The quality of your sleep, and how much you get, is vitally important because it makes an impact on your health. Lack of sleep can affect your safety, if you have to drive or operate machinery, as well as your ability to concentrate, and, therefore, learn. Further, a bad night’s sleep can result in memory malfunctions. It’s safe to say that sleep deprivation can affect your quality of life generally as well as your health and wellbeing.
The sleep cycle
You might be surprised to learn that your body and brain don’t, in fact, switch off during sleep – there are different stages you go through that are represented by a healthy sleep cycle. In total, most adults who are healthy will function best when they get between 7 1/2 – 9 1/2 hours of sleep every night. There are variations for children and teenagers, while older adults may make up for a shorter night’s sleep by napping during the day.
Your sleep cycle is composed of REM and non-REM stages. REM is an acronym for Rapid Eye Movement – an indication that you are in deep sleep and dreaming. When sleep begins, you begin to drift off and experience light sleep; the next stage is sinking into deep sleep when awakening is difficult, and your brain waves have slowed down (all non-REM stages). Finally, you reach the REM stage of the sleep cycle, and dreaming occurs. Of course, this is not a one-way process – you actually move in and out of the early stages of non-REM through the later stages, including deep sleep, several times during the course of a single night.
If you’re keen to make the most of your opportunities for deep sleep, start with your bedroom environment. Let’s assume you already have a comfortable bed with a good quality mattress. Also, lots has been said by experts about keeping work out of the bedroom, as well as blue light gadgets – this means, for example, no television sets, tablets and laptops, Instead focus on controlling room lighting so you can create the right atmosphere.
To do this, consider installing solid shutters so you can ensure the room is completely dark in the evenings and brighter during daylight hours. Use bedroom lighting that is soft if you want to read a book or listen to music before sleep. Opt for comfortable rugs on the floor that will minimise noise and feel great underfoot as you make your way to bed.
Deep sleep is the most essential ingredient in your ideal sleep cycle. This is when the body builds up energy for the next day and restores itself. Deep sleep plays an essential role in maintaining your health and boosting your immune system. Getting the best quality deep sleep is therefore vital if you want to wake up refreshed and energised.
In short, pamper yourself properly in preparation for a wonderful, revitalising night’s sleep, and help both your brain and your body wind down gently.