A DIFFERENT KIND OF NIGHT CLASS FOR GREAT SLEEP
Living a healthy lifestyle, adjusting your sleep environment and understanding how sleep works makes the difference between good and great sleep.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Living a healthy lifestyle affects your daily life as much as your time spent asleep. A healthy lifestyle means more than getting regular exercise and eating well. Finding a good work/life balance and keeping stress to a minimum is just as important. It can be harder to fall asleep when you’re not taking care of yourself. Taking steps towards living a healthy life means taking steps towards a better sleep.
Your sleep environment has a big impact on how you sleep. Reducing noise, controlling light, adjusting airflow and making your bed comfortable are all ways you can improve your sleep environment to get better sleep.
Noise is a deterrent to good sleep. It brings you back to consciousness, which means starting the sleep process all over again. Going from consciousness to deep sleep doesn’t happen right away, which means losing out on the benefits of a full night’s sleep.
Using a fan helps mute noise throughout the night. If you prefer a different option, there are a variety of ways to use white noise that help mask sound you can’t control. Sounds of rain, thunderstorms and waves are commonly used to help mask external noise.
Humans wake up easily when light enters a room. This is a problem especially when the sun rises earlier in the summer months. Use thick curtains, blackout shades or curtain liners to help control light for months with brighter early mornings.
Light emitted from your smartphone or alarm clock is also a distraction. Keep your smartphone in a different room throughout the night. If you need it nearby, keep the screen side down. As for the alarm clock, keep it out of sight (yet still within reach).
Opening windows and keeping your bedroom door open lets fresh air flow in and out and makes your room less stuffy.
Temperature is a personal preference, but keeping your room cool helps you sleep. If you can, turn the air conditioning up before bed. If it’s a windier night, leave the windows open to allow air to flow through. Your body temperature drops when you’re asleep, so make sure you keep extra blankets or a sweater nearby should it get too cold.
Love Your Bed
One of the best things you can do to have a good sleep turns out to be the easiest. Love the room you sleep in. A calm bedroom influences your mood and helps get you ready for sleep. A messy room causes stress, so take a few minutes to make your bed and tidy up. You’ll feel more peaceful as a result. Also, finding comfortable pillows and blankets that look great makes going to bed feel as good as it looks.
Getting Ready for Bed
Being in the right frame of mind is helpful when trying to sleep. Here are activities to avoid before getting ready for bed.
Using screen-technology: It‘s easy to lose track of time when you’re online, and staring at a bright screen right before bed makes it harder to fall asleep. Laptops, smartphones and tablets stimulate the brain and make it difficult to wind down after putting them away. The same thing applies to watching television. Avoid using screen-technology at least an hour before calling it a night and you’ll have an easier time falling asleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night.
Exercising: Getting exercise is important. Just make sure to stop a few hours before going to bed. Exercise gives you natural energy that won’t wear off easily, which makes it difficult to fall asleep after a good workout.
Have a calm, dedicated space meant specifically for sleeping, without distractions.
Taking a hot bath or shower: A hot bath is a great way to relax. However, overheating impacts your ability to fall asleep. Give yourself a bit of time to cool down before going to bed.
Take a few deep breaths slowly to relax before getting into bed.
Working: Sometimes, there’s not enough time in the day to finish what you’re working on. It takes time for your brain to turn off after work. Always allow yourself mental downtime between work and sleep.
Don’t think about stressful situations before bed.
Eating too much: Having a meal before bed isn’t recommended. If you’re hungry, try keeping it to a light snack. Make sure to give yourself time to digest before going to bed. This way, you can fall asleep without the discomfort of a full stomach.
Sleep Fact: Young adults can go through the full sleep cycle up to five times in one night.
Getting your children to bed: Establishing an evening routine helps make sure your children get the sleep they need. Their routine should be relaxing. It could include a warm bath and listening to gentle music in a peaceful environment. This can also include soft lighting, comfortable accessories (sheets, pillows, comforters) and a mattress that breathes well to prevent overheating throughout the night. This helps calm children down and prepares them for sleep.
