If your goal is to improve your sleep, it is important to understand what healthy sleep is and how it works. Some people think sleep is just a block that shuts down the brain and body— and they don’t prioritize it.
Sleep is and should be a “priority”. Actually, the brain and body are very active while we sleep and it is important for overall health.
Sleep does two things ;1) our brain organizes the day; 2) the body is healing (remember the word “healing”- well how else does our body heal? From sleep) !!!task carried out during sleep help people stay healthy and function at their best.
As we go through the day our minds move, rearranges ad adds information. Healthy sleep is important to help reorganize our minds. Which is why people who have a healthy sleep, wake up feeling refreshed.
People with healthy sleep usually wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start their day. Between the time someone falls asleep and the time they wake up, they experience several cycles of sleep. Each cycle has different stages of sleep, with each stage playing an important role.
What is healthy sleep?
There are three processes that determine if you sleep, when you sleep, and how well you sleep. Your Sleep Need is how much someone needs to sleep at a given time. In other words, your sleep need is primarily determined how long you’ve been awake and how much healthy sleep the night before.
As the day progress you empty the tank to refuel by sleep need. When you wake up after a full night of healthy sleep, it’s like you just finished filling up your gas tank in preparation for a busy day. When your sleep is tied to your sleep clock is an internal clock that is “set” by the presence or absence of light.
On the flip side- it is time to wake up for example by getting a message almost time to sleep. Sleep clock: Each of us has a natural internal clock called a circadian rhythm. This clock triggers our bodies to feel, and do, different things at different times of the day.
Sleep Disruptors are anything that gets in the way of our Sleep Need or Sleep Clock
When you have a lot on your mind, it is difficult to feel the relaxation necessary for sleep. Things like stress and worry are common disruptors. Nightmares or disturbing memories can also keep you awake. Sleep disruptors are factors that disrupt or interfere with our sleep need or sleep clock.
Examples of sleep disruptors:
- Using alcohol and drugs: Research suggests drinking alcohol or using other drugs to help you fall asleep may hurt you in the long run by disturbing the body’s sleep-regulating mechanism.
- Coffee, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages: Caffeine can help you wake up in the morning or stay alert during the day. But if you drink it late in the day, it can keep you awake that night when you are trying to sleep.
- Irregular sleep schedules: If you sleep late on weekends, nap during the day, or work rotating shifts, your body has difficulty maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule. Those disruptions to your sleep schedule can be long lasting if not corrected.
- Medical issues: Medical issues can include medications, chronic pain, depression, stress, disturbing thoughts, or memories.
- Not using CPAP properly: If you are prescribed a CPAP to treat Sleep Apnea, you must use it every day, including during naps. Your sleep can be affected if the mask doesn’t fit properly and/or you don’t use the machine for even one day.
- Examples of sleep disruptors: which are more in our control such as caffeine, alcohol, sleep schedule. Medical is out of our control and which we need a health professional to diagnose and treat.
Is a term used to describe the things you should and should not do to promote good sleep. Sleep hygiene includes both your actions and the environment around you.
How to work on your sleep hygiene: here would be examples to create your own action plan.
Just practicing good sleep hygiene won’t fix your sleep problems, but not practicing it will get in the way with your other efforts to improve your sleep and make it hard to achieve results.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is about making choices that can help promote a normal, high quality night’s sleep.
Action Plan list
- Read each bullet point and add it to your action plant list: if you think you are having issues with any of the topics below, look and then read on tips how you can work on it.
- Drinking alcohol to help fall asleep: Drinking alcohol creates a broken sleep pattern. You will awaken after the alcohol has been digested. This often happens within 4 hours of falling asleep, and once you are awake, you may have difficulty falling back to sleep.
- Drinking caffeine: Caffeine can help people remain alert during the day. Be very careful of the amount you have and how late you have it, as it will interfere with your sleep.
- Eating an earlier dinner: Eating late at night could cause an upset stomach and interrupt your sleep. It is better to refrain from eating within 3 hours of sleep
- Exercise: Research has shown regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and improves sleep. Exercise makes us feel more relaxed. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- Sleeping with the TV on: Your sleep environment should be cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. A quiet environment will help promote better sleep. For example: your bedroom should only be for 3 things: sleep sex and changing.
- Taking naps: Taking a nap reduces your Sleep Need, making it more difficult to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Smoking: Nicotine is a stimulant and can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep well through the night.
- Using mobile devices in bed: Don’t use mobile devices in your sleep environment. Since light is a cue for being awake, keeping your room dark will promote better sleep
- Seeing plenty of sunlight: Spending too much time in the dark during the day can confuse the body’s sleep clock. Seeing plenty of sunlight through windows or from being outside will set your Sleep Clock and help you fall asleep at night
- Having a sleep schedule: Getting out of bed at the same time every day, no matter what time you went to sleep, is one of the best things to promote good sleep
- Comfortable bedroom: Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Your room should be free of all distractions and a place you associate with sleeping and sex and changing.
- Room temperature: Most people sleep best in a room that is a little bit cool (around 65 degrees F).
Getting deep sleep and REM sleep are important to healthy sleep. Pay attention to possible sleep disruptors in your life and practice good sleep hygiene to help promote a normal, high quality night’s sleep. This knowledge will give you the best chance of sleeping better.
As an example of a healthy person during sleep
While we are sleeping, we are going through sleep cycles (NREM non rapid eye movement and REM rapid eye movement). We start in NREM but before I go into each cycle of NREM and REM. Let me break them down so you can understand one another and the importance of each cycle.
In NREM we have 3 stages. N1: you are entering a very light sleep and can be easily awaken by it and also not know you are partially sleeping. N2: is where a normal sleeper normally spends 40-50% of sleep. N3: is a very important stage (it is your deeper sleep) this is where your body and mind are being restored.
REM aka stage 4 occurs 90 minutes after you’ve been sleeping. During REM your eye balls move rapidly back and forth. 2 fun facts about REM- this is where you are learning and forming memories and HR and Brain activity are very similar to being awake. Cool right? I know I think so :).
A healthy sleep can have 4-5 cycles. Each cycle can last btw 90 to 120 minutes. If you do the math- you can sleep from 6 to 10 hours btw NREM to REM.