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For me, nothing is as rewarding as lying down on my comfy bed and drifting off into la-la land. I realized that without proper sleep, I was literally crud the next day. A good night's sleep results in me being more energetic, patient, and positive. A lack of sleep causes me to be irritable, impatient, and grouchy; which leads me to eat crappier, not exercise, and can cause tension in my relationships.


There's a couple of important things you may need to know in order to understand whether or not you are having some sleep difficulties:

1) REM (rapid eye movement) sleep (stage 5) is the most important stage of your rest. It is also the stage in which you have your dreams

...and...

2) You cycle throughout the stages (1-5) multiple times throughout the night, and sometimes stages can be skipped (for instance, you can be in REM sleep and skip to stage 2 after 10 minutes).

Having that knowledge under your belt, let's move on to some major points:

-It's generally understood that you can't make up sleep, which means, if you sleep for three hours one night you cannot make it up the next night. Once you lose your sleep you lose it forever.
-Adults need 6-8 hours of sleep every night in order to feel refreshed the next day.
-Alcohol (any alcohol) can lessen your metabolism by 70%, and also disrupts your REM sleep. Even if you drink until you are obliterated and pass out, that sleep will never cycle naturally into your REM sleep. You only sleep through the shallow stages of rest and your body never really has the opportunity to rejuvenate.
-Caffeine or exercise too close to bedtime can also keep you up later than you'd like. Don't forget caffeine is a stimulant and gets your heart pumping, so your body needs extra time to calm down. Exercise has the same effect as caffeine and can keep you awake longer than you'd like.
-Drinking water or liquid before bed can disrupt your sleep by making you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.


Here are some tips to making your sleeping even better:

-Keep the temperature cool.
-If you are a light sleeper, have a fan on or a noise maker that plays thunder, ocean waves, or other tranquil sounds.
-Do not fall asleep in front of the television! The light disrupts your sleep.
-Use your bed for sleep only. Make it a ritual that your bed is not for reading, watching television, or doing homework. Let your body know it's time to relax once you get into bed.
-Try keeping to a bedtime and go to bed at the same time every night.

If you have a hard time getting to sleep because your mind is racing, try using the breathing techniques I discuss in my second entry. To briefly recap, it's a mental exercise that helps to clear your mind and allows for sleep to come swiftly and sweetly. You can also try relaxation CD's or other therapeutic exercises. Sleep aids are also available, though I personally stay away from anything unnatural to my body. Too many people want a quick fix with minimal effort on their part, and I truly believe this can lead to other dependencies. Regardless, some people really do need the extra help.

In the end, please remember to take your sleep seriously. I don't know about you, but my favorite part of the day is catching those Z's.

Picture 172
My cat, Meeko, snoozing it up!


Thanks for reading, and take care!

-MUR

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Mur

June 2013

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