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Health & Sports

Getting the Most Out of Your Sleep

best sleep aid

Trouble Sleeping

If you have trouble sleeping and are looking for the best sleep aid, then I have some tips for you. Sleep is essential to your health, so take it seriously. Sleep is fundamental to our wellbeing, both mentally and physically. While much of its function still remains mysterious, we understand that sleep works as a tool to convert short-term memory into long-term, clearing the brain’s short-term memory storage. The brain has a limited amount of energy and so this process is paramount in rejuvenating brain function.

While some people can fall asleep within a blink of an eye, others struggle. To help those who struggle, we will go over how sleep works and some general tips to get better rest.

Sleep Stages

There are five stages of sleepEach stage is associated with different brain waves and the successful passage of the stages results in a sleep cycle.

  • The first stage is light sleep, the initial period whereby you begin to drift off. This is when you can be awakened most easily,
  • The second stage is short, lasting around twenty minutes. Our temperature drops here and our heart rate slows.
  • Stage three signals the emergence of Delta Waves, triggering what is known as slow-wave sleep. This is the period where the brain enters deep sleep.
  • Stage four produces Delta Waves almost exclusively. During this time, the body remains in a deep sleep for typically an hour.
  • Stage five or REM is where most dreaming occurs, people experience Rapid Eye Movement as well as increased brain activity and dreaming.

These stages are supported and regulated by our sleep-wake cycle, often referred to as circadian rhythm, which themselves are influenced by our daily changes in mental and physical processes. The greatest impacts on our sleep-wake cycle are light, temperature and melatonin levels. As each is altered during our day they, in turn, affect our night of rest.

trouble sleeping

Sleep’s Importance

Despite sleep’s importance to our health, it can be difficult to optimize and a poor night’s rest is not uncommon for many. A widespread influencer of our sleep quality is the light emitted from electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, and televisions, which actually mimic sunlight, tricking our brains into thinking it is still daytime. This is why, when it comes to falling asleep, it becomes difficult. While there are options available to adjust the type of light emitted from your devices, where possible, try avoiding these items for at least an hour before bed.

Sleeping positions are another commonly overlooked, yet important, issue. Sleeping on a certain type of mattress, such as a boxspring, is not always optimum for your sleeping position, such as those who sleep on their side. Being unaware of your sleep position and the type of mattress you have will undoubtedly lead to a worse night’s sleep. For example, if you sleep on your side it could be worth looking into a mattress for side sleepers, one that adapts to the shape of your body, instead of resisting its pressure points.

best sleep aid

Best Sleep Aid

Being conscientious of sleep cycles is also helpful. Each cycle typically takes around 90 minutes and drifts between deeper and shallow sleep. You will feel most refreshed when waking up at the end of a cycle rather than in the middle when it is deepest. Achieving this is possible with the help of applications or, more simply, you can give yourself a larger window within which to wake up, instead of forcing yourself awake at a set time.

Meditating or listening to calming music can help you enter deep, restorative sleep. It encourages your muscles to relax and quiet your thoughts before bed. Mental stimulation, such as stress or entertainment, keeps the brain and body active, extending the time it takes to fall asleep. While this may not pose a problem on a single night, overtime your sleep-wake cycle will become disrupted and you’ll begin to experience a drop in wellness.

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By Bill Sweeney

Bill is a guy that's been working at home since 2008. What does that mean? It means he runs a business, has a blog, takes care of the kids and house, and doesn't really have much more time left in the day. Piece of cake, but wouldn't have it any other way.

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