Waking Up To The Importance Of Sleep

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Waking Up To The Importance Of Sleep

Post by Tee on Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:55 am


Drs. Brenda & Erik Slovin

A good night's sleep is vital to our health and well-being. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation strongly impairs your body's functioning, and that even a partial night of sleep deprivation can reduce cellular immune responses in humans, allowing us to get sick more readily.

One of the biggest misconceptions about sleep is that sleep is just a matter of our bodies "turning off" for several hours, followed by our bodies "turning back on" when we awake. Sleep is not a simple passive activity. Sleep is, in fact, a very active activity. And as psychologists already know, during sleep our brain activity is even more varied than it is during the normal waking hours.

There are 4 major sleep stages:

• Stage 1 sleep, or drowsiness, is often described as first sleep stage. Your eyes are closed during stage 1 sleep, but if you are woke, it's likely that you may feel as though you have not slept. This stage lasts for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.

• Stage 2 is a period of light sleep during which there are spontaneous periods of muscle contractions mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. It is during this time that your heart rate slows down some, and your body temperature decreases. At this point, your body is preparing to enter a deep sleep.

• Stage 3 is a deep sleep stage. This stage is known as slow-wave, or delta sleep.

• Stage 4 is also called REM sleep. REM sleep is distinguishable from the other stages because of its characteristic rapid eye movements. In normal sleep heart rate and respiration speed up and become erratic while the face, fingers and legs may twitch. Intense dreaming occurs during REM sleep as a result of heightened cerebral activity.

Everyone wants better sleep. So how do you know if you aren't getting enough of the deep restful sleep that your body craves? Here are a couple of tell-tale signs:

Do you find it hard to wake up each morning? When you do awaken, do you feel rested? Are you constantly hitting the snooze alarm again, and again, and again? Are you awakened easily with every small noise? Are you finding it hard to stay awake during the day?

This month's action steps: All of the above are signs that you aren't giving your body the deep, restful sleep it so desperately needs. If you find these symptoms keep appearing, your body is at risk for illness. Here are a couple of helpful sleeping hints that you can employ over the next month to aid your sleep:

1) Stay out of your bedroom until you are ready to go to sleep.

2) Remember counting sheep? It's antiquated, but it does work.

3) Have you ever watched a baby fall asleep? Their eyes get heavy, then they open, then they close for a bit longer and then again and again? Try faking your sleep by opening and closing your eyes like a sleepy baby who's trying to stay awake. This is our favorite trick!

4) Avoid naps during the day, or when you first get home from school or work.

5) Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods (like chocolate) at least 5 hours before you plan to go to sleep.

If you find that you've exhausted all of these little tricks and you're still having trouble getting a restful night's sleep, there may be another reason. Make an appointment with your chiropractic or medical professional for some additional guidance.

http://wiltonvillager.com/story/512431

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