Sleep and Why You Need to Improve It


Sleep is a physiological process, the mechanisms of which have a direct impact on health. The necessary time of sleep is determined by the individual characteristics of the body and its daily biorhythms.

Age is of great importance. Scientists have found that older people sleep less than younger people and get up at dawn. Although it’s still unknown whether the primary cause is decreased need for sleep or insomnia.

Chronic sleep deprivation has negative consequences:

  • Headache.
  • Constant fatigue.
  • Cardiovascular diseases.
  • Disorders of the digestive system.
  • Visual impairment.

According to scientists, people who lack adequate rest are more prone to viral infections. Many have increased irritability.

Internal processes of the human body are interconnected. To fall asleep faster, it’s important not to overeat – so experts recommend having dinner 4 hours before bedtime. The presence of food in the stomach negatively affects the quality of rest. In the morning, a person has swelling, headaches, and heartburn.

It’s also necessary to go to bed with a relaxed nervous system. It’s important to avoid stressful situations.

Previously, researchers believed that the best time to sleep is from 10 pm to morning. Now scientists emphasize the importance of each person’s biorhythms. Scientists distinguish between three types of people:

  • “Larks” wake up at dawn and are most active in the first half of the day. It’s believed that such people need to go to bed no later than 9 pm.
  • “Owls” feel comfortable at night. Waking up in the morning is problematic for them. The optimal time for falling asleep is the period from 12 pm to 3:00 in the morning. A brisk awakening will be assured if one gets up around 12 noon. Such people prefer playing roulette online or working at night instead of sleeping.
  • “Pigeons” combine the previous two types and change the rhythm depending on the situation. Such people easily fall asleep at 10 pm, and for a full rest they have 8 hours.

The “larks” experience the most difficulties. Changes in the usual schedule of the day are accompanied by health problems. The biorhythms of “owls” demonstrate stability. However, regular lack of sleep can lead to stress and development of chronic diseases. “Pigeons” adapt to any rhythm. Transitions don’t affect their health.

How Much Time a Person Needs to Sleep

The information a person receives during the day is assimilated during a night’s rest. In parallel, the nervous system and physical performance are restored.

The duration of rest should be in accordance with age. Also the quality of sleep is influenced by such factors as:

  • Comfortable microclimatic parameters, such as optimal temperature and humidity.
  • Comfortable pajamas and bedding.
  • The oxygen saturation of the air in the room.

Four Phases of Sleep

One sleep cycle includes slow and fast phases, together they last from 1 to 1.5 hours. A complete rest consists of 4 to 6 such cycles.

Sleepiness and apathy usually accompany people who wake up during the slow phase of sleep.

The theory of cycles is that the duration of rest should be a multiple of 1.5 hours. In order to wake up awake and rested, it is necessary to calculate the time of awakening correctly. In doing so, it is necessary to take into account the period of time spent falling asleep. Rest should include 4 cycles, which are fully completed no earlier than 4 am. In this case, the human body will accumulate enough energy for waking up.

Period Between Wakefulness and Sleep

The stage of slow sleep comes first. The transition from waking state to rest is accompanied by drowsiness. The duration of this period is on average 5 to 15 minutes. If a person needs less time to fall asleep, he or she should go to bed earlier, and take more time per day to sleep and rest.

Stage of Falling Asleep

Next comes the second stage of sleep. During the night, the human body stays in the light sleep stage for about 50% of the time. This is a slow rest, but not in its deepest manifestations. Periods of light sleep may last about 20 minutes.

Deep Sleep

After a person has fallen asleep, the duration of deep and moderately deep sleep (or delta sleep) increases closer to morning. During the first cycle, delta sleep is observed for 40 minutes, then gradually decreases. In total, stages 3 and 4 take up to 15-20% of all rest time in one night. After the end of stage 2, the rapid phase of sleep comes. It is activated last in the cycle. This period is sometimes called Stage 5 sleep.

Paradoxical Sleep

Rapid and light sleep increases in time as dawn approaches. At the beginning of rest, this period takes about 5-10 minutes and increases to 30-40 minutes at the end of the cycle. The rapid rest stage takes up to 25% of the total sleep time in total. Then stage 2 sleep, delta sleep, light, fast sleep, and light sleep come again. The phases alternate in a circular pattern. Another option is also possible, when REM sleep alternates with awakening.

When to Go to Bed and Wake up

The fourth stage of full deep sleep in the first cycle occurs approximately 40-50 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep replaces this stage after 1.5 hours. Depending on the duration of sleep phases and individual physiological needs, the norm for the average person is 3-6 cycles of sleep during the night. Some people sleep for 3-4 hours, while others need more than 10 hours.

