The JLL Guide To A Good Night Sleep
A lot is made of how important staying active is for your health and well-being, but it is also essential that you balance this with the right amount of sleep.
There are many benefits to getting the right amount of rest, from reduced health risks to prolonged life spans. Here we will take a closer look at the benefits of good nights sleep, the consequences of under or oversleeping and some tips that you can take away with you.
What happens when you sleep?
The Oxford dictionary describes sleep as, ‘A condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended’. A typical person will usually experience 4 stages of sleep, these are labelled from 1-3 with the 4th stage being called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Individuals go through these stages on a cyclic basis from light sleep (stages 1 and 2) to deep sleep (stage 3) then REM sleep. The cycle then restarts and usually takes 90 to 110 minutes to pass through all stages. This means that the typical night’s sleep consists of a number of these cycles.
Taking a closer look at the characteristics and behavioural aspects that occur at each stage makes them seem more relatable, so let’s take a look at each individually.
Stage 1 – Light Sleep
• The first stage of sleep
• If you are woken up at this stage you may feel as though you were never asleep at all
• Although eyes may roll back muscles are still active
• Breathing slows down and heartbeat becomes regular
• Blood pressure and brain temperature reduced
• Usually lasts up to 10 minutes
Stage 2 – Light Sleep
• This is where the body prepares to go into a deep sleep
• Heart rate and body temperature slows further
• It becomes harder to wake up during this stage
• Blood pressure decreases and metabolism slows
• 45% of sleep is spent in this stage
Stage 3 – Deep Sleep
• This stage was originally split in 2 by scientists and is referred to as deep sleep
• It is at this point where you are least likely to be woken by movement and noise
• Brain waves are slower and become larger at this stage
• Waking up at this stage can cause disorientation
• This stage usually begins after 35 minutes of sleep
Stage 4 – REM
• Final stage of sleep before the cycle starts again
• Usually lasts for around 10 minutes and only begins 90 into a period of sleep
• Your eyes will move rapidly at this stage despite them being closed
• Although you are asleep brainwaves are similar to when you are awake
• This is where the most vivid and powerful dreams occur
• The REM period get longer after each cycle and can last up to an hour during the final cycle before you wake
Benefits of a good night sleep
Improve memory + Spur creativity
Whilst asleep your brain implements a process called consolidation. This is where the brain maintains, strengthens and modifies long term memories that are already stored using the information that has been gathered in the short term (throughout recent days).
Research shows that too much or too little sleep is linked with shorter life spans, although it is not 100% certain whether this is the cause of illness or the effec, . During the REM stage of sleep the body is able to restore organs, bones, tissues and cells making it essential for recovery.
Research shows that people who get 6 or fewer hours of sleep are more prone to having higher levels of inflammatory proteins within their blood streams.
Quite simply well-rested brain is a more alert one.
Have a healthy weight
Sleep and metabolism are actually controlled by the same sectors of the brain and you still lose calories while you are sleeping. In fact, sleeping for 8 or more hours per night without having a big meal just before can be compared to fasting, perfect for weight loss. For those trying to build muscle, research shows that 60% – 70% of daily growth hormone secretion happens during the deepest stages of the sleep cycle. Therefore, sleep is essential for muscle growth too.
Lower stress + Steer clear of depression
While lack of sleep is known to contribute to depression, adequate levels of sleep are proven to reduce stress levels. This give individuals more control over aspects such as high blood pressure.
Optimum level of sleep
The optimum level of sleep varies slightly depending on individual lifestyles and age. For example, school kids and younger teenagers generally require an hour or two more than adults. Adults should be aiming to get between 6 and 10 hours sleep a day with 7-9 hours being more ideal. If you are unsure of how much is best for you, try varying the length of sleep you have by 45 mins each week and stick with the time that feels best.
With all the benefits associated with sleep and how good it can feel, you couldn’t blame someone for thinking as much as possible is best, but this is not the case. Sleeping too much can also have negative effects on your well-being. So now lets focus on some of the consequences of oversleeping…
Impaired Brain Functioning and Mental Health
Sleeping to much has a negative effect on cognitive brain function and memory. Some researchers have found links between oversleeping and increased risk of developing dementia. Individuals that sleep for long durations are more likely to suffer from persistent depression also.
Regarding issues such as back pain, there are cases where a lack of movement can be more detrimental to recovery. Oversleeping can also cause tension headaches and migraines this is common on weekend were people often sleep in hence the term ‘Weekend Headaches’.
Impaired Glucose Tolerance
Individuals that often oversleep are more likely to develop a glucose tolerance. This affects the body’s ability to process sugars and can lead to Diabetes or heart issues.
Why is oversleeping bad?
A common consequence of oversleeping is sleep fragmentation which affects the quality of sleep that you get. Individuals that spend excessive time in bed are more likely to struggle staying asleep. Consequently, sleep acquired in shortened sessions and therefore reduces the amount of deep sleep and REM sleep obtained.
Oversleeping is usually down to us feeling fatigued in the morning although by oversleeping people generally feel more lethargic. This leaves some people thinking that they need to stay in bed even longer creating a vicious circle of tiredness.
Lack of challenge
By staying in bed for extended periods you could be restricting yourself of the physical and mental daily stimulation your body needs. A lack of exercise and mental challenges can be influential in causing depression.
Trouble getting a decent night sleep?
Can’t get to sleep?
If you are having trouble falling asleep in the first place try to avoid having caffeine past the afternoon. You can also try to work out in the morning or afternoon so that you exert most of your energy throughout the day and are more fatigued at night. Also, being a smart napper can help hear, if you feel tired through out the day, try not to nap for too long or too late in the day.
This problem probably doesn’t affect the snorer as much but can be a struggle to the people that have to hear it while they dose off. So, if snoring affects your household, try to get the snorer to lay on their side while they sleep with an extra pillow to elevate their head.
Can’t wake up on time?
Struggling to get out of bed is a problem we have all faced at some point. Remember we are creatures of habit. So if you want to avoid this, try waking up at the same time everyday.
Can’t stay Asleep?
Make sure that your bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold as this restrict your levels of comfort. Also try not to drink any alcohol before bed.
Try massaging the affected area and also a good stretch before you get in and after you get out of bed can help too.
Those that suffer from neck pain should change their pillows more often and firmer pillow are know to help this also.
Add a pillow under your legs if you sleep on your back as this will aid your sleeping posture.
Shoulder pain when you wake up is likely the cause of sleep on your side whilst putting strain on your shoulders. If you suffer from shoulder pain, try to sleep on your back or hug a pillow.
Final Do’s and Don’ts
- Exercise regularly.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark or has minimum lighting.
- Ventilate your bedroom before bed.
- Watch the TV less 30 mins before you plan to sleep.
- Spend ages on your phone before bed.
- Have any large meals just before bed.
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