Why Do We Sleep?
While it is difficult to answer this question, scientists have analysed it and have developed a couple of theories that may explain why living things spend a third of their lives in bed. In order to heighten our appreciation of the function of sleep, we must understand these theories.
There are 3 types of sleep:
- REM Sleep
- Deep Sleep
- Light Sleep
As long as you are able to get a healthy night’s sleep, there is no wasted sleep.
Middle-aged adults prefer deep sleeping, however, they may notice a decrease in deep sleep and an increase in light sleep.
As we age, we don’t get as much deep sleep as we want – we get more light sleep.
Children have a tendency to drift into a nice deep sleep, without any problems, hence the ever so popular saying “sleeping like a baby.”
Kids are going through a growth and renewing their body. There are times where adults may experience an increase in growth hormone during a deep sleep period.
So, WHY do we sleep?
Well, scientists have yet to determine this. However, what we do know is that humans need sleep and people can actually live longer without eating than without sleep.
- Adults normally get 7.5 hours of sleep each night, with a standard deviation of around 1.25 hours. Around two-thirds of the population gets anywhere from 6.25 to 8.75 hours of sleep every night.
What Are Sleep Cycles?
On an average night, a sleep cycle will last around 90 minutes. During this time, we move through five different stages of sleep.
- Stage 1– Light sleep. Occasional twitching of the muscles.
- Stage 2- Heart rate and breathing pattern start slowing.
- Stage 3- Deep sleep takes place.
- Stage 4- Very deep sleep. The brain produces delta waves. Limited movement.
- Stage 5- Rapid eye movement. Dreaming occurs. Heart rate increases. Muscles relax.
How Can We Improve Our Sleep?
At 3 in the morning, if you’re still awake, falling asleep may seem like a fairy tale, but you are more in control of your sleep than you think.
In this section of the article, we are going to tell you how you can improve your sleep.
1. Avoid Nicotine and Caffeine
Avoid anything with caffeine, chocolate, cola, tea, and certain pain relievers).
Also, if you’re a smoker, try to stay away from tobacco products before bed.
2. Wait Until You’re Tired
So many people try to go to sleep before they are tired and this only leads to frustration, which in return leads to no sleep.
When you go to bed, if you have not fallen asleep after 20 minutes, get out of the bed and do something like reading a book until you feel tired.
3. Don’t Stare at the Clock
Are you the type of person who lays there staring at the clock? Don’t do that. Doing this can increase your stress level, making it hard for you to fall asleep.
If you can’t help yourself, then turn your clock where you cannot see it.
4. Create a Bedtime Routine
Keep your room cool – Most people have a tendency to get a good sleep when the room is around 65 degrees F.
Sleeping in a bedroom that is too hot can interfere with the quality of sleep.
Keep the noise level down – If you have barking dogs, city traffic, loud neighbors or other people in your home, try wearing ear plugs in order to cover the noise.
You can try following relaxing routines
- Take a warm bubble bath
- Read a book
- Listen to relaxing music
- Make preparations for the following day
- Gently stretch
How Effective Exercising is for Sleep
“Exercise is the best medicine for getting a good night’s sleep” is a common phrase.
If you want to sleep better, then exercise during the day! Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do in order to get past insomnia.
There are a couple of reasons as to why exercise helps you sleep better. When you exercise, you are increasing the temperature of your body, then a couple hours later, the temperature decreases. This decrease in your body temperature makes it easier for you to fall asleep.
Those individuals who exercise outside may sleep better because they are exposing themselves to bright light. Exposure to sunlight helps you properly regulate the body temperature rhythm.
If you are exercising in order to combat insomnia, it would be a good idea to exercise in the early evening.
If you do not have time to exercise in the evening and you have to exercise earlier, it may not be as effective at helping you sleep as it would be if you were to exercise later in the day.
On another note, exercising too late in the evening isn’t a good idea either, because your body will not have enough time to calm down, making it hard for you to sleep.
Rule of the thumb: Try exercising at least 4 hours before bedtime in order to get the maximum sleep benefits from exercising.
What Causes Sleep Disorders?
There are numerous factors that can cause sleep disorders, such as:
Acute insomnia can be caused by losing a job, a death of a loved one, moving or a big change in your life.
