Research shows that healthy sleep is a vital component of a healthy life. Lack of sleep, like hunger, can reduce sexual desire, weaken the immune system, and slow mental activity.
Sleep is a natural process of the body. While we sleep and enjoy colorful dreams, our brain is resting and thus rebooting the body.
Sleep is just one part of feeling good. Many factors affect the quality of your sleep, including the food you eat, how much you move, and how you deal with stress.
How healthy sleep affects our well-being?
First of all, sleep is rest for the body. He helps:
- ensure a good mood
- reduce stress
- increase concentration and performance of the body
What happens to the body during different phases of sleep?
The structure of human sleep includes two phases: slow-wave and REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep occurs immediately after you fall asleep. Consists of four stages. The total duration of the non-REM sleep phase is about 90 minutes. The breathing is calm and even, and the pressure decreases; the eyes first make slow movements and then are motionless; the brain is inactive, and the body is relaxed. You rest and restore physical strength.
REM sleep follows non-REM sleep and lasts 10 to 20 minutes. The temperature and pressure rise and the heart beats faster. The body is immobilized, except for the muscles responsible for the heartbeat and breathing. Under closed eyelids, only the eyeballs make quick movements. The brain is actively working, and you see dreams.
These two phases alternate with each other.
First, you fall into slow sleep and go through all its stages – it takes about 90 minutes. Then comes the phase of REM sleep. The first time it is short, at most 5 minutes. This cycle is called the sleep cycle. The cycles are repeated. A healthy person usually goes through five cycles of sleep at once.
What is sleep hygiene, and why is it important?
Sleep hygiene is the name of the habits that we usually do before going to bed.
There are a lot of them:
- Someone reads a few pages of a book before going to bed.
- Someone meditates.
- Someone drinks milk with honey.
- Someone takes a warm bath with essential oils.
9 sleep hygiene rituals
We have put together a list of good bedtime habits that will help you sleep better and healthier:
- Keep a sleep schedule. Our brain loves when it knows the exact time to rest.
- Ventilate the room before bed
- Sleep in complete darkness – use a sleep mask or hang thick curtains
- Change bed linen at least once a week
- The temperature in the bedroom can fluctuate between 18-24 degrees
- Use night mode or minimum brightness on your device. Bright light from screens sends impulses to our brain that makes it think it’s daytime.
- Avoid daytime sleep. Sleep during the day can interfere with sound sleep at night.
- Don’t eat at night. It is better that your last meal is 3-4 hours before bedtime, and also do not overdo it with water so as not to wake up at night.
- Exercise for at least 20 minutes a day. Even a few yoga exercises or stretching will increase the body’s tone.
What foods improve sleep quality?
You heard that eating at night is harmful, but it’s wrong to go to bed when your stomach growls from hunger. As we have said, the last meal should be 3-4 hours before bedtime. We have compiled for you a list of products that help improve sleep:
- Cherry juice or fresh cherries. This berry has a lot of melatonin, so regular consumption of cherries significantly increases the duration of sleep;
- Bananas. Rich in magnesium, it contains tryptophan;
- Yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. Dairy products are high in calcium and protein;
- Turkey, beans, eggs. These are low-calorie foods that help lower the pH of the stomach and cause drowsiness due to tryptophan;
- Greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds. Rich in magnesium, it relaxes muscles and makes it easier to fall asleep;
- Warm milk with honey.
It is better to drink herbal teas with chamomile, mint, or lemon balm at night. They will help you calm down and relax.
How bad is lack of sleep?
Many people think that lack of sleep is nothing to worry about. But this is only a delusion. Lack of sleep entails fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, increased stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline), and blood sugar levels.
Lack of sleep does not go unnoticed:
- Simple attention is impaired, a vital skill that helps us stay safe. Imagine how your reaction time to traffic lights and traffic hazards will decrease if you don’t get enough sleep.
- Memory and general well-being worsen. Lack of sleep can at least prevent you from thinking; thoughts get confused, it is harder to memorize and process new information, and there is also a headache, nausea, and weakness.
- The hormones that tell you when you’re full are getting worse, which makes you overeat.
- The condition of the skin worsens. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to premature wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes. There is also a link between lack of sleep and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And cortisol, in turn, destroys collagen, a protein that maintains skin elasticity.
Productive sleep: how much is it?
Most studies have proven that a healthy adult needs about 8 hours of sleep.
As we have already said, we go through five sleep cycles lasting approximately 1.5 hours under normal conditions. Multiply that hour and a half by the number of sleep phases, and you get about 8 hours.
But all people are different, so you can only understand how much sleep you need, specifically through experiments. At the age of 40, 6 hours will be enough for someone, and 8 hours will not be enough for someone.
What vitamins and supplements improve sleep quality?
Omega-3 fatty acids help improve sleep. Low DHA levels are also associated with lower levels of the hormone melatonin, which helps you sleep. And as we know, Omega-3 has the highest amount of DHA acids in nature – 25%. In addition, Omega-3 stimulates the brain, positively affects the nervous system, and increases the hormone of happiness – serotonin.
Vitamin D – There is a lot of research on this animal pack vitamins and its effect on sleep. Several studies have linked low blood vitamin D levels to an increased risk of sleep disturbances and reduced sleep duration.