There is nothing more joyous than a well-rested and healthy body. Sleep is as essential as food and water for our wellbeing.
It helps in keeping our brains and hearts healthy, maintaining a strong immune system, regulating our appetite, elevating our mood, developing disease resistance, and whatnot.
Good sleep hygiene is needed to increase productivity during the day. People who had fluctuating sleeping habits were found comparatively obese and had higher blood pressure compared to normal sleepers.
Now that you know the surprising benefits of a regular bedtime schedule, you might want to get underneath your sheets.
Good bedding weighs a lot in aiding sleep and fighting insomnia. You can always experiment with sheets and pillows to make your body feel supported, and optimise your sleep environment.
Let's understand what happens to our brains and bodies during various stages of sleep.
First Stage of Sleep Cycle
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) sleep are the two basic types of sleep linked to our brain waves.
During shut-eye, you move from all the stages of non-REM to REM sleep, and reciprocally. An average sleep cycle takes 90-110 minutes to complete.
Let's see what changes happen during the first stage of the Non-REM cycle. This is the duration of light sleep.
When you transit from being awake to slumbering, non-REM sleep waves come into action. You might find yourself swinging in and out of sleep.
This lighter wave comes into action for a short duration before you enter deep sleep. It causes your muscles to relax, brings down your heartbeat and breathing rates.
Second Stage of Sleep
You spend most of your night being in this “not too deep, not too light” stage of sleep.
This stage onsets you for deep sleep by bringing your heart rate and breathing level back to normal, making your brain waves slower, and dropping down your body temperature.
That's why some of you find it nearly impossible to sleep without wrapping a comfy blanket around your legs, no matter the weather!
This stage of sleep gives your cardiovascular system its much-needed rest. All these activities help in disengaging you from your surroundings.
Third Stage of Sleep
This restorative stage of deep sleep, which is much needed for the growth and repair of body tissues is also called slow-wave sleep . The third stage of this sleep wave is much needed to enhance your daytime performance.
This stage takes your heart rate and breathing levels to the slowest, therefore, making it difficult for you to wake up.
If you’ve ever felt irritated and dazed for several minutes after waking up, then you might have come out of this stage of deep sleep.
REM sleep waves swing into action after you're 90 minutes into sleep. This makes your eyes move rapidly inside your closed eyelids. This sleep wave causes your breathing patterns to match your wakefulness levels.
The vivid dreams which help you process most of your emotions occur while you rest in REM. Your limb muscles tend to become temporarily paralyzed to prevent you from acting out of your dream.
A typical good night’s sleep has at least 4 or 5 REM/ non-REM cycles along with brief occurrences of wakefulness.
Some science-backed tips for a rejuvenating snooze
Keep your bedroom dark and temperature-controlled: Too cool or too hot a room can ruin your sleep schedule. For gearing up your sleep cycle, you can keep the room dark, quiet, and temperature controlled.
Power down your electronics an hour before: Lights coming out of your screen signals your brain to remain alert. Turning off your devices at least an hour earlier before going to bed can contribute a lot towards inducing an early snooze.
Music can lull you to sleep: Listening to your favourite tunes before going to bed helps in calming down your nervous system, thereby, making you sleep better.
Bed pillows and comfortable bedding: A pillow might help you in adopting a better sleeping position, and can even add some extra hours to your snooze. You can choose your favourite bedding in different fabrics, prints and sizes.
It’s not about getting 8 hours of sleep everyday. You need to focus on sleep quality and progress through sleep cycles to strengthen your physical and mental health.