Have you ever felt so tired and drained from the day’s tasks, duties and activities, and yet find yourself unable to sleep as soon as you hit the sack? Do you ever toss and turn at night? Or do you wake up in the middle of the night and then can’t fall asleep again until sunrise? If you are thinking ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you might be sleep deprived.
Why is Getting a Good Night of Sleep Important?
Sufficient sleep is crucial for good health. It is the time when we process information and experiences, and rebuild and regenerate our body. Disruptions in this process will lessen the body’s optimal functioning and could possibly result in not feeling well and even illness.
During sleep, our brain is very active – contrary to the belief that it is turned off. Fact is, that our brain waves are very dynamic during sleep and its activity fluctuates from highly active to moderately active depending on what sleep cycle we are in. This brain wave activity is visible on an Electroencephalograms (EEG).
There are different stages of sleep we transition through during any given night.
The first stage NREM – Non-Rapid Eye Movement, which begins as a person transitions from a state of awakeness to nodding off. As we delve deeper into the NREM cycle, we are increasingly less responsive to our external environment.
The next stage is called REM – Rapid Eye Movement, describing exactly what happens: our eyes move rapidly back and forth. It’s a phase during which our brain is quite active and we have vivid dreams. This is the time when our body repairs and regenerates itself. We process information and experiences, which leads to the generation of memories. These two cycles alternate throughout a night’s sleep.
Good sleep not only improves health and memories, it also could extend people’s lifespan. Dr. Raymonde Jean, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, stated that the quality of sleep is directly related to the quality of life. A 2010 study involving women ages 50-79 revealed that women who sleep for five hours or less have a shorter lifespan than those who sleep for more than 6 hours per night.
Lack of sleep can also result in weight gain. According to Dr. Chris Winter, owner of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, the brain needs energy to function and if sleep does not offer the required resources, a person tends to eat to stay awake.
Sleep deprivation reduces our reaction time, motor skills and overall neurological functions. We are less alert, less productive, less thorough, all of which leads to lower performance, and increases the potential for injuries and accidents.
How Can You Improve Your Nightly Sleep?
Home remedies to improve sleep:
- Curb your coffee intake at night.
- Cut back on alcohol a few hours before retiring for the night.
- Avoid taking cold showers, instead take a steamy, hot shower which relaxes your body.
- Turn off external distractions such as iphones, ipads, TV, stereo equipment, etc.
- Ensure a comfortable sleep environment by maintaining a suitable room temperature. Proper sleep means a good memory foam mattress or any mattress type that you like, sheets and a memory foam pillow.
- Take supplements that encourage sleep (eg. Melatonin, chamomile)
- Essential oils that promote deep sleep
This carefully selected blend of relaxing oils helps calm and relax the mind and body. This blend helps to unwind after a hectic day and promotes falling asleep and remaining asleep throughout the night.
Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and stress. It puts the mind and body into a calm, relaxed state that leads into the falling asleep process.
Spanish Marjoram (Thymus Mastichina) has sedative effects and is anti-spasmodic. Copaiba (Copaifera Officinales) lowers blood pressure and relaxes the body. Clary Sage is also anti-spasmodic, and is valued for improving mental strength and confidence.
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) has a calming effect on the nervous system and relaxes the body, as such it helps reduce the uncontrolled spasms of restless leg syndrome.
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