Sleep makes you feel better, improves your mood, banishes eye circles and is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Understanding how it works is the key to improving its quality and unlocking the benefits for yourself.
Regular sleeping patterns involve 2 states and 4 stages. It is as follows:
Stage 1: N1 – Light Sleep
You still have awareness and can be easily woken. People are usually in this stage for 5-10% of the cycle
Stage 2: N2 – Light Sleep
Conscious awareness is lost and the person is more difficult to be woken. This stage takes up 45-55% of the cycle – you spend most of your time in this stage.
Stage 3: Deep – Deep Sleep
The muscles are fully relaxed and heart rate is at lowest level. You will be groggy when woken from this stage, which is 15-25% of your cycle.
Stage 4: REM – Deep Sleep
No muscular movement, heart rate and breathing becomes irregular. We dream in this stage. 20 – 25% of your cycle.
Important points regarding the above cycle:
- One whole cycle (going through N1, N2, Deep, then REM) takes, on average, 90 mins.
- Optimal amount of sleep for an adult is 5 complete cycles – average 7.5hrs
- If you wake up mid-cycle (ie, in “deep” stage), when you go back to sleep you start the cycle from the beginning again (N1).
Recent studies have shown that going just 5 consecutive days with less than 7 hours of sleep leads to: being pre-diabetic, a low libido, depression, reduced reaction time, elevated blood pressure, poor decision making skills, and lower productivity.
So how do we improve the quality of our sleep?
Here are some key points to achieve a better sleep:
- Consistency in regular bed time and waking up each day
- Have a clean and tidy bedroom (a clutter-free room equals a clutter-free mind)
- The room must be cool, dark and silent
- If the room can’t be silent, white noise is better then random noise (ie: a fan)
- No electronics 60 mins before bed time
- Tracking your sleep can improve it (what you focus on grows).
In summary, sleep needs to be spoken in the same breath as nutrition and exercise when it comes to optimal health. A little bit of effort in this area can provide massive benefits in all areas of one’s life.