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Some thoughts on sleeping October 1, 2006

Posted by theoxymoron in Interesting Reads.
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The last days I’ve read some interesting articles about sleep and sleeping habits.
There are 5 stages of sleep which one should know to understand the basics of sleep theory. When you are awake, your brain exhibits high brain waves, called beta brain waves. Stage 1 sleep is a very light sleep and is also called the “doorway” to your sleep. In this stage your brain exhibits alpha waves and some theta waves.
Stage 2 sleep is the link to the deep sleep, but in this stage most people woken up think that they were still awake.
Important are the stages 3 and 4. These are the deep sleep stages where the brain exhibits low frequency delta waves. In this phase your blood pressure, respiration and heart rate reach their lowest point in the day.
The last stage is the so called REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement because in this stage the eyes move very rapidly in all directions and a lot people who woke up at this stage told that they were dreaming at this point. Therefore this stage is also called dream sleep.
During the night you have multiple sleep cycles where you go through these stages.
Most people feel tired when they wake up in the morning although they slept 8 hours and more. And most of the people think that they need even more sleep to feel better. One thing you should try is to shorten your sleep time by about 30 or 40 minutes. You feel very tired and exhausted if your alarm clock wakes you up right in the deep sleep stage. So the best point to get up would be the end of the prior sleep cycle and that should be about 30 minutes earlier. Certainly you have to try this out for yourself because sleeping habits vary from person to person.
Another thing which can help is the amount of sunlight you are exposed to during the day. The more the better, because sunlight slows down the melatonin production. Melatonin is released in darkness and you will have feelings of drowsiness and loss of energy. This hormon is responsible for putting you to sleep so it is important during the day to slow down or block its production.
Other points which are important to improve your sleep quality:

  • Hydration of your body effects indirectly the quality of your sleep
  • Your daily activity level effects your sleep (activities in the morning are best and not in the evening which would be counterproductiv)
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