Why do you need Sleep?
If you have ever felt foggy after a poor night’s sleep, it won’t surprise you that sleep significantly impacts brain function. First, a healthy amount of sleep is vital for “brain plasticity,” or the brain’s ability to adapt to information. If we sleep too little, we become unable to process what we’ve learned during the day and we have more trouble remembering it in the future. Scientists also believe that sleep may promote the removal of waste products from brain cells—something that seems to occur less efficiently when the brain is awake.
Sleep is vital to the rest of the body too. When people don’t get enough sleep, their health risks rise. Symptoms of depression, seizures, high blood pressure, and migraines worsen. Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection. Sleep also plays a role in metabolism: Even one night of missed sleep can create a prediabetic state in an otherwise healthy person.
All Sleep Is Not the Same:
Throughout your time asleep, your brain will cycle repeatedly through two different types of sleep: REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep.
The first part of the cycle is non-REM sleep, which is composed of four stages. The first stage comes between being awake and falling asleep. The second is light sleep when heart rate and breathing are regulated and body temperature drops. The third and fourth stages are deep sleep. Though REM sleep was previously believed to be the most important sleep phase for learning and memory, newer data suggests that non-REM sleep is more important for these tasks, as well as being the more restful and restorative phase of sleep.
As you cycle into REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly behind closed lids, and brain waves are similar to those during wakefulness. Breath rate increases and the body becomes temporarily paralyzed as we dream.
The cycle then repeats itself, but with each cycle, you spend less time in the deeper stages three and four of sleep and more time in REM sleep. On a typical night, you’ll cycle through four or five times.
Rituals you can do for a Deeper and Restful Sleep every night:
Taking a warm shower 30-45 minutes before bedtime
Turn off all blue lights including your phone at least 1 hour before bedtime. It helps calm the nervous system and prepares the brain to switch off.
A body scan meditation can help you fully relax your body and mind to slow down your thinking mind and be ready to rest.
Reading an actual book in bed instead of using an iPad or Kindle is another way to transition your nervous system to prepare for sleep.
A gratitude journal that includes all the things you are grateful for that day helps you to get into a happier mindset and a sense of joy for transitioning from the day to sleep with a joyful mood.