Sleep is Extremely Important for Your Health
Sleep is important. It plays a vital role in good health and well being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep can improve and protect your physical health, safety, mental health and will improve the quality of your life.
It helps your brain to work properly. It improves learning.
In children and teens it helps support growth and development, particularly deep sleep.
Sleep like this baby! Every night we undergo a remarkable change. We leave our waking, conscious body for hours….. Why? What happens to our minds, our brains?
Why do we sleep?
Researchers think it is to assist the body to be restored, renewed, healed and rejuvenated.
Different brain wave patterns or frequencies are associated with creativity, memory, super learning, overcoming habits, fears, phobias, inspiration, problem solving and boosting immune system functioning.
How much do you need?
• • Infants require about 16 hours a day.
• • Teenagers 9 hours on average.
• • Most adults 7-8 hours but range from 5 to 10 hours a day.
If you are feeling drowsy during the day, you haven’t had enough, say the experts.
What is sleep?
Most find it hard to define!
• • It is described often as a period of reduced activity
• • Is associated with lying down and with eyes closed
• • There is a decreased responsiveness to the world around us.
What is happening when we sleep?
Over the last 60 years or so, research has shown that the brain remains active, very active during sleep. Scientists developed a way to record brain wave activity with EEG’s. (electroencephalograms).
Over time, instruments to measure eye movements and muscle activity added to a better knowledge of cycles and patterns of sleep.
We know the two main types of sleep are REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and Non-REM (sometimes shown as N-REM).
REM, often called active sleep, is identified by small fast brain waves and alpha rhythms. We usually have REM sleep several times a night. When woken from REM sleep, people often report vivid, sometimes bizarre dreams. This happens far less when awakened from N-REM sleep.
N-REM is further divided into N1, N2 and N3 stages. Through this progression from N1 to N3 the brainwaves become slower and the eyes remain still. This is called deep or slow wave sleep.
N1 is a relatively light.
N2 is middle sleep and is usually restorative.
N3 is slow wave deep sleep and is the most restorative of all.
Our sleep cycles or stages don’t necessarily follow a fixed pattern. We may go through various stages or cycles in a night. N-REM and REM sleep generally alternate but initially may only be for 5-15 minutes. Later cycles may last for 90-120 minutes.
Sometimes some of the levels may not be repeated. Scientists don’t know why but an individual’s own “clock”, exercise, stress, light, temperature, and the use of drugs or alcohol can all influence sleep patterns.
Sleep and Brain Waves
We have 5 levels of brainwave frequencies.
From higher frequencies to lowest we have
Gamma waves 40 Hz or higher fear, consciousness, problem solving, perception
Beta waves 13-40 Hz active, anxious thinking, arousal, active concentration
Alpha waves 7-13 Hz relaxation(while awake), pre-sleep, pre-awake drowsiness
Theta waves 4-7 Hz dreams, REM sleep, deep meditation
Delta waves 4 hz and lower deep sleep, dreamless sleep, loss of body awareness
For a good deep sleep we need to go into Alpha and Theta brain wave frequencies and into Delta waves……….our deep sleep and the sleep that really restores us. This can happen naturally, or be aided with specific audio tracks designed to do this that also include binaural beats. More on these techniques later. You will have happy brainwaves and an excellent sleep!
In trying to get some deep restful sleep that restores, we need to move away from Beta and Gamma frequencies as we don’t want stimulation when wishing for sleep.
Your Sleep Environment
Noise We have all experienced that dripping tap, some blaring music or a barking dog late at night. These can be very disruptive to a good night’s sleep, but occasional disturbances we can live with. Some solutions are obvious. Fix that tap. Ask the neighbours if the music/noise can be lowered.
Sometimes we are used to regular noises as we go to sleep, and their absence will cause us to have trouble getting to sleep. For example the regular ticking of a bedside clock, or for a city person, the absence of traffic sounds means we can’t sleep.
Sleep Surface We do adjust to temporary or slight changes to what we sleep on. If you are generally unhappy with your mattress or bed, you need to explore other options. Being comfortable is very important. Try firmer support or softer until this is no longer an issue.
Light-Dark We all have body clocks called circadian rhythms that influence our sleeping and waking patterns, our alertness and more. Our body clock is influenced by being in the sunlight and this is particularly important in winter in the very northern countries. Our eyes have photoreceptors that detect light and signal that we should be alert, watchful and awake. So our brain sets our rhythms or frequencies according to our exposure to light. How light or dark is your bedroom? Is this a factor as to why you can’t sleep?
Temperature Generally we need to be “not too hot” and “not too cold”. What does this mean? Your body will tell you. Normally temperatures above 75 degrees F and below 54 degrees F will waken people. You would have worked out what suits you by now , and how to change what you can, to suit your needs.
Altitude This may be a big factor in disrupting your sleep if you are a traveler, or worker who goes to altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. At this level the oxygen available is less than what we are used to. This will affect our breathing and sleeping. It most certainly would be a reason as to why you can’t sleep. Most people adjust to new altitudes in two to three weeks.
Problems Sleeping? Visit Sleep Problems!
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