How to get a good sleep?
Supplements and General Health • • 1 minute to read • By INFS Faculty
Author- Shubham Modi
A state of the brain which is characterized by altered consciousness, coupled with reduced sensory, and muscular activity with inefficient interaction with surroundings.
Sleep is a crucial part of a person’s daily routine. Humans spend about one-third of their life sleeping. The evidence suggests that sleep can help the body to recover and can be used as a coping mechanism. There are some studies around cerebrospinal fluid and its connection with sleep. That study suggests that during the period of deep sleep, the cerebrospinal fluid washes in and out like waves, which clears the accumulated metabolic waste, in short, clearing the cache and junk from our brain.
We still need more data around this but isn’t this fascinating, a normal thing that we do every day has an extremely positive impact on the brain and overall health?
Quality and quantity, both matter. Quality sleep and enough of it are essential to survive, thrive, and grow. Without sleep, a person can’t form or maintain the pathways in the brain that let it learn and create new memories, and it becomes harder to concentrate and respond quickly.
Sleep is also important to help the body perform a variety of functions including how neurons communicate with each other and affect almost every type of tissue and system in the body – including the brain, heart, and lungs to processes like metabolism, immune function functioning, disease resistance, mood, stress management, etc.
Similar to its roles, the quality and phases of sleep are dynamic in nature.
Different stages of sleep
There are 2 basic types: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM
Each of them is linked to different and very specific brain waves and neuronal activities. During sleeping, a person transits between different sub-phases of REM and non-REM sleep.
The 1st phase is Stage 1 non-REM sleep, which is the transition from wakefulness to sleep. This lasts for several minutes and is characterized as relatively light sleep with episodes of muscle relaxation, reduced heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements. The brain waves begin to slow from their wakefulness patterns.
Stage 1 is followed by Stage 2 non-REM sleep, which is the transition period of light sleep to deeper sleep. Heartbeat and breathing slow down, and the muscles relax even further. The body’s temperature drops and eye movements stop.
Then Stage 3 takes over, it is the period of deep sleep that makes us feel refreshed in the morning. It occurs for longer periods and the heartbeat and breathing slow down to their lowest levels during sleep. Brain waves become even slower and muscles are further relaxed.
REM sleep first occurs after about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Most of the dreaming occurs during REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids. The arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents accidents during sleep. Mixed frequency brain waves become similar to that seen in wakefulness. Breathing becomes faster and irregular, and the heart rate and blood pressure increase to near waking levels.
So the question now is, How Much Sleep Do You Need?
As per the National Sleep Foundation, there is no fixed number of minutes or hours of sleep that can guarantee a sense of feeling refreshed to any person. But based on a person's age and lifestyle, what’s recommended will likely fall within a certain range.
Newborns: From 0-3 months, babies need between 14 and 17 hours of sleep. This includes daytime naps since newborns rarely sleep through the night. Older infants (4-11 months) need about 12 to 15 hours of sleep each day.
Toddlers: Between the first and second years of life, toddlers need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep each night.
Children: Preschoolers (3-5 years) should get 10 to 13 hours, while school-age kids (6-13 years) should strive for nine to 11 hours each night.
Teenagers: As kids get older, their need for sleep decreases slightly. Teens (14-17 years) require about eight to 10 hours of nightly sleep.
Adults: Between the ages of 18 and 64, adults should aim for seven to nine hours of nightly sleep. If you’re older than 65, you may need a little less: seven to eight hours is recommended.
The National Sleep Foundation acknowledges that the ideal amount of sleep can vary from person to person. These recommendations also acknowledge that, for some people with unique circumstances, there’s some wiggle room on either side of the range for an “acceptable,” though still not optimal, amount of sleep. That means some people need every extra bit of the upper range to recover and feel refreshed, and some can just stick to the lower number.
Deciding how much sleep depends on the consideration of overall health, daily activities, and typical sleep patterns.
Quality of sleep
Sleep quality is somewhat hard to understand and measure compared to quantity. As per the National Sleep Foundation, these pointers can help a person judge the quality of sleep.
- The amount of time taken to fall asleep after going into bed. If it is more than 30 minutes, chances are that the sleep quality is somewhat poor. This could be a good question to start with, but before using this as a starting point, a person must consider their habits, as due to the current lifestyle everyone is somewhat working from home, and chances are that they fail to understand the difference between going into bed for sleeping, or using their phone and sleeping ad libitum.
- Regularly waking up more than once? This can help a person understand the overall sleeping patterns, but again, a person needs to add one more question with it, whether they can go back to sleep again in 20 minutes or not. If the answer is yes, the sleep quality is somewhat good, and that person can find out the potential reason for waking up, the temperature of the room, urination signals, notifications, noise, etc.
- If a person feels tired even after having sufficient hours of sleep, this can be a potential problem with caffeine, alcohol, micronutrient deficiency (Ji, et.al, 2017), etc. Finding a solution is very easy, ruling out possible things, or getting help from an expert can help.
- Feeling hungry more often without any reason. Sleep loss is linked with the alteration of the hunger hormone (Spiegel et.al 2004), and that induces hunger (St-Onge et.al, 2012), which makes a person eat more, thus leading to obesity.
- Unexplained mood swings and behavioral changes are also linked with sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep (Saghir et.al 2018). Fixing the sleeping schedule and overall quality of sleep can help manage emotional distress and can improve overall .
How does it affect muscle gain and fat loss?
When in a fat loss journey, messing up with the sleep cycle is just like clicking the defrost button after putting a water bottle inside a freezer. Sleep is linked with optimal performance and recovery and we have sufficient evidence around the fact that sleep loss triggers the release of ghrelin and affects the release of leptin, which are the hunger hormones .
A study was done in 2010 (Nedeltcheva et.al, 2010) showed that participants who slept optimally lost half of the weight from fats, and when slept less, only ¼ of the lost weight was fat.
More data is still required around this because there were some limitations with the study, (sample size and duration) but the study setting was good enough to trust the data as of now.
For muscle gain, poor sleep quality and getting insufficient sleep are linked to reduced strength output (Dattilo et.al, 2011) and inefficient recovery post-training (Chen et.al, 2017), it is also linked with increased cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone and can directly affect the muscle hypertrophy and leads to muscle loss (Braun et.al, 2015).
Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep
After all the informational bombarding around sleep quality and quality, let's talk about a few things which can help a person improve sleep quality and manage the overall time spend during that process.
Set a schedule – The body’s natural clock, circadian rhythm adapts to a particular schedule, and changing it often affects the body’s capabilities to recover and process the stimulus.
Create a room for sleep – avoid bright lights and loud sounds, and keep the room at a comfortable temperature.
Use a blue light filter - Research suggests that people who spend more time in direct eye contact with blue light take longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next-morning alertness. (Chang et.al, 2015)
Eat carbohydrates before bed - Research suggests that consuming carbohydrates increases tryptophan (Spring B. 1984) and serotonin (Wurtman et.al, 1995), two brain chemicals involved in sleep.
No caffeine before bed
Get help - If you’ve tried everything, and yet are not able to get sound sleep, it is always better to meet a doctor and get yourself checked.
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