While most of us want to sleep more and sleep better, we usually can’t. Be it late working hours, partying with the friends or just general insomnia, there’s a large number of things that mess around with our sleep. This can be severely detrimental to the body. Lack of sleep doesn’t just affect the body, though. It holds the potential to affect the mind as well.
Why is Sleep Important
Sleep isn’t just a quick way to rest your body. This is the time when your body detoxifies, clears itself out, essentially. Everything from recovery & repair to the building to immunity and stabilization of blood pressure happens when you sleep. In fact, a healthy sleep also helps to improve the functioning of your heart and aids the growth of muscles.
Many suffer through foul breath in the mornings and gunk between the eyes. The first pee of the day is also yellower than any other time in the day. All of these are evidence of the fact that the body cleans itself out while you rest.
The fact remains that while caffeine, physical activity, technology, a healthy diet, and fresh foods are all pretty fantastic, nothing can replace sleep. While most physicians recommend 7-8 hours of sleep, that duration is dependent on the quality of sleep. Even sleeping for a full 8 hours will not be sufficient if your sleep is not deep and sound. Quality before quantity, always.
Stages of Sleep
Sleep can broadly be categorized into the first 3 stages of NREM or Non-REM and a 4th stage called REM.
Stage 1: This is the lightest among the NREM sleep stages. Have you noticed eye- movements even when a person is asleep? This is when a person is in this stage. Easily disrupted, this is the time that your muscles start to relax and the brain waves slow down.
Stage 2: This is the first stage that can actually be defined as NREM sleep. This sleep is less easy to disrupt. The brain waves continue to slow down, as does the heart rate and the temperature of the body.
Stage 3: This is the deep NREM stage, considered as most restorative. This sleep is very difficult to disrupt. This is also the stage when people experience talking in their sleep, night terrors, sleepwalking and other incidents of Parasomnias.
REM: This is the dreaming stage. Recognized by rapid eye movements, this sleep is easy to disrupt and brain waves remain active. If you wake up groggy, it’s possibly because you’ve been woken from REM sleep.
Tricks to sleeping better
- Get off your phones and television at least 45 minutes to an hour before sleeping. These emit blue light which messes with your sleep. When you head to bed after you’ve done your nightly chores, drop your phone aside and pick up a book instead.
- Put an end to caffeine consumption after sunset. Your body takes time to eliminate caffeine from the system, so give it the time to do that. Avoid coffee for 4-6 hours before your regular sleeping time.
- Take a few deep breaths. They will calm you and put your body to ease.
- If you’re having too much trouble sleeping, consider using essential oils. You can use an oil diffuser. Essential oils like frankincense and lavender are the best aids to better sleep.
- Guided meditation can also help to calm your body down. If guided meditation doesn’t appeal, playing soothing sounds can also help. A lot of people sleep better with sounds of rainfall or the ocean waves playing on a speaker.
- Try a few relaxing yoga poses. If you’re a yoga enthusiast, opt for Yoga Nidra. According to sleep experts. 20 minutes of yoga Nidra done properly can equate to up to 2 hours of deep sleep.
Sleeping well is the key to resolving a lot of bodily problems like fatigue, muscle pain, and exhaustion. Sleeping well also helps you remain calm and level-headed. So the next time you’re wondering why you woke up exhausted, consider fixing your sleep cycle!