How to Get More Deep Sleep
There are few things that affect our health and well-being quite like a good night’s sleep, and that’s why we’ll spend a little tie exploring exactly how to get more deep sleep. In the last twenty years, research in the field of sleep hygiene has helped sleep doctors use and develop many tools to help patients get a better night’s sleep. There are many types of sleep problems that can affect a person’s sleep. Sleep can be disturbed because the patient’s sleep cycle is not normal. Other patients may be hyperactive and only require a few hours of sleep at night. Some patients sleep plenty of hours but do not get restorative sleep. Other patients have a faulty sleep disorder called narcolepsy which causes patients to nod off at inopportune times. This sleep disorder can even prove to be dangerous.
IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP HYGIENE:
Sleep hygiene refers to all the habits surrounding the way a person sleeps. Sleep hygiene includes timing of sleep, room temperature, clothing, lighting and any other factor that affects the quality of sleep. Our bodies perform needed repairs during our daily sleep phases. When the sleep quality does not allow the person to make these repairs, serious health issues can occur. Many utilize the phrase “beauty sleep” when discussing the many benefits of sleep. Beauty can be affected by adequate sleep because overall health is improved. We will look at five interventions that can improve quality of sleep.
1. CONSIDER EFFECTS OF LIGHT ON SLEEP:
Practicing good sleep hygiene is very important to set the stage for getting a night of restorative sleep. The first item to examine is the room or setting where sleep happens. It is best to provide a bedroom that is dedicated to the act of sleep. The lights and sounds from televisions and computers can trick the brain into thinking that it is not yet time to sleep, causing a later sleep onset time. The lights from the monitors can actually cause signals deep within the brain to stay alert. A definite time for cessation of computer work and television watching should be set at least an hour before bedtime. You should also look into blue light blocking glasses, which have shown real promise in helping people get better sleep.
It is also equally important to get adequate light during the day. Some people do not get much outdoor time during the day and this can negatively affect their nighttime sleep. It is important to try to have exposure to daylight every day to help make the nighttime sleep cycle more beneficial.
2. KEEP BEDROOM TEMPERATURES ON THE COOL SIDE:
The temperature of the room can also make a difference for acquiring good sleep. It is always best to keep the bedroom a bit on the cool side. Studies have shown that the best sleep occurs when the room is dark and cool, around 60-67 degrees if possible. During Rapid Eye Movement or REM Sleep, the temperature-regulating cells of the body turn off for the night. This makes the temperature of the room much more important. Some people may even need to acquire cooling pajamas in order to sleep well and maintain the proper sleeping temperature. Some people enjoy a hot bath before bedtime. The reason for this is due to the temperature lowering effects a hot bath can have. After getting out of the warm bath, the body temperature begins to lower to get back to a regular temperature. Also, the evaporation of the drying water cools the skin further. This decrease in temperature is a signal to the body for sleep to begin.
3. REMEMBER TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
Many have trouble actually falling asleep once they get into bed. If this happens, experts recommend that people should only try to stay in bed and fall asleep for five to ten minutes. If sleep is still elusive, then it is best to get out of bed and get involved with a quiet task such as reading a book. It is best to avoid bright lights such as a computer or television so that the brain is not signaled to wake up further.
It is also important to keep daytime naps to about a half hour. Sleeping longer during naps can interrupt the nighttime sleeping cycle. Stimulants can also have a negative effect on sleep. Substances such as nicotine and caffeine should be discontinued several hours before bedtime so that they will not cause stimulation and prevent sleep from happening. Even alcohol is thought to have a stimulating effect after several hours. Exercise can also cause too much stimulation if done too close to bedtime. Each person is different, and it is best to see what exercise schedule works best with one’s particular sleep cycle. As a rule, it is best to exercise earlier in the day. However, it has been proven that even a period as small as ten minutes of aerobic exercise per day can definitely improve the benefits of nighttime sleep. So make sure to get in ten minutes a day of some type of aerobic-type exercise to improve sleep.
4. BE CAREFUL WITH SPICY FOODS:
Another important sleep zapper is eating spicy foods too close to bedtime. Lying down flat too soon after eating spicy food can cause spicy foods and stomach acid to come back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and indigestion. These stomach issues will definitely interrupt the sleep pattern at night. It is best to eat these kinds of foods earlier in the day if possible.
5. DEVELOP SLEEP ROUTINES:
It can be very beneficial to develop routines for the hours leading up to bedtime. These routines signal the brain that the time for sleep is coming soon. Activities such as light television watching (several hours before actual bedtime), reading and soaking in the tub are great pre-bedtime activities. Stretching exercises, meditation or relaxation techniques such as breathing are all good candidates for the pre-bedtime sleep routine. If stress is a problem that prevents sleep, develop the ritual of journal writing. Writing down all the things that cause worry and stress can help worriers symbolically “close the book” on worries at least until morning. The body produces cortisol during stressful times, which can prevent good sleep.
AND IF ALL ELSE FAILS, VISIT SLEEP PHYSICIAN:
If sleep is still not beneficial after trying all these techniques, it may be time to visit the sleep physician for a sleep study. These doctors are trained to watch patients as they actually sleep. Monitors and leads are hooked up to patients. Technicians watch oxygenation, REM sleep cycles, and other sleep indicators to help the physician diagnose sleep problems. If a patient is found to be suffering from a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea or narcolepsy, the physician can prescribe machines and medication to combat these problems. Patients are often amazed at the vast improvement of sleep after having these tests run. Some patients are not even aware they have a sleep problem until their spouse tells them they are snoring so loud they are shaking the rafters! If all else fails, be sure to mention sleep problems to your physician. Sleep disorders can cause serious problems with the heart and other body functions over time. Even though snoring is comical, it is often an indicator of a serious sleep issue.
The body relies on sleep to continuously repair and rejuvenate the body. If something interferes with sleep, these repairs may not take place. It is important to make sure to get adequate, quality sleep each and every night if at all possible. Make sure you get the best rest possible with these easy, enjoyable steps to provide the body with the rest and restoration it needs.
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