Chronic insomnia can be caused by depression, pain or chronic stress.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when an obstruction in the upper airway is formed during sleep. Despite the effort to breathe, there are repetitive pauses in breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common. Breathing usually goes back to normal with a snort, loud gasp or a body jerk.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea happens when the airway has been blocked, usually when the soft tissue that is in the back of the throat collapses.
Your chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea will increase if:
- You have a narrowed airway
- You have a thicker neck
- You are overweight
- You're over the age of 60
- You smoke
- You have nasal congestion
- You're a male
Your chances of developing central sleep apnea will increase if:
- You’re over the age of 65
- You’ve had a brain tumor
- You’ve had a stroke
- You're a male
- You have a heart disorder
Individuals who have
They may also wake up throughout the night in order to urinate and could have a decreased interest in sex.
Sleeping Pills and Their Major Side Effects
A sleeping pill can help end sleeping problems, but these should only be taken on a short-term basis. Before you take them, however, it is important that you understand that they may have side effects hooked to them.
Side effects of sleeping pills can include:
If sleeping pills truly were the answer to getting a good night’s sleep, many of us wouldn’t be
According to IMS Health, back in 2012, doctors wrote a total of 60 million prescriptions for Lunesta, Ambien, and other prescription sleep aids.
Those statistics makes sleeping pills one of the most popular medications in the world.
Are There Natural Sleep Remedies?
Before you go out and get a sleeping pill, you may want to try some of the natural sleep remedies.
Natural sleep remedies are safer and don’t have all of those side effects attached to them.
Have you ever heard of this? Melatonin is a hormone that naturally controls sleep.
You can purchase it over the counter in the “natural” section of most big department stores. Studies have indicated that a low dose of melatonin is more effective.
Plus, taking a dose that is too high could increase your risk of infertility.
Lavender can help you get a good night’s sleep. Find a spray that consists of real lavender and spray it on your pillow before you go to sleep.
Wild lettuce is known for helping with headaches, anxiety and muscle/joint pain. It is also effective at helping reduce anxiety so you can fall asleep.
Before bed, take between 30-120 milligrams of a wild lettuce supplement.
While you’re in your bed, try gentle yoga, followed by light medication.
Close your eyes for 10 minutes and pay attention to your breathing and nothing else around you.
Are There Any Supplements to Cure Sleeping Disorders?
Two of the most common supplements are:
Valerian – A herb that has a mild sedative effect.
Melatonin – A hormone that your body naturally produces
Melatonin supplements can be effective for short-term use.
Sleeping Supplements and Their Effects
Honestly, sleeping aids aren’t the magic cure, but they can be effective for short-term.
Most of the sleeping supplements you purchase over the counter have antihistamines in them. A tolerance to antihistamines can quickly develop, so if you take them for a long period of time, they will quit working.
In addition, an over-the-counter sleeping supplement can make you feel groggy the next day. This is what is called the “hangover effect.”
Common choices and the potential side effects:
Doxylamine Succinate – This is a sedating antihistamine. Side effects can include blurred vision, daytime drowsiness, urinary retention and constipation.
Melatonin – Researchers have suggested that melatonin could help reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
The side effects are mild and can include daytime sleepiness and headaches.
Valerian – Often times, Valerian is used as a supplement for sleep. Valerian doesn’t appear to cause any form of side effects that we know of.
Sleep and Your Life: How They Are Related
Sleep and life are related in more ways than one.
Your Attitude – Without the proper amount of sleep, your attitude will go down the hill.
You will feel more aggravated than normal and your tolerance for people may not be good. You may snap at people you love, hurting their feelings.
The Way You Function – The daily routine you have, without the proper amount of sleep, may seem almost impossible. When you’re at work, you could make mistakes that cost you your job.
How are sleep and your life related?
They go hand in hand. You see, research has indicated that a person can go longer without food than they could without sleep (we told you this statement earlier).
Without sleep, you have no life. This is why we stress the importance of sleep – every living being must get a proper amount of sleep on a regular basis in order to have a good attitude, function properly and live a long, healthy life.
However, different people have different types of sleeping schedule. What schedule do you follow and what is your feedback? Please share your views here.