Improving The Quality Of Your Sleep
Sleep – we all need it to survive – but somehow it always seems to be put on the back burner in our daily routine. Not getting proper sleep is not only bad for your health, but makes those long days even less enjoyable. If you wake up everyday feeling tired you are far from alone. Many will say they just don’t get enough sleep, but the actual problem quite often is a result of not getting the right type of sleep. Quality over quantity is an issue that you will probably be hearing a lot of in the coming years. Getting in your proper REM (rapid eye movement) cycles are important, but so are the multiple non-REM stages which come before. On a typical night, you may progress through each cycle 4-6 times before waking and feeling refreshed. In this article we will look at some ways to improve the quality of your nightly sleep, without adding any extra time on your pillow by maximizing your sleep cycles.
Getting the Most out of your Sleep Cycles
It’s easy to wonder how you can sleep better without sleeping longer. A good nights sleep involves a repeating cycle of non-REM and REM sleep. If you wake up and still feel tired throughout the day, you may not be getting proper time in the deep sleep cycle. Deep sleep is the last of the non-REM cycles and is where your body receives its overnight physical therapy and your energy levels are rejuvenated. Waking up frequently throughout the night limits the amount of time you can spend in deep sleep. Also, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine will mess with your sleep patterns – so avoid them just before bedtime. Noise and any type of distraction (including light) can do a number on your sleep patterns as well which makes it difficult to have proper sleep cycles for those working overnights or sleeping at unusual hours of the day.
The unappreciated Third of your Life
Since you spend – or should spend – about a third of your life sleeping you might as well treat yourself to the utmost in comfort and luxury. Quality bedding – from mattresses to pillows and sheets all play a role in getting a good nights sleep. Sleeping on a more comfortable mattress often is the change you need to improve those ever important sleep cycles. A great mattress can only go so far if you have a bad pillow – many people are enjoying memory foam pillows right now – but you should experiment with pillows of varying hardness and softness to see which feels right.
Aside from quality bedding, there are a handful of other tips that anyone can take advantage of to improve their nightly sleep. Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone in your body which makes you feel sleepy, is controlled by exposure to light (or a lack thereof). If you expose yourself to a sufficient amount of natural daylight melatonin levels will be kept in a low state until after dark when they naturally begin to secrete, making you feel tired. To that end, avoid bright electronic screens right before bed as they trick your brain into being more awake at a time when it should be winding down. Additionally, try to keep eating and exercising before your bedtime to a minimum. Realistically you should allow a couple of hours after any serious physical exertion before trying to sleep.
Good sleep is the key to a happy day and a long healthy life so do what it takes to maximize your shuteye. If you wake up with neck or back pain, its time for a new mattress and some quality bedding. The money you spend now on your sleep will pay for itself over time. You just can’t put a price on a good night’s rest!