Sleep 101

If you’re going to bike or do any kind of exercise sleep is something you’ll want to get enough of. Without sleep, you won’t have the energy or concentration needed for your day or ride. There are things your body needs to do that it can only do while you sleep. Many people have trouble sleeping or take sleep for granted but it’s one of the most important things you can do for your body and future health.

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This is a screenshot from my Jawbone UP3 showing a typical night of sleep for me. Let’s see what we can learn from it. As you can see there are 3 kinds of sleep cycles during the night.

Sleep cycles are important.

Not everyone gets the same amount of REM, deep or light sleep a night. It depends on age, the individual and quality of sleep but everyone has these cycles of sleep during the night.

When we are in REM our bodies are paralyzed and we dream. This is why our bodies don’t try to run when we dream about running. REM is not only for dreaming it’s when the mind does it’s sorting of what’s happened during the day. Whether you remember your dreams or not everyone has deep sleep. Our mind needs REM, it makes up sharp and helps us to learn complex things.

For more information on REM sleep: http://www.howsleepworks.com/types_rem.html

Deep sleep helps our bodies repair themselves. During deep sleep, our bodies chemically do all the good things we’ll need for the daylight hours. There are functions our bodies can only do at night while in deep sleep. Cells repair themselves and hormones are released. Deep sleep restores us physically and mentally. Deep sleep heals the daytime wear and tear on our bodies.

For more information on deep sleep: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleepless-in-america/201010/the-mysterious-benefits-deep-sleep

Light sleep makes sleep cycles possible. During light sleep our bodies transition between deep and REM sleep. The body rests during light sleep and we can wake up easily.

For more information on light sleep: http://www.sleepdex.org/light.htm

For all of this to happen, we need to get enough sleep each night. We need a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Finding the time for this in our busy lives isn’t easy but if you want the benefits that sleep offers you’ll have to make the time. It takes good sleep planning.

Bedtime is not just for children. 

Give up the late TV shows, get off of the computer and if you go out, plan to get home early. Pick a bedtime you can do every night and stick to it. Set an alarm so you can get ready for bed and be in bed when it’s time to go to sleep. Now that we have On Demand TV it’s not important to stay up for TV shows or movies. Life has its ways of getting in the way be firm about your bedtime.

Before bedtime read or meditate in the dark. 

Some people have problems quieting their minds before sleep. To make sure you’re relaxed enough to sleep after getting ready for bed meditate or read a book for a 1/2 hour or more before your bedtime. Turning the lights out in your bedroom ahead of time and lying in the dark can help bring on a good night’s sleep. Drinking alcohol can help you get to sleep but will play havoc with your sleep cycles giving you a bad night’s sleep.

Here is a good article with tips for better sleep. It states that you shouldn’t read before bed but new studies have found that it can actually help. I read before bed and it puts me right to sleep. It still gives a lot of good information: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20011004/12-tips-better-sleep-troubled-times

Set up your bedroom for sleep.

The bedroom should be as cool and dark as possible. Keep your blinds or curtains shut. I have a window open even in the winter, a stuffy hot room will not help you sleep well. It’s good to keep your bedroom around 50 degrees. I love being warm under a big blanket in a cold room, makes me sleep like a baby.

I make sure all electronic devices with LED’s are off or I put tape over the LED’s so I can’t see them. Blue LED’s or TV/stereo box lights can keep you awake by stimulating your mind just by looking at them in the dark. The darker the room the better.

Make sure your bed is comfortable. Dress in something loose and cool you want to be as comfortable as possible.

If you still need help getting to sleep.

Scent can help you sleep. Lavender is wonderful for sleep I have a spray I can spray on my pillowcase and it puts me right to sleep. Before you go to bed you can take a hot bath and put lavender in it. Either way, it’s heavenly.

Nature sounds of any kind are very relaxing and playing them while you go to sleep can help. There are many applications for cell phones that include timers so you don’t have to turn them off after you fall asleep. This is good if you can’t relax, or if your bedroom tends to be noisy. Do not play music it will keep you and your mind awake.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

I like to get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night including weekends. The recommended amount is a full 7 to 8 hours a night. I set my alarms so I go to sleep at 10:05 and get up at 7 am. That leaves me about 9 hours leeway and most of the time I can sleep 8 hours or more. Part of that time is spent reading. I used to be an insomniac now I sleep like a baby but it didn’t happen overnight it took some time and planning.

It’s up to you!

You need to find what is right for you and stick with it. It might take you as long as a few months to get settled into it. Sleeping well is hard work for us folks that have trouble sleeping. It will happen! Things will come up that mess with your sleep plans but the next day get right back at it. As long as you leave time to get ready for bed and have your bedroom set up for sleep you’ll be doing awesome in no time.

Sleep has super powers.

There are new studies coming out all of the time about the powers of sleep. It’s been proven that getting enough sleep makes you live longer. People who get enough sleep actually eat 300 less calories a day when they were well rested. Sleep brightens your mood for the day. People who get enough sleep don’t get sick as much. Your blood pressure goes down when you sleep giving your heart a break. Sleep helps you make better decisions and boosts your creativity. It also gives you more energy. They are finding out new things about how sleep helps us all of the time.

Let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions about sleeping better.

Now, get some sleep!

Links from howsleepworks.com, psychologytoday.com, sleepdex.org, and webmd.com.

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Author: Bekkie Sanchez

I'm a capricious poet that thirsts to write. I was brought into this world wanting to describe it and poetry chose me. I live to create, read and ride my bicycle. Music keeps me grounded. If you like my work it makes it all worthwhile.

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