Sleep Phases And 8 Valuable Tips To Sleep Better

by Khadija MAWHOUB

We spend around a third of our lives asleep. Sleep is a recurring condition in which body and mind come to rest. It is important for growth and memory. Your body recovers, the muscles relax and your memory is saved. You are preparing for a new day.

The 4 Main Phases Of Sleep

Sleep is a complex process in the brain that is influenced by a variety of internal and external factors. All sleep, from going to bed to getting up, can be divided into four phases:

  1. The preparation
  2. The falling asleep
  3. The sleep
  4. Waking up

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1. The Preparation To Sleep Phase

yawn, burning and heavy eyelids – there are clear symptoms with which sleep announces itself. So the body indicates that after a period of mental and physical activity, it needs rest.

2. Falling asleep Phase

You gradually become less aware of your surroundings. It is characteristic that the fast eye movements change into slow, rolling movements. When you fall asleep, your body temperature drops. The body releases moisture (perspiration) that evaporates on the skin. A well-ventilated bedroom, mattress, and bed are therefore important.

3. Sleeping Phase

The sleep itself consists of different cycles. After each cycle, we come to an intermediate stage, where we wake up briefly. On average, we wake up seven to ten times a night, mostly without being aware of it.

In each cycle of approximately 1.5 hours, you go through the following 3 phases:

1- Light Sleep Stage

The first stage of your sleep is light and short. You only get to this stage a few times a night. When you get to this stage for the first time, your thoughts slowly slide away and the muscles begin to relax. The pulse then slows down and the body temperature drops.

2- Deep Sleep Stage

After about 20 minutes, the body and brain are very relaxed. Brain activity is now the lowest. This stage is also called deep sleep. During deep sleep, the chance of waking up spontaneously is the smallest and the most difficult to wake up. Deep sleep is very important for physical and mental recovery and health.

3- REM Sleep Stage

After about thirty minutes of a deep sleep, something strange happens: the brain and body move quickly, instead of being relaxed, the pulse begins to accelerate, breathing becomes shallow, the eyes jump back and forth. You are in REM sleep, named after the rapid eye movements: Rapid Eye Movements. This is also the phase in which you dream. You wake up briefly and another cycle with its different phases follows.

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4. Waking up Phase

In the morning, deep sleep is relatively rare, so that the change to being awake can be gradual. When you wake up, your body temperature rises. The body itself takes care of this as if the biological clock is switching on the heating.

What Happens When You Sleep?

  • The brain is active during sleep, but differently than when awake. It can be compared to a kind of maintenance. All information received is processed, archived, cleaned up.
  • Sleep allows the body to recover from the day’s exertion. The formation of growth hormones reaches its peak, the speed of cell division increases, we refuel mentally.
  • The muscles rest during sleep. Because muscles are strained all day or for a long time.
  • You move in your sleep, you turn around 30 times a night. These movements are also necessary. If you lie still for too long, there is pressure on the body, which can lead to irritation after some time.
  • On average, people dream two hours a night, even if many do not remember anything in the morning. Of the five dreams on average per night, we can remember an average of one or two a week

Insufficient or Poor Sleep?

The quality of your sleep affects your entire daily routine. If we do not sleep or sleep too little, the function of our brain is greatly affected. It reduces memory, concentration, language skills, reaction speed, and determination, as well as a feeling for time, space and planning. It also affects our emotions and physical health. Poor and insufficient sleep can have a negative impact on our mood and endurance. Good sleep provides more energy and a healthy body.

8 Valuable Tips To Sleep Better

Tip 1: Make Yourself Comfortable

Create a sleeping environment in which you feel completely comfortable: a comfortable bed, a good mattress, a comfortable lying position, and the right sleeping temperature – not too warm and not too cold.

“A good guideline is a temperature of around 18 degrees.  Anyone who feels uncomfortable, freezes, gets cold feet or sweats, should adjust sleepwear, blankets or room temperature. Tight sleepwear could also hinder sleep and cause sleepless nights.

