You might be pondering what sleep hygiene is and whether it’s even a thing. Well, it certainly is. We all sleep, but how well? In this read we are going to cover a few aspects of sleep, starting by explaining sleep and what happens when you are in this state.
Simply put, sleep is the temporary suspension of your consciousness that happens when your eyes are closed and muscles relaxed. There are two types of sleep and they are divided into 5 stages.
In This Post:
Type 1: Non REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
Stage 1- this involves light sleep with easy arousal.
Stage 2- The movement of the eyes stops, and body temperature drops.
Stage 3 and 4- Deep sleep occurs and it’s not easy to be aroused. The muscles become relaxed and blood supply to them ideally increases. Breathing becomes slower and blood pressure reduces. It is at this stage that energy is restored and tissue repair and growth occurs. The hormones needed for growth and development, repair as well as rejuvenation are released at this phase and an individual tends to feel disoriented or groggy if wakened during at this period. It’s ideally the stage where bed-wetting, sleepwalking and nightmares usually happen in children.
Type 2: Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
This type of sleep often starts at 70 to 90 minutes after sleeping and completes the sleep cycle. A conventional sleep cycle usually takes 90-110 minutes. The brain regains energy for proper performance during daytime and the body becomes relaxed.
The following hormonal activities tend to happen when you’re sleeping, and the become more beneficial the longer you sleep.
Cortisol, a stress hormone responsible for regulating blood pressure increases over the night in order to improve your alertness at morning.
Another hormone known as melatonin is ideally produced at this period and the more you sleep, the more melatonin is produced. Low levels of this hormone have been linked to cases of prostate and breast cancers, particularly to individuals who do night shifts. As a matter of fact, the World Health Organization added night shift work as class 2A carcinogen, meaning it’s a probable cause of cancer. So, if you are constantly exposed to bright lights at night or are usually awake, you’re at risk of getting these cancers. Currently, melatonin is being utilized as an adjuvant treatment for some cancers to boost recovery and increase the chances of survival among cancer victims.
Sleep ideally helps in the regulation of hormones leptin and ghrelin that play a role in hunger and satiety feelings. When you don’t have adequate sleep, you are bound to feel hungry and crave for food which can put you in a bad cycle of overeating which can lead to weight gain.
So, How Much Sleep Do You Need?
According to the American Sleep Association, 16 hours for infants, 9 hours for teens and 7 hours for adults is recommended. If an individual sleeps less than this period, they are essentially creating sleep debt, which the body will ultimately demand. Ideally, failing to get adequate sleep for long periods leads to hormonal imbalance and damage to the immune system.
Tips To Maintain Proper Sleep Hygiene
- Ensure you sleep for the at least the recommended time at night.
- Avoid using smartphones, laptops and tablets right before bed.
- Invest in a good mattress like this from Sealy Posturepedic
- Eat supper early enough to avoid excessive fullness and alleviate heartburn which can interfere with proper sleep.
- Do not drink caffeinated drinks close to bedtime.
- Exercise on a regular basis to promote sleep, but avoid working out right before bed as it’s bound to keep you stimulated.
- If you always seem tired and fatigued in the mornings, visit your doctor as you might be suffering from insomnia, depression or sleep apnea.
In conclusion, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping and doing so every day has a huge impact on how healthy, productive and successful you can be through the rest of your life. Your body deserves a break on a regular basis and it requires time to repair your muscles, rejuvenate and even grow. So, ensure you practice optimum sleep hygiene.