One-third of our lives is spent sleeping. However, the attention we give to sleep is significantly less than the time we dedicate to being awake. The nighttime hours, it seems, remain a mystery to us, and we tend to believe that during this time, our bodies are simply “resting.” Often, we sacrifice sleep for other concerns, convinced that missed time can be compensated for later. We don’t always connect the occurrence of illnesses and the deterioration of well-being with insufficient sleep, rarely reflecting on how to make our sleep time maximally beneficial and enjoyable.
But all these shortcomings can be addressed by approaching sleep more consciously. Let’s take a closer look at the functions our bodies perform during nighttime rest and why it is crucial to monitor the quality of our sleep.
- Slow-wave sleep: Slow-wave sleep consists of four stages, where the body enters a state of deep relaxation. In the first stage, a person begins to slowly relax and enters a semi-sleep state. In the second stage, muscles further relax, and pulse and breathing rate slow down. In the third stage, the body reaches almost complete relaxation, and cells begin to actively regenerate. The fourth stage is the stage of deep slow-wave sleep, where the body is fully at rest.
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep: REM sleep, or the REM stage, occurs approximately 70-90 minutes after the onset of sleep. During this stage, there is an increase in brain activity and the occurrence of dreams. Physiologically, this stage is paradoxical: the brain is active, as during wakefulness, while the muscles remain relaxed. This time also contributes to emotional balance restoration, bringing vivid and intense dreams.
Functions of Sleep:
- Body rest: During sleep, our body rests and rejuvenates. Muscles relax, pulse and breathing rate decrease, and body temperature decreases. This period allows organs and systems to recover, prepare for a new day, and maintain overall efficiency.
- Information processing: Dreams and the processing of information that occurs during sleep play a crucial role in memory and learning. The brain uses this period to process impressions and events from the day, helping us better remember and assimilate new information.
- Regulation of psychomotional state: Sleep is a key element in maintaining mental health. Overnight, the body regulates levels of various chemicals in the brain that affect emotional state. This helps us better cope with stress and improves overall emotional resilience and well-being.
Rules for Healthy Sleep:
- Regular routine: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This helps establish stability for your body’s circadian rhythm, which, in turn, contributes to improved sleep quality.
- Avoiding food before bedtime: Try not to consume food closer than two hours before sleep. This facilitates the digestion process and makes sleep more comfortable.
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine can negatively impact sleep quality. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid their consumption before bedtime.
- Physical activity and fresh air: Evening walks in the fresh air can promote faster sleep onset. Physical activity during the day can also positively impact the quality of your sleep.
- Relaxation before sleep: Avoid stress and try relaxing methods before sleep, such as reading, a warm bath, or meditation. Go to sleep with positive thoughts.
- Well-maintained bedroom: Ensure good ventilation in the bedroom, maintain dark and quiet conditions. This creates a comfortable environment for quality rest.
Taking care of your sleep is an investment in overall health and life energy. Remember the rules of healthy sleep and give your body the opportunity to fully recover. After all, healthy sleep is the path to a healthy life!