How Sleep Works
There are two separate aspects to sleep, Cycles and Stages. Cycles happen throughout the night and are measured in time, whereas Stages are the depth of which we experience the Cycle we’re in. There are four stages in the sleep process. Each of these stages are vital to living well as they help rejuvenate our minds and bodies. The stages are Consciousness, Grey Sleep, Deep Sleep, and REM sleep.
What Happens When You Sleep
The body and mind are affected differently throughout the different sleep cycles. The first two cycles have a physical impact and the third is a transition between physical and mental rejuvenation. In the fourth and fifth cycles, the main focus is mental rejuvenation. Cognitive and creative capacities of the mind are replenished and are the final benefits experienced.
Grey Sleep: Experienced throughout the different sleep cycles. It offers no specific mental or physical benefits.
The First Cycle: From Consciousness to Deep Sleep
Before going to bed, your body temperature lowers. This is usually triggered by the absence or reduction of light. This cycle begins even when you’re still conscious. You then fall into Grey Sleep, followed by Deep Sleep. Most of your time in the first cycle is spent in Deep Sleep, but you also experience episodes of Grey Sleep while transitioning into the full Deep Sleep cycle.
Sleep Fact: Waking up with a fear of falling happens during the first cycle. Your body is still alert enough to react to what your mind is thinking about.
The Second Cycle: Deep Sleep
In the second sleep cycle, you spend most of your time in Deep Sleep, which begins the body rejuvenation process. Brain activity is close to none as the focus is on the body. Cells rejuvenate, muscles repair themselves and the body as a whole is regenerating.
There are factors that keep you from reaching Deep Sleep, such as having medication or alcohol in your system. Substances like these make it hard to reach a deep sleep, and the body remains in Grey Sleep. This means missing out on the physical benefits that Deep Sleep offers.
Sleep Fact: 25% of your sleep can be spent in Deep Sleep.
The Third Cycle: Transition
In this cycle, we move back and forth between Deep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep. In the Transition phase, you go through episodes of Deep Sleep and REM sleep. But most of the time is spent in Grey Sleep. This cycle is where you transition from physical to mental rejuvenation.
Sleep Fact: You reach Deep Sleep much faster when you’re sleep deprived.
The Fourth Cycle: REM Sleep
The fourth cycle is when focus shifts from body to mind. Only vital organs remain active as the rest of the body is nearly paralyzed. This is where brain activity peaks. The mind begins to deal with cognitive information collected throughout the day. Emotions, information and situations are sorted and events are stored in memory. This cycle is the most important for teenagers and young adults attending school. What they learn throughout the day is stored in the mind during REM sleep. This is similar to how hard drives work in computers. You can store, move and remove information. It’s all done subconsciously, but works better on a full sleep.
Creative people need to make sure they experience the full benefits of REM sleep. Ideas are known to come about during this stage, so it’s important to get a full sleep that takes advantage of the creative capacities of the mind.
Sleep Fact: REM sleep makes up for 25% of time spent asleep.
The Fifth Cycle: REM Sleep and Waking Up
The fifth cycle is considered a transition stage between being asleep and awake. Most of this cycle is spent dreaming in REM sleep. Natural light triggers the body temperature to rise, which causes us to wake up. In the fifth cycle, it’s common to feel like you’re waking up in the middle of a dream.
What is enough sleep?
Myth: The older you get, the less sleep you need.
Fact: It’s a reality for some, but this only applies for a small percentage of people. A good night’s sleep for most of us is between seven and nine hours per night.
You’ll be able to tell when you’re sleep-deprived. Some signs are poor digestion, emotional dullness and oversensitivity. If you’re feeling sleep-deprived, think back to the past few nights. Keep in mind, hours of lost sleep add up. Every hour of lost sleep needs to be made up eventually. This means that it takes more than one night to make up for lost sleep. In fact, it can take several.