The Power of Sleep
The act of sleeping. Something so routine and overlooked may be the key to one’s health and well-being. Sleeping issues have plagued humans for centuries but today’s technological advancements are feeding an every growing monster. Lack of sleep can contribute to small things such as fatigue but can also facilitate more sinister of problems. On the other hand, advanced sleeping regimens can offer an performance advantage in the office as well as on the field.
A Sleep Sick Society
"Study after study has revealed that people who are chronically sleep deprived can be completely unaware of the root cause of their overwhelming fatigue. Many people conclude that being run down, apathetic, and glum, must be the normal human condition, or can be attributed to boredom, warm rooms, or heavy meals."
The evidence that we are malnourished sleep wise is concrete. The exact mechanisms for why, however, is not. Before we can lay blame to our habits and rituals, it helps to understand what happens while we sleep.
Stages of Sleep
During sleep, the body cycles between 4 non-REM (rapid eye movement) stages and one REM stage totaling 5 stages. Throughout the night, the body will go through these 5 stages 4-6 times, spending an average of 90 minutes in each stage. Stage 1 and 2 (non-REM) are considered light sleep while 3, 4, and REM are labeled as deep sleep. Each stage serves a unique restorative function which means it is crucial to properly cycle through each stage. The following is a brief description of each stage:
Sleep Debt - Myth or Real?
Essentially, all wakefulness is sleep deprivation. Like hunger and food, when the former increases to a considerable level the latter is all that the individual will desire. It is easy to understand sleep debt in great scales, such as pulling an all-nighter to study. However, studies are revealing the effects of minor sleep debt which can range from subtle problems like sleepiness to more significant issues like insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
How can I get good sleep at night?
Well for starters, make sleep a priority like you would diet and exercise. In fact, quality sleep may be the missing link to achieving your fitness and performance goals. My biggest recommendation is to establish a night time routine that consists of winding down and relaxing. These routines should also consist of avoiding stimulatory mediums like cell phones and TV’s. The following are some Do’s and Don’ts for assuring a quality night sleep:
DO'S for a Good Night's Sleep
DON'TS for a Good Night's Sleep
The biggest violator to good sleep in our society is the increased blue light and stimulatory activities before bed which often results in an increased time to fall asleep. Also, the workaholic mentality that is a hallmark of our country is silently destroying us. Pushing our work into the late hours of the night all but virtually guarantees starting the next day with a struggle.
You Owe Yourself a Good Night's Sleep!
So put down your phones and make an attempt to get around 8 hours a sleep a night. Plan ahead and coordinate an effective routine to get you on track in the evenings. If there are potential medical problems preventing quality of sleep, then seek help from a medical provider. If you are unsure of whether or not you are sleeping well, a well-executed sleep study may uncover more than you think. You owe it to yourself and your family to operate on a full tank. And, you just might find that your low back pain and headaches improve quite a bit.
Originally posted 03/05/2018