An essential activity that we do daily, neither having to remind nor commit ourselves, sleep is a necessity and is significant in our everyday life for healthy body and good performance. In order to have good quality sleep, how much do you know about sleeping despite spending six to eight hours on bed each day?
Every day, we are spending six to eight hours on our comfy bed. That’s almost a third of our lifespan! Your bed is your best friend for your body to rest and recharge. At the same time, with a bed, you are freed from the woes and pressure from work, and after a long night of good sleep, you will be able to welcome a new day energetically.
However, as our standard of living increases at the price of skyrocketing levels of competitiveness in the working society, many people tend to compromise their quantity and quality of sleep with their workload, while some others are experiencing sleeping problems due to excessive stress.
Appearing to be the most unproductive activity for typical humans since it is when that it seems that one is doing nothing much during this period, sleep is essential as it plays an important role in our lives. Check out the must-knows about sleep to help your body to have quality and sufficient rest for a healthier body and mind!
#1 What happens when we are asleep?
When asleep, our muscles relax and our breathing rate slow down. There are two distinctive phases of sleep patterns that occur every time we sleep – rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM).
REM sleep occurs typical only approximately 25% of one’s overall sleep. This phase recurs around four to five times a night, short at the beginning and longer in the later of the night. During this time, dreams are vivid as information is processed by the brain and eye movements will be rapid.
There are four stages to NREM. And, during this phase, the body repairs and regenerates tissues. The first stage is light sleep (the time when we are easily awakened). It is common to experience hypnic jerks such as a sensation of falling from a height due to sudden muscle contractions. At the second stage, our breathing and heart rates become more regular and our body temperature drops, preparing the body for deep sleep. For stages three and four, we are in a condition of deep sleep; our heart rate and blood pressure decreases.
#2 Why we need quality sleep?
Most importantly, ample rest that you get during sleep is for your body for healing and reparation so as to be well-prepared for the challenges that await the very next day, be it mentally, physically or emotionally. For instance, tissues are rebuilt for adults and growth hormones are secreted in children which is essential for their physical development.
Besides, just by sleeping, our body will restore our energy levels and the brain is able to process all the information that was gathered in the day, allowing our brain to store what we learn for the day in our long-term memory.
#3 Factors affecting quality of sleep
Our body internal clock affects our ability to sleep within the 24 hours we have in day. For people who are doing shift works or experience jet lags due to frequent travelling, sleep quality is affected.
Stress is also another crucial factor that results in poor sleep quality. Furthermore, when one is perplexed, depressed or have many stray thoughts in mind, he or she will have difficulty sleeping as well.
An uncluttered bedroom that is cosy and conducive will allow you to sleep better. Are the lightings and temperatures comfortable for resting? Or are there always unnecessary noises that wake you up in the middle or the night?
#4 Consequences of sleep deprivation
If you are suffering from sleeping problems such as insomnia or sleep disorders, it is time to act on it now as sleep deprivation has severe consequences. If you are in a heavy sleep debt (not having enough sleep which your body requires), bloodshot eyes, eye bags and headaches can be observed.
Additionally, one will not be able to focus well in work due to tiredness. Therefore, as a result, the productivity level together with the standard of performance suffers. Other than physical harms, sleep deprivation is bad for emotional health too. People who have insufficient sleep will tend to have extreme mood swings, depressions and will be easily irritated and anxious.
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental. When condition is severe, several diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and cancer can be triggered. The main reason is that the lack of sleep will result in overactiveness in the central nervous systems, affecting the ability of pancreas to produce sufficient insulin to regulate glucose levels. Also, more stress hormones is produced during insufficient sleep, increasing the chances of heart attacks and strokes. During our sleep, detoxification and rebooting of immune system occurs and thus strengthening our bodies. Meanwhile, cortisol (an anti-inflammatory) is lowered to allow normal growth and repair. And, melatonin (a body hormone) is released at night in order to fight against abnormal cell growth, and hence prevents cancer.
#5 How to improve sleeping quality?
First, maintain the same sleep pattern every day. Usually, weekends are the best time for you to sleep in to ‘make up’ for the rest that we think we lack on weekdays. Even so, sleeping in on weekends is not exactly healthy as your sleep patterns get disrupted and sleep hangovers may occur.
Second, learn to relax yourself through simple activities such as reading books and listening to soft music will help to enhance your sleep quality. Do not watch television or use computers right before sleep for such activities interfere with your sleep quality.
Third, beverages containing caffeine like coffee and hot chocolate should be avoided before sleep. Also, smoking should be prevented because of its presence of nicotine. Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulating agents and these substances decrease your quality of sleep.
Do not neglect this significant activity for our body. Appearing to be a trivial matter, sleep is one of the key factors to boost our daily work performances, be it our ability to focus or in terms of relationship management with the people around us. If one suffers from sleeping problems, the consequences can be dire. Do seek for solutions and treatments if sleeping issues persist. In the meantime, being able to relax our mind and body will be great to attain quality sleep.