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Science Behind Sleep – How to Improve Sleep Quality?

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Getting quality sleep is the most important factor for staying healthy. It is because, during sleep, our body undergoes essential processes that boost energy levels, support cognitive functions, and enhance recovery and emotional resilience. 

Most people find it hard to get quality sleep, which leads to serious health consequences. According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults in the US are not getting enough sleep every day. 

Are you also struggling to get proper sleep at night? Stop worrying. In this blog, we will discuss different stages of sleep and important strategies to improve sleep quality.

Sleep And Its Importance 

Sleep is a natural body process associated with reduced activity and responsiveness to external stimuli. It is an altered state of consciousness that allows your body and mind to recover from daily stressors and increase energy conservation.

Quality sleep is responsible for improving your mood and reducing the risk of anxiety and depression. It also supports cardiovascular health, regulates blood sugar levels, boosts immunity, and strengthens memory and problem-solving skills.

According to research, adults should aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. In contrast, getting sleep less than 7 hours can lead to various health issues.

Stages Of Sleep Cycle 

Generally, a healthy sleep cycle has four stages. The first three stages are known as rapid eye movement (REM) or ‘quiet sleep,’ whereas the fourth stage is called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) or ‘active sleep.’

NREM Stage 1 

This is the initial and lightest stage of sleep in which there is a transition from wakefulness to sleep. It usually lasts for five to ten minutes.

During this stage, a person is in a state of drowsiness, and it prepares the body for deeper sleep stages.

Some characteristics of light sleep include:

  • Reduction in brain activity
  • Slow eye movements, heart rate, and breathing
  • Body muscles relax or may twitch occasionally

NREM Stage 2 

The second stage of NREM is also considered light sleep, but it is relatively deeper sleep than stage 1. It lasts for about 20 minutes and accounts for almost half of the total sleep time.

It is easy to wake a person from this stage.

During this sleep:

  • Brain waves slow down but are marked by powerful electrical activity
  • Heartbeat and breathing rate further slow down
  • Body temperature drops
  • Eye movements stop

NREM Stage 3 

The last stage of NREM sleep is the deep stage of sleep, is also known as delta or slow wave sleep. It is difficult to wake a person from a deep sleep; if they wake up, they feel disoriented.

NREM stage 3 sleep is crucial for physical restoration, repairing body tissues and muscles, boosting immunity, and other health-promoting tasks. When you get enough stage 3 sleep, it makes you feel refreshed and recharged in the morning.

During stage 3 sleep:

  • Brain waves become even slower
  • Heartbeat and breathing slow down to the lowest levels
  • Muscles are relaxed completely
  • No eye movements

REM Stage 4 

This is the final stage of the sleep cycle, which occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep. The majority of your dreams happen in this stage.

REM 4 stage plays a crucial role in emotional regulation and memory consolidation.

During this sleep:

  • Rapid movement of eyes behind closed highlights
  • Brain wave activity increases
  • Breathing becomes faster and more irregular
  • Blood pressure and heart rate increase
  • Body muscles are temporarily paralysed

Note: NREM and REM sleep alternate in a cyclic pattern throughout the night, and each sleep stage lasts for approximately 90 minutes and repeats four to five times.

Factors Affecting the Sleep Cycle 

Multiple factors can affect the quality of sleep, including age, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, physical discomfort, increased use of screens before bedtime, medications, and other health conditions.

Moreover, poor lifestyle choices such as absence of physical activity, cigarette smoking, excessive caffeine intake, dehydration, and unhealthy diet use can also interrupt sleep cycles.

Side Effects Of Sleep Deprivation 

Consistent lack of sleep can lead to short-term or long-term consequences, including:

  • Irritability, stress, anxiety, and mood swings
  • Impaired performance
  • Difficulty in concentrating, decision-making, and learning
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • Increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Hallucinations

Note: These side effects can vary from person to person depending upon the severity of the disrupted sleep cycle

Can You Really Catch Up on Sleep?

Do you want to recover from sleep deprivation and improve the quality and quantity of your sleep? Well, you can always catch up on sleep by practising sleep hygiene such as:

Stay Consistent with Your Sleep Cycle

Maintaining a consistent sleep cycle is a fundamental strategy for long-term sleep quality. Having a consistent sleep schedule regulates your body’s internal clock and makes it easier for your body to support the natural sleep-wake cycle.

So, establish a bedtime routine and stick to it even on weekends.

Take Short Daytime Naps

Sleeping for a short period during the day can contribute to improved sleep quality. A quick nap reduces the impact of insufficient sleep, maintains alertness, enhances learning, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood.

The optimal length to take a nap varies based on age, lifestyle, and overall health. However, the best nap length for adults is between 20 and 90 minutes. 