The theory of cycles doesn’t always work correctly in practice. If a person miscalculates the timing of the onset of the REM sleep phase, morning awakening will be difficult. Somnology, i.e., the science of sleep, emphasizes the importance of the timing of falling asleep as well as the conditions for going to sleep:

  • Self-observation of the body is necessary. Throughout the day, a person goes through several stages of fatigue and energy surges. Severe fatigue in the evening signals the need to go to bed. It is necessary to fix this period of time and build a sleep schedule.
  • It’s necessary to fall asleep quickly, which will be facilitated by an appropriate atmosphere. It’s necessary to ventilate the room, eliminate extraneous sounds, relax and take a comfortable sleeping position. Effective ways to relax are baths with herbs, drinking a little warm milk with honey.
  • Intensive exercise in the evening should be avoided. You should also reduce the use of the computer or phone. Refusal will allow you to calm down and fall asleep quickly.
  • The period of falling asleep is determined personally, based on the biological rhythm. Experts note that the body recovers better before midnight. Therefore, the time of falling asleep should be no later than 12 pm.

You should go to sleep and get up at a strictly set time. This rule should be followed not only during the working week, but also on weekends. In this way, the body will develop a habit that guarantees proper rest throughout the night.

How to Get up Easily in the Morning

When one naturally wakes up, one feels awake all day long. Sleepiness can be a consequence of staying in bed for a long time in the morning. Here are some simple tips to help you wake up easily in the morning:

  • The optimal time of awakening is 9 a.m., but to a greater extent this period is determined by individual habits, the characteristics of the body and other circumstances.
  • If it’s necessary to get up by the alarm clock, prefer soft and non-aggressive melodies: calm unhurried music with a gradual increase in volume will help to put you in a positive mood.
  • Sunlight helps you wake up faster, so immediately after waking up, you should open the curtains.

Exercise After Bedtime

The key to a productive day is a vigorous morning. Getting up in the early hours will help boost vitality and energize you. In the long run, following this habit will help improve your health.

Morning exercise is a set of simple physical exercises that involve all muscle groups. Such procedures do not take much time and do not require special physical training. The benefits of exercise after bedtime:

  • Quick awakening.
  • Activation of brain activity.
  • Improvement of heart and vascular function.
  • Restoration of lymph flow.
  • Joints gain mobility.
  • The body gets toned up.
  • The oxygen supply of tissues and organs improves.
  • The spine is restored and the posture strengthens.

Regular exercise in the morning is an effective prevention of cardiovascular disease, diseases of the spine and musculoskeletal system. Morning exercise is beneficial to health and longevity. It’s important to properly distribute the load and perform exercises according to the recommendations of experts:

  • Start exercising after waking up, you can start stretching right in bed. Avoid sudden movements.
  • Don’t exhaust the body with high loads. The aim of the exercises is to tone up the body. The average time of exercise is 10-15 minutes. You should start with 5-7 minutes.
  • Keep an eye on the total body weight, without focusing only on problem areas. It is enough to do 5 exercises for all muscle groups. They will help to wake up and feel invigorated.
  • Exercises should be performed in a well ventilated room. The flow of oxygen will help the brain to wake up quickly. If possible, exercise in the fresh air in suitable weather conditions.
  • End the exercise with a contrast shower in the absence of contraindications to such a procedure. Such a solution will help to cheer up, strengthen the cardiovascular system and immunity.

Many people don’t feel enough motivation to start exercising in the morning. Cheerful rhythmic music can help distract you from negative thoughts about the upcoming workout.

Give up Your Smartphone in the First 20 Minutes

Life today is hard to imagine without phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets. People start their mornings by looking at emails, messages, history and news on social networks. With the help of the Internet you can get a huge amount of useful and not very necessary information. Such habits have a negative impact on morning awakening. Immersed in a smartphone, a person does not notice how time passes that should have been spent on morning exercise, a full breakfast and other useful procedures. Experts recommend turning off electronic gadgets for at least an hour in the morning so that the body has time to wake up, and the brain starts active work gradually, without being overloaded with information.

Avoid Sugar and Caffeine Before Bedtime

The first reason not to eat sweets before bedtime is to rapidly gain excess weight. Sugar-rich foods are pure carbs with which the body replenishes energy reserves. Calories are burned during the day and glucose consumption is minimal at night. At the same time, excess fat is stored in the body in the form of deposits in the waist, flanks and hips. Besides excess weight, sugar at night leads to other consequences:

  • Tooth decay.
  • Diabetes,
  • Hypertension.
  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Obesity of internal organs and other pathologies.

At the same time, there are foods that are less harmful when eaten before bedtime:

  • Bitter chocolate.
  • Honey.
  • Natural marmalade.

Sweets that have a strong negative effect on the body before going to bed:

  • Cakes and pastries.
  • Lollipops and chewy candies.
  • Chocolate bars.

In the afternoon, it’s recommended to refrain from consuming pure sugar, don’t not add it to food and drinks, including coffee.

Caffeine keeps you awake and reduces sleepiness. However, entering the body before going to sleep, the substance irritates the nervous system, which reduces the quality of rest. Experts advise against drinking coffee after 6 pm. The exceptions include “owls”. People of this type can afford a cup of drink until 8 pm. In this case, the time before falling asleep should not be less than 4 hours. During this time, the nervous system will be prepared for rest, and sleep will be strong and healthy.

The norms of sleep are conventional indicators. Each person has individual characteristics that determine the parameters of rest. Focusing on the average data, you can build a sleep schedule by yourself, and useful tips will help you to fall asleep quickly and wake up with a charge of energy for the whole day.

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About the Author: John Watson

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