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Category Archives: REM Sleep

Easy Ways to Improve Your Sleep

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We have said it once and we will say it again, sleep is important! But many people are still not getting enough good sleep every night and are, in fact, sleep deprived. Here are some simple ways to improve your nights sleep.

Length of Sleep

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It can be easy to convince yourself that the length of time you sleep is not that important. However, it is essential to your health, performance, and recovery. It is important to get a full night of sleep each night to perform your best during the day.

Importance of the Sleep Phases

There are different phases of sleep, two of which are very important in determining the quality of your sleep: slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) and REM sleep. The human body is pretty amazing, as it will manage the length of time you stay in each cycle. The time you spend in each cycle will adjust automatically based on what your body needs and the total length of time you are sleeping.

Earlier Bedtime

A way to ensure you are getting enough zzz’s and enough time in those sleep phases is to go to bed at a decent time. Give yourself extra time to relax and fall asleep by making your bedtime a little earlier, if needed. Consistency is great too if you go to bed at the same time every night it’s easier for your body to develop good sleep habits.

Avoid Distractions

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Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Make your bed about sleeping, not watching TV or playing on your phone, tablet, or computer. Creating a restful environment will help your body relax and make falling asleep a little easier.

Take these tips and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

The Science of the Brain During Sleep

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Our brains account for only 2% of our body’s mass, yet they use approximately a quarter of our entire energy supply. How does the brain receive and then expel the vital nutrients needed for all that energy? New research suggests that sleep has some amazing impacts on the brain. This Ted Talks video features Jeff Iliff, a neuroscientist, who explores the unique functions of the brain during sleep.

What Happens to Your Body When It’s Deprived of Sleep?

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We all know how it feels to have a restless night. You feel irritable, dizzy, and unfocused throughout the next day. But when you are chronically sleep deprived, it can be seriously detrimental to your health. It can affect your body in many ways and in several different places.

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Body Fat- People who get only a few hours of sleep per night tend to have more body fat than those who get a full night’s rest. The lack of sleep/energy is compensated for the following day by consuming extra calories.

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Stomach- Lack of sleep leads to a lower production of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and the storage of fat.

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Motor Skills- After being awake for an extended period of time, you will notice a loss of precision in your motor skills. There is a delayed reaction from your brain in signaling a physical response.

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Blood Pressure- Someone who sleeps very little on a regular basis will have much higher blood pressure than if they slept more. This is due to increased amounts of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress.

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Pancreas- People who are regularly deprived of sleep are twice as likely to develop diabetes, regardless of age or fitness level. The regulation of other hormone production is disrupted as well.

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Heart- Cardiovascular issues tend to develop in a large portion of people who have chronic sleep problems. The issues can range from weak or abnormal heartbeats to clogged arteries, or even cardiac arrest.

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Brain- In a period of just a few days, you can damage and kill brain cells by not getting enough sleep at night. Without precious sleep, your brain cannot rid itself of proteins that cause plaque build-up. Over time, this plaque can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about the physical effects of sleep deprivation, check out this article by Arianne Cohen, called 7 Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation, from the Psyche section of Details.

 

 

Take Sleep Seriously!

Meet Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist who studies sleep patterns in the brain. In the following video, he speaks about a range of topics relating to the importance of sleep.

He first describes three theories on the main function of sleep, as well as which theory he subscribes to. He then discusses what happens to a person (and the person’s brain) when sleep is lacking, as well as ideas about how to improve sleep quality and duration. Foster debunks some common myths and misconceptions about sleep, then speaks about the correlation between mental health and sleep disruption. He urges people to take sleep more seriously and realize the huge role that it plays in making us happy and healthy.

Watch to learn more:

Why Do We Dream?

Dreams are a very mysterious nightly phenomenon. We can only speculate on the purpose of dreams, but they are usually extraordinary in nature and a bit confusing to analyze. Why is it that most of the time we forget what we dreamt about as soon as we wake? Why are our accounts of dreams often unreliable or distorted?

The following video delves into theories about REM sleep and how important it is for forming and storing memories. It also discusses lucid dreams, sleepwalking, and a theory behind why we have so many negative feelings like anxiety and anger while dreaming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GGzc3x9WJU

Have you napped today?

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Napping can be a great way to gain more energy. There are many benefits of napping, but how long should you nap? Here is a fun video that discusses the science behind napping.

So grab a pillow and snuggle up to recharge your brain with a quick power nap!

 

Insomnia: Causes and Effects

Everyone has had a sleepless night here and there, whether it is because of an exciting event the next day or one too many cups of coffee. For one-third of Americans, insomnia is a nightly problem that affects their daily lives.

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There are a variety of causes that can be attributed to this problem. For some it can be caused by stress at home or work, a change in location, depression, anxiety, or certain medical conditions. For others it may be about sleep habits and environment. Some people eat poorly and too late in the day, others do not have a steady sleep schedule, and most have an unsupportive and uncomfortable mattress.

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There are many long-term effects that can result from insomnia. It can slow reaction times, result in poor performance at work, or cause weight gain or loss, irritability, anxiety, or depression, and it may put you at a higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

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A proper environment and schedule are key to getting great sleep, night after night. Setting up a sleeping and eating schedule can dramatically help with insomnia. Eat healthy foods earlier in the evening and make sure to give yourself a dedicated 8 hours of sleep per night. Also it is important to have a comfortable and supportive mattress. This will help to keep you from waking in the night from aches and pains. For more serious or continual insomnia cases, please seek help from a doctor.

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