While we are sleeping, the brain is engaged in restoring the body after the day’s exertions, renewing the interconnections with the organs of the internal systems. Sleep ensures the maintenance of the nervous system and immunity, reduces the risk of many diseases, normalizes metabolism and fills the body again with energy wasted during the day. Therefore, it’s justified to postpone important decisions until the morning, when a person is charged like a battery. Let’s find out what sleep depends on and what affects its quality.
Sleep consists of repetitive cycles, each of which can be divided into two phases: slow and fast. In turn, slow sleep includes three consecutive stages:
- Stage N1 (superficial or drowsiness) is only 5-10 min. The rate of breathing and pulse slow down, the muscles sometimes contract, but are mostly in a relaxed state. The pituitary gland begins active production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which promotes fast falling asleep. In fact, melatonin production begins 2 hours before the standard bedtime and reaches its peak by 2-4 a.m.
- Stage N2. Within 20-30 min, the metabolic rate and body temperature decrease (by 0.5-1 degrees), the eyeballs stop moving.
- Stage N3. A man is sleeping as deeply and deeply as possible, the organism during this time begins its regeneration, new cells of immune and nervous systems, bone and muscle tissue are formed and the growth hormone is produced, which is especially important for children. During 20-40 minutes, there is an active synthesis of cortisol, the stress hormone. Blood pressure rises and the body gradually prepares for awakening by activating energy.
The rapid sleep phase is called “rapid eye movement” or paradoxical sleep. The brain is active and ready to wake up, but sleep is still deep. An interesting fact is that if a person dreams in this stage that they are running away, they do so at a slower pace because their muscles are still relaxed.
Rules for Healthy Sleep
- Excessive sleep is as harmful as chronic lack of sleep.
- Fall asleep before 11 p.m.
- Sleep for 7-8 hours a day.
- Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
- At the end of the day, give up strong coffee and cigarettes, especially before going to bed.
- Get at least half an hour of physical activity a day, but not less than 3 hours before bedtime.
- Before going to bed, establish a certain relaxation ritual: a warm bath, reading an interesting book, listening to relaxing music, and doing some light self-massage are factors that influence a sound and healthy sleep.
- Equip the bedroom correctly: thick curtains should not let in light, the room should be quiet, ideally there should be no TV and no computer.
- Ensure a comfortable room temperature.
- Before going to bed, give up computer games, even if it’s blackjack or roulette, or violent movies. Basically, don’t do this in bed – otherwise there are associations in the bedroom that prevent you from falling asleep quickly.
- If you wake up broken and don’t feel rested in the morning, see a professional.
There are several varieties of sleep disorders:
- Insomnia. Absence of deep sleep, problems with falling asleep, frequent awakening, general depressed feeling in the morning.
- Excessive sleep. Its duration considerably exceeds the norm, the person can sleep the whole night for 10-12 hours or more.
- Hypersomnia. Despite deep and long sleep, the person constantly wants to sleep.
- Parasomnia. Obsessive states, feelings or movements that occur during falling asleep or during changes in the stages of sleep (somnambulism, bruxism, sexual arousal, phobias, involuntary movements of body parts).
- Difficulties related to the breathing process (snoring, apnea).
- Deviations in the circadian rhythm of sleep. Inability to fall asleep at the usual time.
- Movement disorders. The need to move some parts of the body during sleep and when falling asleep.
Insomnia is the most common compared to the other types, so the concept of “sleep disorder” is often associated with it. If symptoms persist for more than 3 months, the acute form changes to a short-term form, which after another 3 months turns into a chronic form. Another reason for the onset of chronicity is depression and constant anxiety.
Factors Affecting Sleep Quality
Sometimes sleep disorders appear as a result of illness, and after treatment, everything returns to normal. But there are a number of causes caused by the actions of the person himself. In this case, they should be eliminated as soon as possible for a full recovery of the organism and to reduce the risk of pathologies of the nervous and immune systems.
Active Pastime and Exertion Before Going to Bed
The body needs some time to get ready for sleep. It isn’t possible to do this instantly. And any activity stimulates it and doesn’t let it relax, so the process of falling asleep is delayed indefinitely.
Shifting the Waking Time
Signs of insomnia are noted by many tourists traveling to countries where there is a big difference in time zones. Similar symptoms occur in those who have to regularly go to work on the night shift. The settings of the biological clock become disrupted.
Quarrels, Conflicts, and Nervous Turmoil
Any stress is a nervous system stimulant. The strong experiences associated with it not only prevent you from falling asleep peacefully but also undermine your general well-being.
Another factor that affects sleep is the consumption of foods that contain caffeine, which interferes with the synthesis of the sleep hormone, for example, chocolate, strong coffee and tea, which have a tonic effect. Eating any food less than 2 hours before bedtime negatively affects its quality, especially if it’s a spicy or fatty dish. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not an analogue of sleeping pills. On the contrary, it forces the body to engage in ethanol assimilation instead of restorative functions.
Sleep problems occur as a side effect when taking nootropics and neuroleptics that excite the CNS, as well as some allergy medications.
Unprepared Room for Rest
When the curtains on the windows are not thick enough, natural light or the glow of streetlights breaks through them, preventing a quick fall asleep. Negative reasons are also stuffiness and uncomfortable temperature in the bedroom. According to studies, the best way for a person to sleep is at 16-18 degrees Celsius in a well-ventilated room. Poor-quality bedding can also seriously compromise the tactile sensations.
Using Modern Gadgets
The melatonin that promotes falling asleep begins to be produced 2 hours before sleep. Computer games and action or horror movies disrupt this process.
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