We all know that exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet are critical factors to living a healthy lifestyle; but, did you know that a good night’s sleep can sometimes be just as important? Studies have shown that sleep helps control your weight, affects your mood and ability to solve problems, impacts your body’s immune system, and may impact chronic conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes.
What Makes You Sleep?
Your body has an “internal clock” that plays a major role in helping you know when to sleep and when to wake up. This clock also called a circadian rhythm, typically has a 24-hour repeating cycle in which chemicals are released that give your body signals to go to sleep or start to wake up. For example, the hormone melatonin signals your body to prepare for sleep and usually makes you feel drowsy. Your circadian rhythm does change with age and time. You need more sleep earlier in life when you are growing and developing than you do when you are a matured adult.
The Stages of Sleep
There are 5 main stages of sleep you go through per night, typically 4-5 times. Stage 1 is light sleep, where you drift in and out, can be easily awakened, and may have a sense of falling. Stage 2 is also known as preparation sleep. Here, your eye movement stops brain waves slow, and your temperature and heart rate drop. In stage 3, or deep sleep, you might sleepwalk, have night terrors, or talk in your sleep. Stage 4 is also part of deep sleep but your brain waves are very slow and if woken up here, you might feel groggy and confused. Stage 5 is REM, where your brain mimics being awake and eye movement is quick! Stages 3 and 4 are the most healing for your body.
So How Much Sleep Should You Get?
This is such a controversial question! Most people require around eight hours of good, quality sleep a night to function properly. If you wake up tired and spend all day longing for a quick nap, it may just be that you’re not getting enough sleep! Sleep tracking devices have become popular to use at night and can help you understand the amount and quality of sleep you get per night; and, in time, can help avoid over-sleeping or sleeping too little, which can have many negative effects on your health.
The Key To Getting Good Sleep
You want to make sure that you’re sleeping at a time when your body is prepared and ready, allowing for deep, restorative sleep. By keeping a consistent bedtime, dimming the lights, limiting distractions like phones and computers, and following a wind-down ritual, you’re helping your body know that it’s time for bed. Try to avoid napping in the afternoon, get regular exercise, and eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before going to bed as well. Taking the necessary steps to get a good night’s sleep helps ensure that your brain, heart, and entire body, has a chance to rest, recharge and be ready to perform at its absolute best!
” If your bedroom is not a comforting and relaxing place, you’re not going to want to spend a lot of time there. Make adjustments to your bedroom so that it is dark, quiet, cool and cozy.”
Having trouble sleeping? “Rachel Dillinger & the Health Education Department offer f health education classes on sleep and many other topics”
-Rachel Dillinger BSN, RN
Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group (HVVMG) offers highly coordinated patient care and unparalleled benefits for you with a speedy referral system. Heritage has 45 primary care physicians and a panel of two hundred medical specialists across Southern California’s High Desert, as well as the mountain communities. They also have a locally based members service team and is dedicated to a spirit of excellence. HVVMG is part of the Heritage Provider Network