Naps of 10-20 minutes are considered power naps as they are most effective and Provide a quick energy boost without entering the deeper stages of sleep. A review concluded that taking a nap for less than 30 minutes during the day improves wakefulness, performance, and learning ability. In comparison, a 90-minute nap is considered a recovery nap, which makes up for lost sleep. These maps allow you to feel more focused and more physically energised.

Similarly, The timing of a nap can also impact its effectiveness. Experts recommend taking a nap earlier in the day to avoid difficulty sleeping at night.

So, experiment with different nap schedules to determine the most suitable time for your needs. 

Maintain Your Bedroom Temperature

Bedroom temperature plays a vital role in regulating the overall quality of sleep.

Maintaining a cooler temperature in your bedroom promotes relaxation and contributes to more restful sleep during deep sleep stages. Typically, a temperature around 20°C (70°F) is considered an ideal temperature for sleep.

A study was conducted to determine the relationship between bedroom nighttime temperature and sleep quality in older adults. The results showed that sleep was most effective in temperatures between 20°C and 25°C.

Optimise Your Bedroom Environment

Improve your bedroom environment by eliminating unwanted noise and lights. A cool, dark, and quiet room will promote your sleep quality.

Similarly, invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow to get adequate support and enhance overall comfort during sleep.

Avoid Eating in The Evening

Eating heavy meals before bedtime increases the activity of the digestive system, which can disrupt your deep sleep. Similarly, late-night snack stimulates the production of insulin, which increases alertness.

So, take your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime to improve sleep hygiene. However, choose a light snack if you feel hungry close to bedtime.

Minimise Caffeine Intake

Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which significantly worsens sleep quality. It reduces the amount of deep sleep and contributes to awakenings during the night. A study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime leads to disruptive effects on sleep.

So, it is better to limit caffeine intake to promote sleep hygiene, especially in the evening.

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical exercise improves sleep by reducing insomnia symptoms, regulating temperature, and maintaining your body’s internal clock. 

While exercise may be a good option to promote a good night’s sleep, performing it late at night can negatively affect sleep. So try to exercise early during the day. 

Use PEMF therapy 

PEMF therapy is a relatively new and safest method to improve sleep quality. It uses low-frequency electromagnetic waves that positively impact the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and induce relaxation. It also increases the production of sleep-regulating hormones, which are beneficial for altering destructive sleep patterns.

A clinical trial was done to determine the effectiveness of magnetic fields in treating insomnia. A total of 101 patients participated in this study, out of which 70% of patients showed significant improvement in their sleep. Moreover, there were no side effects of this therapy.

Invest In PEMF Biomat For a Better Sleep Cycle

PEMF tools down-regulate the CNS and put the body in the parasympathetic state, which makes them worth investing in. 

Are you looking for a high-quality PEMF device? Recovery Systems Sport brings you Biomat that are designed with innovative PEMF technology along with four other modalities that slow down your brain activity, allowing you to sleep better at night. 

Take Away

Sleep is a natural body process critical for maintaining overall health. You should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every day to avoid sleep debt. 

However, if you struggle to get quality sleep, invest in a PEMF device or follow sleep hygiene strategies to ensure adequate sleep. 

FAQs 

Can you recover from years of sleep deprivation?

You can recover from sleep deprivation by prioritizing sufficient rest and implementing sleep hygiene strategies Such as staying consistent with your sleep cycle, optimizing bet environment and temperature, minimizing caffeine intake, taking short naps, and exercising regularly.

 How bad is missing one night of sleep?

Missing one night of sleep causes acute sleep deprivation, leading to short-term negative effects such as impaired cognitive function, mood swings, decreased alertness, physical fatigue, and stress. 

Is 90 minutes a good nap time?

Yes, a 90-minute nap is considered a recovery nap, which makes up for lost sleep. These naps make you feel thoroughly rejuvenated, more focused, and physically energised.

How long should I nap after 3 pm?

If you plan to take a nap after 3 pm, then take a relatively short nap to minimize nighttime sleep problems. A power nap of 10-20 minutes would be enough to keep you refreshed and energised. 

 Is 22 degrees too hot to sleep?

Typically, a temperature around 20°C (70°F) is considered an ideal temperature for sleep. A study was conducted to determine the relationship between nighttime temperature and sleep quality in older adults. The results showed that sleep was most effective in temperatures between 20°C and 25°C.

 Is a 20 or 90-minute nap better?

The choice of nap length depends upon individual preferences and goals. If you want a quick refreshment and enhanced alertness, opt for a 20-minute nap. In contrast, a 90-minute nap is more effective in addressing sleep deficits.

Why does sleep improve with exercise?

Regular physical exercise improves sleep by reducing insomnia symptoms, regulating temperature, and maintaining your body’s internal clock.