A good night’s sleep regenerates the body and mind, gives the opportunity to “reset” after a hard day, strengthens the body’s immune system. According to specialists, not only its length but also its quality is important. In today’s article you will find an explanation of what a good sleep is and how to take care of it.
A good night’s sleep, or what kind of sleep?
The length of sleep a person needs for proper body function decreases with age:
- Newborns (0-3 months) need about 14-17 hours of sleep a day
- Infants (4-12 months) – approximately 12-16 hours
- Children ages 1 to 2 years – approximately 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (ages 3-5) – approximately 10-13 hours
- School age children (6-12 years) – about 9-12 hours
- Teens (ages 13-18) – approximately 8-10 hours
- Adults up to age 60 – approximately 7-9 hours
- Senior citizens (60+ years) – approximately 7-8 hours.
Not only the length, but also the quality of sleep is important. Its role is to regenerate your body, so you should feel rested when you wake up. If you often wake up during the night or after sleeping 7-8 hours you still feel tired, your sleep is not effective.
Many factors influence the proper sleep process. Good sleep depends on, among other things:
- mental and physical condition;
- what and how late you ate before bed;
- physical activity;
- temperature and humidity in the bedroom;
- the size and firmness of the mattress;
- body position during sleep;
- environmental sounds (your partner’s snoring is a common cause of awakenings);
- health status.
A good night’s sleep can be called a situation when you do not wake up during the night, and after sleeping 7-8 hours you are accompanied by positive emotions – you feel rested and calm, you have no sense of anxiety. After a good night’s sleep you have a lot of energy, are creative and productive at work. Research confirms the relationship between an adequate amount of sleep and better concentration, performance and cognitive abilities. People who sleep well are less likely to catch a cold. During sleep blood pressure normalizes, heart rhythm calms down. A good night’s sleep has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. It also protects against neurodegenerative diseases. Sleep is an important regulator of sex hormones.
What happens when you sleep?
It used to be thought that sleep was simply a time when the body and brain “shut down” for a few hours during the night. Meanwhile, during sleep the brain is involved in a number of processes that have a significant impact on your quality of life. Sleep consists of several stages. Each of them is important for the functioning of the body and should not be disturbed by anything.
During sleep, the brain cycles through two different types of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM. NREM sleep consists of 3-4 stages. The first and second stages are light sleep right after falling asleep, when your heart rate and breathing regulate and your body temperature drops. The third and fourth stages are deep sleep, which is designed to relax and regenerate the body. It also has an important effect on learning and memory. In the REM phase, the eyes move quickly behind closed eyelids, and brain waves behave similarly to when we are awake. During this phase, the brain is most active and vivid dreams occur. The whole cycle repeats several times throughout the night – the closer we get to waking up, the shorter the deep sleep phase lasts and the longer the REM phase gets.
There are two main processes that regulate sleep: the diurnal rhythm and the sleep drive. The diurnal rhythm is controlled by a biological clock located in the brain. One of the key functions of this clock is to respond to light signals: it speeds up production of the hormone melatonin when it gets dark, and then turns it off when it senses light. The sleep drive also plays an important role: your body craves sleep, just as it craves food. Throughout the day, the need for sleep increases and reaches a maximum level in the evening.
The process of sleep can be studied with the help of appropriate equipment. The most common method of sleep diagnostics is polysomnography in the hospital, which, however, is associated with many inconveniences for the patient, and therefore its results are sometimes unreliable. This is the reason why the Clebre sensor was created – a device that makes it possible to efficiently study sleep at home. This wireless sensor collects and analyzes breathing sounds, heart rate, movement activity and body position. Connected to a mobile app and the cloud, it allows you to analyze, save and send your results further. Clebre can detect apnea and shortness of breath during sleep, which is a common cause of sleep problems. Based on this, your doctor can implement effective, personalized treatment.
How to sleep to get enough sleep?
Sleep should be a non-negotiable priority for you. Respect your body’s need for sleep. If you feel like you’re not getting enough 7-8 hour sleep, find something you can give up during the day to get to bed earlier, such as watching TV in the evening.
If you want to sleep well, be physically active. Regular workouts at an intensity that matches your ability make it easier to fall asleep and help treat some sleep disorders, such as insomnia and restless legs syndrome. You’ll get additional benefits by practicing tai-chi or yoga, which have relaxing and calming properties. Spend more time outdoors.
Take care of your sleep hygiene. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Give up using screens before bedtime. Instead of a smartphone or computer, reach for a light read or turn on relaxing music. Air out your bedroom a few minutes before bedtime. Get rid of ticking watches and limit the number of electronic devices to eliminate any sleep “distractions.”
Avoid stress and reduce its effects. Sleep can be disrupted by thinking about problems at work and troubled family relationships. If you are not coping with stress, start meditating or go to therapy.
If you suffer from sleep apnea and are notoriously sleep deprived because of it, the above tips will be insufficient to guarantee you a good night’s sleep. You should consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.