Who doesn’t like a good night’s sleep. You wake up energized, refreshed, feeling great both mentally and
physically. Ready for the day.
Poor sleep not only hurts the body but negatively effects the brain as well. Almost 60% of adults report sleep problems, from un-restful sleep, stress, to sleep apnea. Only 37% of ADULTS GET THE RECOMMENDED hours of sleep every night. Almost half of sleep problems are stress related.
HOW WE SLEEP
The diagram below simulates how your brain regulates our circadian rhythm or master clock and the impact.
Eyes >>> light passes through >>> stimulates the suprachiasmatic nucleus regulating circadian rhythm >> and inhibits melatonin and stabilizes all night until interrupted by morning light. >> Morning light enters the eyes and resets with increase in cortisol from the adrenal gland. This cycle keeps you biological clock synced.
THE FIVE STAGES OF SLEEP
The first Stage and second Stage happen when you fall asleep or in a light sleep phase. This cycle takes 90 minutes on average. Stage three and stage four you enter a deep, restful sleep. Here your respiration lowers and your heart rate lowers. Stage five is when your brain is active, when you dream. This Entire Stage ! Through 5 take 90 minutes then is repeated.
Deep and restful sleep has a major physiologic effect. Here (REM Sleep) your body experiences increased blood flow to the muscle, tissue grown and repair happen, immune system repair takes place, hormones are released and regulated such as Leptin, growth hormone, ghrelin (for appetite regulation), UV damage to skin is repaired. This REM Cycle improved memory, consolidates long term memory, motor skills. During REM sleep your brain cells actually shrink. It is believed this allows the brains cerebrospinal fluid to flush out the small crevices and wash away toxins and waste products. Products such as proteins that can build up and are responsible for neurological disorders.
I always think of the 5 stages to the sleep cycle like the Borg Regeneration Cycle in the Star Trek TV show. Kind of a geeky analogy but this cycle for us Physical beings it is essential for proper healing and health.
HOW MUCH SLEEP IS ENOUGH
Most adults need seven to nine hours each night. After 18 years of age can become more individualized. A New born needs up to 20 hours a day while a 10 year old need about 10 hours a day.
5 TIPS TO BETTER SLEEP
Ø Don’t eat dinner after 630pm. This can lead to digestive problems and interferes with the five stages to sleep cycle.
Ø Put technology away a few hours before bed. Let your brain tune down free of all stimuli.
Ø Turn off all the lights, cellphone screens, TV, clock lights (should be RED light), remember that excess light interferes with the 5 stages of sleep. During REM your eyes flutter and expose the eyes to light.
Ø Go to sleep at the same time every night, this sets a pattern for your body and creates more restful and rejuvenated sleep.
Ø Make sure the bed and pillow support restful, comfortable sleep. If you keep waking because the mattress and pillow are nor supportive and comfortable then you interfere with the sleep cycles, shortening them or never Entering REM sleep.
If you snore or your partner keeps nudging you because you do, and feel un-restful sleep then mention this to your primary care at your next physical and have a checkup for possible sleep apnea. Try not to take sleep medications long term as they can lead to disruption of diurnal cortisol levels. We advocate lifestyle changes first to correcting poor sleep.