Tip 2: Discover The Dark Side of The night

Bright light with a strength of 5,000 to 10,000 lux is quite good for the body. We release serotonin, which has an activating and antidepressant function.

Bright light shortens the length of sleep because serotonin suppresses melatonin.” If the sun comes out early in the morning, a dark curtain or sleeping glasses could extend our sleep.

Tip 3: Put Your Smartphone in Night Mode

Checking emails and the latest news before going to sleep? Better not: “The light from smartphones and tablets is just as cumbersome as daylight”. The high proportion of blue light in the displays inhibits the production of melatonin in the brain. That is why it is better to switch off cell phones in the evening.

newer smartphones offer a compromise if you can’t do without the smartphone on your bed. The “night mode” reduces the activating, short-wave blue light between 450 to 480 nanometers, so that the melatonin production is less inhibited.

Tip 4: Relax

We need rest to sleep. And that is disturbed by noise, for example when the bedroom is on a busy street. Then it means: close the window or use earplugs to reduce the noise level.

“Churning activities before bed can also be counterproductive,”. Sports activities, engaging computer games or exciting films drive your pulse, blood pressure, and breathing rate up – and prevent us from resting. It can even create stress and the thoughts may circle around the PC game for a while while you are already in bed and should be sleeping. It is essential to avoid this. Rely on autogenic training or read a book.

Tip 5: Create a Sleep Ritual

Those who have difficulty getting to rest in the evening can put the body into sleep mode with a regular sleep ritual. This could be regular bedtime, relaxation exercises or a cup of soothing hot tea.

“Some people feel comfortable with valerian products, which are freely available in pharmacies, for example,”. On the other hand, the sleep doctor advises against sleeping pills as far as possible. These could quickly become addictive within a few weeks. “Those who take sleeping pills over a long period of five to ten years often need just as long to get away from it,”.

Sudden withdrawal of sleeping pills is difficult with a dependency because withdrawal symptoms appear immediately. In addition, the important REM sleep phase is also suppressed by sleeping pills.

Tip 6: Better Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Heavy Food

An occasional glass of wine in the evening can help you fall asleep. “But too much alcohol is a boomerang, “: “It prevents you from staying asleep because sweat production, alcohol-related dehydration (desiccation) and consequently thirst are stimulated – and, last but not least, increased visits to the toilet.” the victim also wakes up.

In addition, heavy food disrupts sleep because the body has to work harder to digest. For example, carbohydrates and proteins are easier to digest than fatty dishes. That is why people with disturbed sleep should not eat right before sleep. “How long before sleep, there is no general rule. Everyone should try this out for themselves.”

Coffee and caffeinated soft drinks are also not good for sleeping. “Caffeine is the antagonist of sleep-promoting adenosine because caffeine has the same receptors as adenosine, it inhibits fatigue.” 

Tip 7: Don’t Take an Afternoon Nap

Last but not least: Those who cannot sleep may have slept easily enough, for example during the day. “If you regularly take an afternoon nap, but often sleep poorly at night, you should better refrain from taking an afternoon nap”. 

Tip 8: Exercise in The Fresh Air

Sleep problems can also arise if the adenosine release is not promoted enough during the day. “Movement creates adenosine. With a walk in the fresh air, you can support getting tired in the evening.” As mentioned, sport or a lot of exercise at a later hour is not advisable. A short walk is also easier to incorporate into everyday work, for example during lunch break.

As well, even if the daily demands increase steadily, the body needs the sleep to regenerate itself. The impact of lack of sleep on our physical and mental performance and the maintenance of health cannot be underestimated. Therefore, the causes of insomnia should always be clarified by a doctor. Simple measures can often help to find a healthy sleep. In the case of persistent sleep disorders, it can make sense to break the cycle of sleep disorders and restlessness the next day. Soothing sleep aids are available. Your pharmacy will be happy to advise you on the selection of the right sleep aid for you.

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