Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your good health on so many levels. For instance sleep is essential for:
- Healing and repairing your heart, blood vessels, cells and tissues
- Weight management
- Blood sugar management
- Immune strengthing
- Brain health and memory function
But what exactly is a good night’s sleep? Well, it’s a combination of adequate duration coupled with experiencing the 4 phases of quality sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep is experienced in 4 phases ending with Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and the stages repeat in order every 90-110 minutes as follows:
Stages 1 and 2 are a progression from light sleep through to a gradual slowing of brain waves. In Stage 3 we enter a deeper sleep. If we are awakened during this phase we may feel quite disoriented. Stage 4 is the REM phase. In this final stage our breathing quickens and our eyes move beneath our eyelids. This is our deepest stage of sleep where we can get our most powerful dreams.
So knowing the importance and the characteristics of a good night’s sleep, the question becomes how do we go about achieving it? As they say there are many ways to skin a cat but here are my top 5 recommendations:
- Create a bedtime routine. This will send a signal to your body that rest is coming and then those lovely sleepy time hormones will kick in. For example, turn the lights down, brush your teeth and get in to your jammies at the same time each night.
- Turn all electronics off 1/2 hour before bedtime and keep them out of the bedroom. This will allow your brain to settle down for the night.
- Sleep in a cool, dark room.
- Do not eat right before bedtime. You want your body to be in repair mode not digestion mode.
- Once you are in bed do some deep breathing to slow everything down. I always recommend Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 technique. Breathe in for 4. Hold for 7. Breathe out for 8. Repeat this a few times.
Start working these tips in to your nightly routine and let your good sleep get to work!