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Before the 1950s, scientists believed that when you fall asleep, your brain, as well as your body, go into a blackout period or a shutdown mode. Recent researches have shown that sleep is a lot more complicated than that. Scientists now divide sleep into different cycles, each having its benefits on the human body. To understand the health benefits of a regular, quality sleep, it’s important to understand the stages of sleep.
Four stages of sleep
1st stage: This is the initial stage that starts within minutes, sometimes even seconds, of you, nodding off. It’s also the briefest period and lasts between five to ten minutes. You’re in light sleep can be easily awoken.
2nd stage: Stage two is also light sleep, however, the brain starts producing sleep spindles, which are a unique type of wave frequency. The frequency gradually lessens and your sleep becomes deeper.
3rd and 4th stages: These stages mark the beginning of deep sleep. Slower delta waves are produced by the brain in 3rd stage. There’s barely any muscle movement, and it becomes hard to wake up. Researchers and scientists agree that the muscles and tissues get repaired during the fourth stage, and the immune system gets the boost and energy for the next day.
REM sleep stage: This is the fifth and the deepest stage of sleep, and is known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM. It kicks in after about 90 minutes of initially falling asleep, and each REM stage usually lasts for about one hour. A healthy individual who gets eight hours of sleep can have four to six REM cycles each night. This is when your eyes jerk, body heats up, pulse and breathing quicken, and most dreams occur. It can be seen in infants pretty commonly. In addition to improving your immune system and repairing your tissues and muscles, this stage also helps improve learning and memory function, improve your brain’s ability to consolidate and process info accumulated during the day.
Health benefits of a good sleep
After a good night’s sleep, you feel fresh and full of energy, but regular, sound sleep can have many other, long-term health benefits. There are many well-known benefits of good quality sleep such as more energy, better overall health, improved memory, curbed inflammation, better mood, more creativity, and less stress. However, there are some benefits that not many people know of.
Better immune system
While better sleep might not guarantee, researches show that getting eight hours of sleep can boost the immune system. For instance, a study conducted on 150 people found that people who got at least eight hours of sleep, when exposed to a cold virus, were three times less likely to catch a cold as compared to those who slept for seven hours or less.
Several studies have shown Alzheimer’s link with REM. The most popular being the part of the Framingham Heart Study, which involved 321 people with an average age of 61 observed for 12 years. 24 of these people developed Alzheimer’s, while eight others developed a different form of dementia. The researchers found that individuals who took longer than 90 minutes were more prone to getting Alzheimer’s.
Another recent study published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology reveals that people who get less REM are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
Better weight control
Individuals who sleep well have a two-pronged benefit, one is behavioral, and the other is physiological. Since they are not overtired, they will have the energy to go for a jog, to the gym, and even cook a healthy meal. The physiological part deals with a hormone called leptin, which controls the feeling of how full you are. When you get enough sleep, its level rises, and vice versa. In other words, if you don’t sleep well, you’ll feel hungry and crave for high-calorie and high-fat food.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study that claimed that people who stayed up late night ate more snacks and also chose high-crab snacks. A second study by the University of Chicago found that sleep-deprived people at snacks with nearly twice as much fat as others who slept eight hours or more.
Tips for better quality sleep
Stick to an ironclad schedule of the same wake-up time and bed time
If you’ve trouble sleeping at night, avoid naps in the afternoon
Exercise daily, stay hydrated and eat healthy foods
Make sure your room is free of any noise (unless you prefer white noise), has a temperature level between 60-68 degrees, and consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, and ear plugs
Choose a comfortable pillow and mattress. A mattress that’s passed its life expectancy needs to be replaced with a new, comfortable and supportive one. A soft pillow will not only make the room look good but will also ensure a better snooze. Check out more ideas about comfortable pillows.
Last but not the least, try to stay happy and eliminate stress from your life.
Do you have tips for better quality sleep?
What suggestions can you give that help you get better qualify sleep? Perhaps you disagree with this article. Please let us know in the comment box below!