Many people face the problem of insomnia — the inability to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning at the right time. At the same time, the person feels overwhelmed and tired, as if he had not slept at all. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, weakens the nervous system and can provoke cardiovascular and neurological diseases. But in order to delve into the topic of sleep, you first need to understand its phases. Yegor Safrygin, director of the marketing department “Medicine” of the AlfaStrakhovanie Group, will tell about this.
Sleep can be divided into fast and slow. REM sleep is called the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase. This phase is characterized by increased activity of the brain, an accelerated rhythm of the heart and breathing, an increase in blood pressure, while the person’s eyes move quickly, and twitching of the limbs is also possible. It is in this phase that we see the most vivid and memorable dreams. The phase of REM sleep lasts 10–20 minutes, then it is replaced by phases of slow sleep, during the night such cycles are repeated 4–5 times. There are four phases of non-REM sleep.
The first phase is a light nap. This is the initial stage of sleep, which can be found when falling asleep in transport or in front of the TV screen. At this time, the brain continues to work quite actively.
The second phase is falling asleep. During this phase, small bursts of brain activity are recorded. Activity, heart rate and breathing slow down. It is easy to wake a person at this time.
The third phase is transitional. Sleep is deep and is characterized by a delta rhythm up to 50% of the time.
The fourth phase is deep sleep. The most important phase of sleep, during which the body recuperates, the heart rate becomes slower, brain activity and body temperature decrease. The phase lasts 20–30 minutes, dreams are possible. Sleepwalking attacks occur in this phase.
The deep sleep phase in the first cycle is the largest, and with each new cycle, the REM sleep phase increases. The more deep sleep, the higher the likelihood that a person will get enough sleep and wake up refreshed.
After a hard day at work, some people can roll over from side to side for hours, dreaming of falling asleep quickly. Sleep can be disturbed not only due to stress, but also due to various diseases, active physical activity in the afternoon, partner snoring, extraneous noise from the street. If the state of anxiety does not leave, you can drink “sleepy decoction” before going to bed — this is a pharmacy collection of soothing herbs. They will help facilitate the process of falling asleep without causing addiction and disturbing the rhythm of sleep. It is also believed that a glass of warm milk with honey will help to go to Morpheus faster. If “simple” remedies do not help, you need to contact a specialized medical specialist — a somnologist. You should definitely not postpone the visit if you understand that the sleep disorder has become chronic.
Stressful situations, neurosis, depression and other unpleasant phenomena can cause various sleep disorders. Such disorders include difficulty falling asleep, when you want to sleep only until the moment when a person is in bed, and then the dream “takes off like a dream”, frequent night awakenings, after which it is impossible to fall asleep for several hours, obsessive recurring dreams. Also, sleep disorders include difficulties with awakening (postsomnic disorders) — decreased performance in the morning, daytime sleepiness, a feeling of “brokenness”. A separate line in sleep disorders is the syndrome of “sleep apnea”. This is a situation with periodic slowing of breathing during sleep until it stops completely (apnea).
Even if the sleep disorder cannot be called chronic, each of us, for sure, at least once faced with a situation where even after a 10-hour stay in bed, the cherished feeling of cheerfulness does not come. The thing is that the point is not in the number of hours of sleep, but in its quality. What do you need to do to get enough sleep in six hours?
Healthy sleep rules
Follow a sleep schedule. This means that if you wake up every weekday at seven in the morning, then it is advisable to do the same on weekends. Sleep can be extended by up to an hour. You also need to go to bed at the same time. It is important to consider that it is better to wake up in REM sleep. To determine it, you can try to rearrange the alarm for 10–30 minutes during the week or refer to special tables.
Maintain physical activity throughout the day. For example, do exercises. At the same time, the exercises should be complete — it is necessary to increase the body temperature in order to improve brain activity and performance. Do not neglect the contrast shower after charging. Physical exercise is a good stress reliever and helps the body relieve tension and relax, so you can take a walk during your lunch break, and visit the pool or gym after work. However, it must be remembered that heavy physical activity just before bedtime can cause insomnia — increased physical activity should end at 10 pm. To reduce body temperature, you need to take a shower.
Drink more water. We are talking about high-quality clean water, and not just about liquids (tea, soda or coffee). There are different opinions about how much water should be consumed per day, but one thing is clear: it should not be allowed to become scarce. If the body did not have enough water during wakefulness, it will also experience stress during sleep.
Minimize the use of nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and energy drinks. The ideal condition would be a complete rejection of such drinks and cigarettes. If a person drinks coffee every day to cheer up, then over time his body loses the ability to independently rebuild, relax and activate at the right time. It is also undesirable to eat heavy meals just before bedtime, because in this case the body will spend energy on digestion.
Organize good lighting in the workplace. Daylight would be ideal. If this is not possible, then the workplace should simply be as illuminated as possible. Light destroys the hormone melatonin, so you want to sleep less.
Rest after lunch. If you really want to take a nap after dinner, then you should not ignore this desire. 15–20 minutes is enough to rest and recover in REM sleep.
Ventilate the bedroom before going to bed. This simple action will help create optimal conditions for relaxation. Body temperature at night should be lower than during the day. It is also advisable to avoid watching the news or movies late in the evening, because this can increase brain activity and thus delay the process of complete relaxation. Put your gadgets aside, unless it’s a “smart alarm clock” that tracks your sleep phases.
These rules will really work if you follow them all together, and not selectively and from time to time. Of course, everyone should find the best option and adapt the rules as much as possible for themselves. Most likely, it will not be easy to start following them right away, but over time it will become a habit, and then six hours of sleep will no longer seem like the lot of the Spartans.