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by Alex Medin December 31, 2022
Sleep is a natural, cyclical process that is essential for overall health and well-being. It is divided into several stages, each of which serves a different purpose. Understanding these stages can help you identify any potential issues that may be disrupting your sleep and learn how to get the most restful and rejuvenating sleep possible.
The first stage of sleep is called non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During this stage, your body begins to relax and your brain waves slow down. As you progress through the stages of NREM sleep, your body becomes more and more relaxed, and your brain waves become slower and more regular.
The final stage of NREM sleep is called slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep. This is the most restful and rejuvenating stage of sleep, and it is essential for physical and mental recovery. During deep sleep, your body repairs and regenerates tissues, strengthens the immune system, and supports brain function.
After several cycles of NREM sleep, you enter the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. During REM sleep, your brain becomes more active and your body becomes paralyzed. This stage is important for learning, memory, and emotional regulation.
It's important to note that the length and proportion of each stage of sleep can vary from person to person and can change throughout the lifespan. It's also important to aim for a consistent sleep schedule and create a comfortable sleep environment to help promote restful sleep.
There are several strategies you can try to help you achieve deep, restful sleep:
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your sleep patterns.
Create a comfortable sleep environment: A cool, completely dark, and quiet bedroom can help promote sleep.
Avoid meals right before bed: Try to have your last meal at least 2 hrs before bedtime (6 pm at the latest).
Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed: Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and reduce the quality of your sleep, so be mindful of your total caffeine intake throughout the day.
Avoid screens before bed: The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep.
Avoid thrills before bed: Thrills or intense experiences can stimulate the body's stress response, causing an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels. This can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep, as the body is in a state of arousal.
Practice relaxation techniques: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation can help relax your body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep.
Get regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help improve sleep quality and duration (but not right before sleep). Learn about one of our favorite forms of exercise here.
Reset your nervous system by regularly getting a massage, a Watsu and/or a simple warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil or other aromatherapy oils.
Consider natural remedies: Some herbs may have sedative effects and be helpful in promoting sleep, such as:
In conclusion, deep, restful sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. By understanding the stages of sleep and implementing strategies to promote deep sleep, you can improve the quality of your sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
If you're experiencing difficulty sleeping or have concerns about your sleep, it would be a good idea to give us a call to schedule an appointment for further evaluation and guidance.
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