Many people exercise and eat better in an effort to live a healthier lifestyle. However, a lot of these people go to bed every night without thinking about how sleep affects their health. The quality of our sleep is paramount over quantity. Quality of sleep directly affects our quality of life including energy, stress levels and overall health. Recent medical studies have shown lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even possibly Alzheimer’s, also early mortality. The Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School does continual studies and research to understand these issues.
It is Stages Three & Four: This stage is the beginning of deep sleep, as the brain begins producing slower delta waves. You won’t experience any eye movement or muscle activity. At this point, it becomes a little harder for you to be awakened, because your body becomes less responsive to outside stimuli. The brain produces even more delta waves and you move into an even deeper, more restorative stage of sleep next. It’s most difficult to wake up during this stage. This is when the body repairs muscles and tissues, stimulates growth and development, boosts immune function, and builds up energy for the next day.
It is important to spend as much time as possible in stages three, four and the final REM stage. Disturbances during the night, even changing sleeping positions put you back in stage one or two. It takes time to get back into restorative stages. It is important to create the perfect environment for a quality night’s sleep.
Creating the Perfect Environment
Take a look at your sleeping surface, your mattress. It should be supportive yet comfortable. If it is older than 8 years, it should be replaced. Not all mattresses wear out in 8 years but our bodies and support requirements change. You spend a third of the day on that mattress, consider that when setting your budget to buy a new one. Use a good quality mattress protector. Your mattress is a breeding ground for dust mites and a good quality mattress protector will prevent that and the allergens that follow.
Quality comfortable sheets, blankets and pillow. Your pillow selection is as important as your mattress. The pillow provides 30% of overall spinal alignment. Most mattress stores carry a selection of pillows. Consider buying your pillow and mattress as a matched set. Find a pillow you like and use it to test mattresses. Change your pillow selection, if needed, as you narrow down your mattress choice.
Take a look at your bedroom. It should be comfortable, quiet, dark and cool. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping and sex only. Your brain will associate the bedroom for sleeping and sex, making it easier to fall asleep. Remove the TV, and no computers, tablets or cell phones should be allowed.
Forget the nightcap. Alcohol may act as a sedative and help you fall asleep faster but disturbs quality sleep later during the night. Alcohol may also cause restless leg syndrome and sleep walking.
Try to forgo watching TV or using computers, tablets or cell phones for 1 to 2 hours before bed. The bright light stops melatonin production, melatonin helps us sleep. If not, turn the screens brightness down as much as possible.
Try going to bed and waking at the same time every day. This also trains the brain for sleep. Don’t sleep in on the weekends. Sleep is not a bank that can withdrawn from and added back to.
Enjoy the Benefits
Going to bed and getting up in the morning will become the most enjoyable parts of your day. Relish the comfortable environment, you have created and the way you feel in the morning. With quality sleep appreciate renewed energy levels as your stress level decreases. You will find a better overall quality of life. With a clearer mind it will be easier to understand and retain information throughout your day.
Written by David Lantz, Owner of The Mattress Place, 28248 N. Tatum Blvd. Cave Creek Az. 85331. David has over 30 years’ experience in the bedding industry, countless hours of training and studies surrounding sleep and mattress construction. His extensive knowledge helps assist customers find a mattress that is supportive yet comfortable for a better night’s sleep.