Have you stayed up late to catch up on project? Have you cut into quality sleep having late night phone meetings with colleagues and partners? Or are you the one glaring at the computer scouring your e-mail until you can’t keep your eyes open? You may often hear the saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead”, ensuring you that it’s okay to cut into your rest time in order to do something else. However, not getting enough quality sleep can harm your body to the extent of an early death.
Sleep deprivation can be that single component keeping you from living an all around healthy lifestyle. According to WebMD “research shows that chronic lack of sleep is linked to disease and illness, decreased mental health and focus and obesity and lowered energy levels.” What effects your physical health can also affect how you work, communicate with others, think, react, and even learn. Quality sleep is just as important as clean eating and exercise to a high performance lifestyle.
To ensure quality sleep your body must cycle through four stages of sleep. To ensure your quality of sleep you must advance to the fourth stage with little to no interruption. As you can see the longer you sleep without interruption the more likely you are to end up in the stage four, which is the most important. The first stage of sleep is your Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM), which represents the first 3 stages:
Stage 1: is the transition of being asleep and being awake, if woken during this stage you may feel as if you never fell asleep, lasts up to 10 minutes.
Stage 2: your brain activity increases and your body temperature begins to drop while your heart rate slows down, lasts up to 20 minutes.
Stage 3: this stage is the transitional period between light sleep and deep sleep, lasts up to 30 minutes.
Once your body has transitioned through these 3 stages you enter the fourth stage, which is called Rapid Eye Movement or REM (Stage 4). In this stage you reach your deepest level of sleep lasting 30 minutes or so and where you achieve all of your benefits from sleeping. As you enter REM your body experiences 5 key benefits:
- Regenerates/repairs tissues
- Builds bone and muscle
- Strengthens immune system
- Enhances memory performance
- Becomes resilient to daily stress
You’ll experience all of these benefits along with developing a more positive attitude, increased energy and even weight loss when sleep goes uninterrupted. The REM stage is correlated to living a longer healthier life. The better quality of your sleep the better and the more you’re rewarded with benefits. Here are several ways you can help to improve your quality of sleep:
- Don’t watch TV within 30 minutes of going to bed
- Eat your last meal a couple of hours before bed
- Avoid bright lights before bed (tv, computer, ipad, etc.)
- Workout regularly, but not within 2 hrs. of going to bed
- Avoid chemicals such as caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, ect. that interfere with sleep to close to bed time
- Keep loud noises to a minimum
- Develop a bedtime routine
These are some of the things you can control along with others to ensure a good night’s rest. Prior to creating my own bedtime routine I used to toss and turn throughout the night often waking up feeling slow and foggy. Here is the routine I follow:
- Foam roll
- Brush my teeth
- Grab a glass of water
- Prepare tomorrows schedule
- Reflect over the present day events
- Lay in bed and read until I start to dose off
- Turn off the light
This routine helps me to get quality sleep each night giving my body the tools to heal, guard, build and re-energize itself! I challenge you if you don’t already have one to create a bedtime routine. Try it out for 30 days and track each night how you slept to see if you can tell a difference between having a routine and not having one. Please comment below with your results or if you already have a routine feel free to share it or explain how it’s helped you sleep better.