Know your SLEEP , ”Light or Deep”
For some people, the slightest noise awakens them at night. For others, the wailing siren of a passing fire truck doesn’t disturb their slumber. Just why, though, remains a bit of a mystery.
Although many people are self-proclaimed light sleepers or heavy sleepers, researchers have found that little is actually known about why people react differently to noises and other stimuli during sleep.
Genetics, lifestyle choices, and undiagnosed sleep disorders may all play a role. In addition, some studies suggest that differences in brainwave activity during sleep may also make someone a light or heavy sleeper.
Light And Deep Sleep
During sleep, you alternate between cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) that repeat about every 90 minutes. You spend about 75 percent of the night in NREM sleep, which consists of four stages of increasing relaxation.
Stage one, or the phase between being awake and asleep, is considered light sleep. Deeper sleep begins in stage two, as your breathing and heart rate become regular and your body temperature drops .
Stages three and four are the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep, in which breathing slows, muscles relax, and tissue growth and repair occurs.
In general, young people spend more time in the deeper, heavier stages of sleep as they grow and develop. Older people spend less time in deep-sleep stages and are more likely to complain of being light sleepers.
What Contributes To Light Sleep
A small study, published in 2010 in Current Biology, suggests that differences in how sleeping people respond to noise may be related to levels of brain activity called sleep spindles. The researchers found that people whose brains produced the most of these high-frequency sleep spindles were more likely to sleep through loud noises. But more research is needed to confirm the results.
Some sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, may contribute to light sleep by causing awakenings throughout the night because of breathing irregularities.
In most cases, however, factors under your own control affect the quality of sleep you get. “There are lots of issues related to lifestyle, medication, alcohol, and caffeine that can lighten sleep. “People might also not be getting enough sleep because they’re not spending enough time in bed due to the choices they make.”
Practicing healthy sleep habits — maintaining a regular sleep schedule; limiting caffeine and alcohol use; and sleeping in a quiet, dark, and cool space — can all help faster deeper, heavier sleep.
Try these tips the next time you need to get some serious shut-eye
Don’t Focus on Sleeping
The more you think about the sleep you are missing, the more stressed you will be. And more stress means even less sleep. If you wake up and can’t fall back asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed. Do something relaxing outside of the bedroom, like listening to music or reading. If you lie there stressing out about falling back asleep, you’ll only get more anxious. Understand that sometimes the quality of your slumber is out of your control.
Stick to a Schedule
Regularity is sleep’s best friend. Try and adhere to a strict bedtime and wake time every day, even on the weekends. When your body has a routine, it knows when to start winding down and preparing for sleep.
Check for Sleep Apnea
Snoring is common, and although it’s usually harmless, it could be a symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. If you have long pauses in your snoring (ask a friend/bedmate to listen), see your doctor. Sleep apnea, while sometimes life threatening, can be treated.
Turn to the Tub
Your mom knew a thing or two about nighttime baths. The body starts to feel sleepy when it’s temperature drops. You can exaggerate that effect by taking a warm bath or shower and then lying down and letting your body heat get low.
Block Out the Light
Even just a little bit of light can disturb your sleep. So make sure to shut off all your night lights and hallway lamps, not to mention TVs, laptops, tablets, and phones, well before you head for bed.
Regular exercise can actually improve your sleep but you need to schedule it for the right time. Working out too close to bedtime may cause your body temperature to stay elevated, which makes it harder to doze off. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bedtime–preferably in the afternoon.
Avoid Heavy Foods and Alcohol
Consuming heavy foods or alcohol before bed can cause indigestion, not to mention frequent trips to the bathroom. And although drinking alcohol may make you tired and help you fall asleep faster, you will wake up more often and not get the quality of sleep you need to feel rested the next day.
Upgrade Your Pillow
Choose a pillow that is supportive, comfortable, and suited to your sleeping position. A stomach sleeper and a side sleeper may need different pillows.
Yep, sex before bed can help you fall asleep faster, too. Getting frisky releases feel-good endorphins which can relieve stress, making it easier to fall asleep. Sounds good to us.
De-Stress your life & Get More Sleep
So what’s keeping you up? Unless you live next door to a 24-hour car-alarm testing facility, the likely cause is stress.
Between job-security worries, your tanking 401(k), and the possibility that your next plane ride will turn into a river cruise, there’s plenty to be tense about. But that chronic anxiety makes your adrenaline and cortisol spike, your heart race, and your blood pressure increase. The result: You feel as if you’re hooked up to a nonstop caffeine drip.
“Stress shifts the brain and body into fifth gear, but you need to be in neutral to fall asleep,”
- Don’t Remember Sending That Text? You Might Have Been Asleep (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Six Tips For Better Napping (blogs.wsj.com)
- [WATCH]: Understanding Sleep Apnea and Sleep Disorders (findmedicalsolutions.com)
- Sleep Cycle Apps: Can This Latest Craze Really Help Us Sleep Better? (webonorme.org)
- The End of Sleep? (3quarksdaily.com)
- Sleep apnea, dim light at night may increase depression – BedTimes Magazine (bradleyreedf.wordpress.com)
- The Importance of Respecting Your Sleep Rhythms (ekahimethod.com)
- How to wake up fresh with a smarter alarm (blogial.com)
- States Of Arousal and APGAR Scale (infytod.wordpress.com)
- Salivation: Worship My Deep-Sleep Drool (imindful.wordpress.com)
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