Sleep is slowly becoming a rare commodity nowadays as our schedules become busier and the desire to do more while we can drives us to forego sleep completely. This is not right as we need sleep to allow our body to recuperate from our daily battles. It is therefore important that we know how to sleep better so we can do better.
But why do we need to sleep?
There are several theories about why humans need to sleep.
The first is because we need to. During the process of our evolution, we needed to lay low at night to avoid being hunted by predators that have higher activity during the night. The second is because we have to. We have to sleep in order for us to replenish our energy reserves and conserve the energy we have left after a full day of work. Sleep also allows the body to heal any ailment and improve our immune system.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation occurs when our body does not get enough sleep after a period of time. The symptoms are hard to pinpoint as they may be the symptom of some other ailment but taking note of these symptoms and analyzing their root cause can help determine if you are sleep deprived.
Anger and Irritability - Sleep deprived individuals are often irritable and their tempers are often more short-fused than usual.
Impaired Memory Function - Cognitive and learning ability is severely impaired if you lack sleep. The brain will not be able to process complex functions in a deprived state.
Compromised Decision Making - Decisions made after a full sleep produce better results as compared decision made while sleep deprived.
Increased Health Risks - As explained earlier, having less sleep every night prevents the body from recuperating fully and this impairment can lead to higher risks of the following medical conditions:
• Diabetes – sugar is not fully processed and we tend to binge on sugary drinks while trying to stay awake.
• Heart Problems – sleep deprivation can cause irregularity with our cardiovascular system as the heart will be pumping more blood at a longer duration. Sleep allows the heart to beat a little slower so it can rest but staying awake all night and lacking sleep makes it beat faster leading to heart complications in the long run.
• Obesity – lacking sleep makes our reflexes and body systems slow down, this results in us feeling lazier than usual and lack of exercise can lead to weight gain ultimately resulting in obesity.
The Sleep Cycle
The sleep cycle is a 90-minute cycle composed of four phases that comprise the different stages of sleep. Stages 1 and 2 are called “transition” as you move from the “awake” stage into sleep and normally occur 10-20 minutes after falling asleep. Stages 3 and 4 are called “deep sleep” and this is when our heart rate slows down and our body remains still. Stage 5 is called REM or Rapid Eye Movement Stage and this is where dreams occur. The brain has the most activity during this stage and this is also said to be the stage where our systems truly restart and recuperate.
Natural Sleep Remedies
Here are some best practices you can use to gain better sleep:
• Meditate – breathing exercises naturally allows the body to slow down as we achieve complete relaxation, making it easier for sleep to come.
• Rituals – some people have rituals that they do before bedtime and these rituals signal the body that they are about to take their rest. Examples of these are brushing your teeth, combing your hair, massaging your feet, etc.
• Read – reading an actual book helps the body relax and the mind active. Try to stay away from adventure books before bedtime as they will stimulate your imagination delaying sleep as a result.
• Write – sometimes summarizing what happened during the day helps us feel accomplished and it helps us prepare for the next day. The knowledge that we have taken care of things brings on relaxation which leads to sleep.
• Standardize – try to maintain a standard bedtime, the body will adjust to these times.
• Unplug – light coming from electronic devices stimulate the receptors in our eyes and can disrupt your natural rhythm.
There are also home remedies for sleep that can make dreamland seem so close. The smell coming from aromatherapy kits allow us to relax and fall asleep faster. Chamomile tea has also been proven to be a gift for insomniacs. And who could forget about milk? When we were kids we usually would be allowed a glass of warm milk before bedtime and the natural goodness and flavor of milk is relaxing and makes for a good night cap as well.
Applying these remedies and quick hit solutions is up to your discretion but make sure read up and consult experts before trying them out as remedies have different effects on different people and you would not want to waste time and resources on something that would not work.
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