Sound asleep

When it comes to health and wellbeing, getting enough sleep is as vital as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

Having sleep troubles is common, and not so surprising considering the fast pace and busyness of so many people’s lives. Ensuring you are getting enough sleep each night will help in all areas of your wellness, while also increasing productivity and focus, managing stress, boosting your immune system, preventing weight gain, improving memory, and many others.

The sleep cycle

Once we fall asleep, our bodies enter a sleep cycle that has four different stages. The first three stages are NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and the last stage is REM (rapid eye movement).

Stage 1: light sleep where your muscles relax, and your heart rate, breathing, and eye movements start to slow down. Typically, this stage lasts several minutes.

Stage 2: deeper sleep where your heart rate and breathing continue to slow, eye movements cease, and body temperature decreases. Typically, the longest sleep stage.

Stage 3: heartbeat, breathing, and brain wave activity reach their lowest levels, and muscles are as relaxed as they will get. The most important stage for you feeling refreshed and alert the next day.

REM: the first REM stage typically occurs 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Eyes move back and forth quickly under your eyelids, while breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure begin to increase. This stage is where most dreaming occurs.

Some tips to help improve your sleep:

  • Establish a realistic time to go to bed and stick to it, even during weekends
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature in your bedroom, and low light levels using lamps
  • Ensure you have a comfortable mattress, pillows, and sheets
  • Try to avoid screens from mobile phones, television, and other electronic devices in the bedroom and close to bedtime.
  • Don’t consume caffeine, alcohol, or large meals close to bedtime
  • Exercise earlier in the day rather than to evenings, to ensure you can wind down properly before bed

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