We sleep for around 30% of our lives, 7-8 hours of a 24 hour day. Some of us sleep really well, some of us sleep really badly. We all dread waking up unless you have the ability to sleep so well. Rarely there are people who can fucntion on a very limited amount of sleep entirely.
There are many things that happen during this long period of time, and it is vital we get it right for recovery and well-being.
REM sleep, otherwise known as that deep sleep we get in to, or struggle to get in to, is the part where recovery happens. The recovery happens in two parts:
For the first 4 hours of REM sleep you are recovering physically; i.e. the time when muscle, tendon etc recovery takes place.
For the next 4 hours of REM sleep you are recovering mentally; i.e. the time when the brain recovers energy.
That's why if you have only 6 or 7 hours sleep you have recovered physically, but have only partly mentally recovered, which is why you tend to feel groggy in the morning. If you only have around 4 hours sleep you are likely to feel a bit achy.
That is the general idea of REM sleep. It is vital for physical and emotional/mental recovery. If you don't have regular 8 hours sleep you are not giving your body enough rest to function.
So how do we get a good night's sleep? Here are some general tips:
1) Sleep regularly, at the same times every night, and wake up regularly. The body loves consistency.
2) Any source of light will keep your mind going, which makes achieving REM sleep a lot harder.
3) Don'y eat at least 2 hours before sleep.
4) Increase the amount of Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B in your diet.
5) As you are trying to sleep, imagine your muscles reacting areas at a time, for example the muscles from your feet all the way to your head.
6) If you are waking up for work, set the alarm for half an hour before you have to get up to do your morning routine, and just stay in bed, not to go back to sleep, but to read or check your phone.
7) A bath makes anyone sleepy!
8) Avoid naps during the day.
9) Little or no caffeine from mid-late afternoon to night....obviously.
10) Your bedroom/sleeping area should aim to be between 14 to 18 degrees centigrade.
11) Don't go to bed on a full stomach.
Now what is the nicest way to wake up? Loud alarm noises? Nope. The best and most natural way of waking up is by light. Either have weak blinds or curtains, or buy one of those alarm clocks that wake you up with gradual light. Lumie is a brand of such alarm clocks. A good alarm clock from Amazon costs around £50. It is well worth it and is easier to wake up to.
Sleep is important for happiness and feeling good. If you are sleeping right you will live right. A comfy bed is important, pillows are vital. Never assume you can rely on only 5 or 6 hours. 8 is important for the physical and the mental side of living. Give your body all the chance it can to seize the day tomorrow.