We all know that sleep is important to our overall health and wellbeing, but understanding WHY that is provides us with the boost we need to prioritize getting enough good Zzzzz’s each night. In our Essential Sleep Webinar, we start by explaining the different stages of the sleep cycle. Within those stages are two important phases called rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM). Here are the basics:
About 25% of all sleep time is spent in REM sleep, where dreaming occurs. Even though your body doesn’t move during this phase, your eyes dart back-and-forth and your brain is awake. This phase is critical as it’s associated with improved cognitive function.
The remaining 75% of sleep time is in the stages of NREM. “Early in the night, when NREM is more predominant, the body focuses on physical repair. In the first few hours of drifting off, secretion of growth hormone is released, which aides in the maintenance and repair of tissues and organs,” said the Life Time Editorial Team in a recent article produced in partnership with Beautyrest.
We need these phases/stages each night to feel rested and ready to tackle another new day. Some key factors that can cause disruption are consuming too much caffeine, alcohol, or blue light (emitted by the sun, electronics, and screens) before bed, as well as chronic stress, nicotine, and blood sugar levels.
Aside from the items mentioned above, there are key things you can do at night to develop habitual routines, cueing your body that it’s time for rest. Credit to Eric Suni, author of the article “Sleep Hygiene” from the Sleep Foundation.
· Budget 30 Minutes for Winding Down: Take advantage of whatever puts you in a state of calm such as soft music, light stretching, yoga, reading, and/or relaxation exercises.
· Unplug from Electronics: Build in a 30-60 minute pre-bed buffer time that’s device-free. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops cause mental stimulation that is hard to shut off and generate blue light that may decrease melatonin production.
· Have a Comfortable Mattress and Pillow: Your sleeping surface is critical to comfort and pain-free sleep, so choose your mattress and pillow wisely.
· Set a Cool, Comfortable Temperature: Fine-tune your bedroom temperature to suit your preferences but err on the cooler side (around 65 degrees).
· Test Methods of Relaxation: Instead of making falling asleep your goal, it’s often easier to focus on relaxation. Meditation, mindfulness, paced breathing, and other relaxation techniques can put you in the right mindset for bed.
For more information, attend our Essential Sleep Webinar