- Sleep awareness week focuses on encouraging a good night's sleep
- It is celebrated between March 6th and March 13th
- Adequate sleep promotes good health and improves relationships
Sleep is not about completely switching off and allowing the body to rest, but about starting off a complex set of processes that help the body feel refreshed and rested the next day. In view of the sleep awareness week, here are the 4 stages of sleep.
‘A good pre-sleep ritual and effective time management of work will ensure good sleep, bringing in a multitude of benefits for health and well being.’
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- The person can be easily woken up
- The muscles start relaxing, but they may twitch slightly
- There may be slow movements of the eye
- The person loses touch with the surroundings
- Breathing and heart rate are at a regular pace
- There are no eye movements
- Brain waves are slower
- Damaged cells and tissue are repaired
- There is a drop in blood pressure
- Brain waves are slower than in stage 2
- There is release of hormones
- There is a restoration of energy
- This is the dream state where the brain gets active
- There is no movement of muscles
- Heartbeat and breathing become irregular
- Eyes move rapidly, thus giving this stage the name REM.
Benefits of Sleep
A good sleep will provide a host of benefits for the body.
1. Memory: When a person is well rested, they will remember things and places a lot better than if they have had a disturbed sleep.
2. Controls inflammation: C-reactive protein which is a marker for inflammation is found to be higher among people who sleep less than 6 hours a day. Inflammation increases the risk of heart attack, diabetes, arthritis and stroke.
3. Increases attention span: People who have had sufficient sleep, can focus better and have better attention span than people who do not have enough sleep.
4. Improves creativity: As the brain and body have rested well, there is greater scope for creative pursuits than if the individual has not slept well.
5. Better drivers: There are so many accidents due to the driver dozing off at the wheel. To avoid this, sleep better.
6. Lowered stress levels: People who sleep well are happier, stress-free, make more friends and stay clear from depression.
7. Weight watch: People who have adequate sleep have a healthy weight.
Sleep is highly beneficial for the body to help it recuperate from illnesses or even from the rigors of daily life. The number of hours that are earmarked for sleep should not be lowered unless there is an emergency or an unforeseen incident.
Effective time management will ensure that work schedules do not infringe on sleep time, but the individual is solely responsible for making time for sleep.
7 Day Challenge for Improved Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation has provided changes that can be included in our daily life, one for each day, to have a good night's sleep. It is difficult to bring in many new changes into our lifestyle in a single day, but if the changes are scattered over a week, they can be achieved. Try to incorporate these necessary changes into your lifestyle during this sleep awareness week to enjoy benefits of a good night's sleep throughout.
Day 1: Make time: An adult would require a minimum of 7 hours of good night's sleep, some might need even more. Understand the requirements of your body and plan your day so that you get 7 to 9 continuous hours of sleep.
Day 2: Eat early: A minimum of two hours between your last meal of the day and bedtime will ensure that the food is digested well and you sleep undisturbed.
Day 3: Switch off cell phones: Some studies claim that cell phone signals affect the brain while others suggest that the blue flashing light affects sleep patterns. The best thing to do is to keep your phone away from your bed or switch your phone off and turn it on when you wake up the next day.
Day 4: A sleeping den: It does not matter what you work as or how busy you are or how you love your T.V., a bedroom should be all about sleep. From the color of the wall to good window blinds, everything should be structured around having a good night's rest.
Day 5: Prepare yourself for a good night's sleep: Follow a specific routine every day before bedtime so that your body automatically is tuned to sleep, once you start the routine. This could be a lovely warm bath or slathering yourself with a moisturizing cream.
Day 6: Write it down: Sometimes things to do or nagging fears keep people awake. The best thing to do would be to write it down. This gives a sense of peace and will aid in better sleep. So forget your worries and sleep like a baby.
Day 7: Make sleep a priority: Just like you would schedule a meeting with your boss or how you would make time to take the kids out to the park, make sure sleep is a priority.
People tend to take sleep time as a luxury, something that they can afford to reduce in time, however, the benefits that you can reap from a good night's sleep make it a necessity. Active effort should be taken to safeguard sleep time.
If your spouse likes to read with the light on and you can't stop that from happening, then wear an eye mask. If it's the T.V., then put your ear plugs on too. If sleep apnea is affecting your's or your spouse's sleep pattern, then get it treated without delay. Apart from sleep apnea, older adults suffer from sleep disorders which affect the quality of their sleep. Take proactive steps to get your period of shut-eye, it will do you and your relationships a whole lot of good.
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