffeine before bedtime.
REM sleep, something I am sure you have heard about is also critical to your ability to make connections with those things you learned.  Deep sleep helps you repair so that you can retain more facts.  REM sleep helps you build bridges between these facts and make connections.  Creativity is best served when you get plenty of REM sleep.  It usually kicks in after your deep sleep stage.
For caffeine drinkers, do not panic!  Known for its ability to get us moving when we are lethargic, caffeine also can negatively impact our sleep.  But caffeine does not stay in your system terribly long.  It has a life of about six hours, so try not to ingest too much or any caffeine after 3:00 pm if you wish to have a nice uninterrupted cycle of deep and REM sleep.
For those of you who are proponents of naps, well guess what…naps are indeed very effective boosters and helps you with getting those batteries recharged.  But if you have been having difficulty falling asleep at night, then cut out those later in the day naps because deep sleep is so very important.
So if you want to have a good pattern and consistent cycle of sleep, there are things you can consider to help you improve your sleep habits.  First, set up a schedule that is relatively regular and achievable.  Your body likes its rhythms and to that effect, try to go to sleep around the same time and wake up around the same time.  It can be almost magical if you train yourself to follow a routine schedule of sleeping.
You sleep is also effected by the environment so in that respect seek out a dark place…OK that is obvious, but I emphasize a really dark place.  Make sure the blinds are closed and that any ambient light coming your way is dealt with.  It is also helpful to have a cool place to sleep.  They body likes it when it is just a bit cool outside the covers and  if you drink some water before sleeping, heavy sleep will also be rewarding you.  Obviously, you need a quiet environment, but that does not mean there cannot be sounds.  Just as long as those sounds are regular and rhythmic such as a ceiling fan turning or a room air conditioner.  Another tip is to wear socks on your feet because if you feet get too cold, sleep will be interrupted.
Relaxation is also an important piece of the puzzle.  It is not always as obvious as it sounds.  There are tactics you can employ to help relax such as dimming the lights just before sleep time or reading a book, though careful the book is not disturbing.  Sometimes a little television time or playing music can help you get in this state of relaxation.  Try different things and eventually you will find out what works best for you and helps you slip right into a peaceful night of sleep.

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