10 Ways to Sleep Better & Stay Healthy

Getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night is essential for your good health, according to sleep experts, and is part of a healthy routine.
Too little sleep not only makes you tired and cranky, but it also has other unwanted side effects, including decreased creativity and accuracy, increased stress, tremors, aches, and memory lapses or loss. It also puts you at risk for symptoms like those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as well as a rapid heart rate and increased risk of heart disease or stroke. It can even play havoc with your immune system.

According to Dr. Amit Narula, Medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Carroll Hospital, in Westminster, Maryland. “It’s easier to get an infection and it could be harder or take longer to get rid of an infection,” Narula said in a hospital news release. Waking up briefly during the night is normal, he said. But when you wake up for prolonged periods over eight hours, this is considered interrupted sleep. When your slumber is interrupted, you start all over going through the four necessary stages of sleep. And that can stop you from getting the deep sleep you need LifeBridge Health, a Maryland-based health care provider affiliated with Carroll Hospital, offers these 10 tips:

TO GET BETTER SLEEP PATTERNS


 Avoid alcohol, nicotine, food and drinks close to bedtime.
 Keep a sleep diary so you can talk to your doctor about your sleep habits
and patterns.
 Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
 Use your bed only for sex and sleep.
 Go to bed at the same time every night.
 Keep screens such as TVs, smartphones, and tablets out of the bedroom.
 Make sure your bed is comfortable.
 Keep pets out of the bedroom.
 Avoid tight or restrictive clothes.

 Keep a to-do list, so you won’t obsess about tomorrow.
If you have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, talk with your doctor.

THE FOUR STAGES OF SLEEP

There are two main types of sleep:
1) Non-rapid eye movement (NREM), also known as quiet sleep
2) Rapid eye movement (REM), also known as active sleep or paradoxical
sleep


NREM Stage 1
Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle and is a relatively light stage of sleep. It’s considered to be a transition period between wakefulness and sleep. During Stage 1, the brain produces high amplitude theta waves, which are very slow brain waves. This period of sleep lasts only a brief time (around five to 10 minutes). If you awaken someone during this stage, this person might report that they were not really sleeping.

NREM Stage 2
During stage 2 sleep:
 People become less aware of their surroundings
 Body temperature drops
 Breathing and heart rate become more regular
The second stage of sleep lasts only for a short amount of time, about 20 minutes. The brain will produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. Your body temperature drops and the heart rate begins to slow. According to the American Sleep Foundation, people spend approximately 50% of their total sleep in this stage.

NREM Stage 3
During stage 3 sleep:
 Muscles relax
 Blood pressure and breathing rate drop
 Deepest sleep occurs
While in this deep sleep stage, slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge during stage 3. It is also sometimes referred to as delta sleep. In this stage of sleep, people become less responsive and noises and activity in the environment may fail to generate a response. It also acts as a transitional period between light sleep and a very deep sleep. Some studies suggested that bed- wetting was most likely to occur during this deep stage of sleep, but some more recent evidence suggests that such bed-wetting can also occur at other stages. In addition, sleepwalking can tend to occur most often during this stage.

REM Sleep Stage 4

During REM sleep:
 The brain becomes more active
 Body becomes relaxed and immobilized
 Dreams occur
Our dreams occur mostly during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This stage of sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate, and a dramatic increase of brain activity. People spend approximately 20% of their total sleep in this stage. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because-‘ while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed.

Dreaming occurs due to increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become immobilized. The Sequence of Sleep Stages It is important to realize that sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. Our sleep patterns can vary. It begins in first stage and progresses into the second and third stages. After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages as much as four or five times throughout the night. We normally enter the REM sleep approximately 90 minutes after going to sleep.

Our brain is very active throughout these 4 stages of sleep and getting a good night’s rest will allow us to be at our best the following day. When we take care of ourselves by getting enough rest, we are better equipped to function at higher frequency and be more successful every day.

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