Have you ever felt tired, even after sleeping for nine or ten hours? Sleep is something we do spontaneously and instinctively. Most of us can sleep, but not all of us sleep efficiently.
Since it's such a fundamental part of our health, it's considered essential to sleep efficiently. Efficient sleep is when you're sleeping soundly and not just tossing and turning in bed. Some people might lie in bed for nine hours but only get five hours of sound restorative sleep which may result in fatigue symptoms the following day.
The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase is the most critical part of efficient sleep. It is also the sleep period when your brain processes your thoughts and memories, learning and putting them into perspective for you. REM sleep also plays a crucial role in overcoming difficult or traumatic events. So, entering the REM stage of sleep is essential during times of crisis.
There are a few strategies to use for getting adequate REM sleep.
Firstly, try to limit your use of the snooze button. Giving yourself an extra hour or half-hour of sleep in the morning is good, but you won't benefit from the extra rest if it's disturbed every 10 minutes by the snooze alarm. Ideally, set your alarm to go off at the latest possible time and allow yourself to get as much sleep as you can.
You should also limit your exposure to artificial light before bed. Artificial light has a negative impact on the release of melatonin as it starts to get dark and can therefore upset the regulation of your sleep cycle. If you read before bed, it is best to use a small reading lamp. It is best to avoid TV, looking at a tablet or smartphone or going on the computer within an hour or so of bedtime.
While 24-hour access gyms are great for shift workers, it is generally recommended not to exercise vigorously within three hours of going to bed. The nervous system needs time to wind down to allow the body to enter a sleep state, and exercise may delay this important process. A gentle walk after dinner is good, but pounding the treadmill for half an hour and then trying for a bench press PB may not be a good idea.
A good night's sleep impacts your health in many ways. Research has shown that people with low sleep efficiency are 5.5 times more likely to develop a cold than efficient sleepers. Efficient sleep is also essential to assist in the recovery from illness and disease.
For more about sleep and tips on eating and moving well, check out Tim Rath's book Eat, Move, Sleep
In good health,
Image by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay