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Do you have sleep problems such as trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Learn about the differences between light sleep and slow-wave sleep and how to sleep better by making a few adjustments to your lifestyle.
Sue tries to get in bed by 11.30 pm every night to get her seven hours of sleep. She then struggles to fall asleep for the next hour or so. She has difficulty staying asleep and often wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet. At the same time, every day at 6.30 am, the alarm goes off and she hits the snooze button. By 7 am, she’s made herself a big cup of coffee—the first of many for the day. She gets through the day constantly battling yawns and refilling her coffee mug. The cycle repeats.
If this scenario is familiar to you, then you may not be getting the quality sleep that you need. Experts tell us that the
long-term effects of sleep deprivation can affect us negatively in several ways.
There are several stages in your sleep cycle, alternating between NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Each complete sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes and repeats several times throughout the night.
NREM sleep is composed of three different stages. In stage 1, you experience light sleep and can be woken easily. In stage 2, you start becoming disengaged from your surroundings and your body temperature begins to drop. In stage 3, you enter deep sleep (also known as slow-wave sleep), whereby your breathing slows down and your muscles relax. Experts believe that this stage is critical to restorative sleep, allowing for bodily recovery and growth. It may also bolster the immune system and other key bodily processes.
During the last stage which is REM sleep, your brain is most active, nearing levels when you are awake. REM sleep is believed to be essential to cognitive functions such as memory and learning.
Having stressed the importance of sleep, here are some simple tips on natural sleep remedies that you can incorporate to hopefully achieve more restful sleep.
The Importance of Sleep
Try and aim for
150 minutes of physical activity per week and
10,000 steps daily for a healthier you.
Do not underestimate the benefits that a comfortable environment can do for your sleep. If your surroundings are noisy, play white noise, nature sounds or calming music to mask the noise. Shades, eye masks, and earplugs are other things you can use to help achieve a cool, dark and quiet environment.
It might also be a good idea to start a bedtime ritual to get yourself ready for bed. Try winding down by dimming the bright lights, listening to soft music, reading a book or taking a warm bath. If you still can’t fall asleep, try listening to soothing music—or noise—such as white noise or nature sounds. Try each of these and see which you respond to the best.
Catch Your Zzzs: Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
Finally, making some changes to your diet may help to improve your sleep. Avoid heavy meals just before bedtime. Also cut down on your caffeine as it is a stimulant that can keep you awake. Do avoid alcohol as well as it can dehydrate you and disrupts your sleep by making you wake up in the middle of the night to get a drink.
For more dietary tips to improve sleep, check out this article.
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This article was last reviewed on
Thursday, June 17, 2021
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