With the everyday stresses of life, it can be difficult to settle our minds and relax before we go to sleep each night. Sleep is essential for all of us because we need our bodies and minds to recharge. Healthy sleep will help you feel refreshed whenever you wake up, and the brain won’t be able to function as well when there’s not enough.
Lack of sleep can be attributed to more serious health conditions down the road, which include obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and mental health issues. While there may be some unavoidable things to navigate through like schedules and day-to-day stressors, there are still healthy habits you can pick up to help ensure better sleep.
In this article I will be covering everything you need to know about sleep and how to create a better sleep routine. I will be going over main points that include:
- Science behind sleep
- Healthy habits to improve sleep
- My very own EZ doze supplements
How does Sleep Function?
The internal body clock controls your sleep cycle, helping you feel tired before you fall asleep. The 24-hour cycle of the circadian rhythm is responsible for regulating your body's activity. After getting a good night's sleep, you'll start feeling tired throughout the next day. This will peak in the evening before you head to bed.
The sleep drive is believed to be linked to the production of adenosine, which is an organic compound found in the brain. As you get tired, your body produces more of this compound and breaks down during sleep.
Our circadian rhythms are also influenced by light, which interacts with different parts of the brain. One of these areas includes a region known as the hypothalamus, which is responsible for processing the signals sent by the eyes when exposed to artificial or natural light. These signals help determine whether it's day or night.
The body releases melatonin in the evening as light disappears, and it produces a hormone that causes drowsiness. On the other hand, our bodies will release cortisol when the sun rises to produce alertness and energy.
Stages of Sleep
Our bodies will enter a sleep cycle divided into four stages once we fall asleep. The first three stages are referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and the last stage is known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In this section I will cover these stages in some more detail.
- Stage 1 NREM: The first stage of the transition between sleep and wakefulness is characterized by light sleep. Light sleep allows your body to relax and begin to slow down various movements, such as your breathing and heart rate. The stage will last for several minutes overall.
- Stage 2 NREM: Stage 2 of the sleep cycle is characterized by deep sleep, which is when your breathing and heart rates slow down and you become more relaxed. It also stops moving your eyes and lowers your body temperature. During this period, your brain waves will remain relatively slow.
- Stage 3 NREM: You may feel refreshed and alert the next day from this third stage, as it helps you to get rid of the toxins that have built up in your body. The lower levels of activity in the brain, breathing, and heart can help you feel more comfortable. The duration of this stage will also decrease throughout the night.
- REM: The first stage of REM sleep is triggered around 90 minutes after falling asleep. During this period, your breathing will begin to increase, and your heart rate and blood pressure will also rise. As the night progresses, the duration of the REM cycle increases. REM sleep can help with memory consolidation, as it allows the body to absorb and convert memories into long-term ones.
Most adults need at least seven hours per night to function properly the next day. Not getting enough sleep can lead us more vulnerable to memory loss, reduced cognitive performance, mood shifts, and delayed reactions. Sleep deprivation and insomnia are both conditions associated with sleeping problems.
At one point or another throughout our life, we have dealt with the zombie-like feeling of not getting enough sleep.
Being well rested isn't just about how many hours we got, it involves a variety of factors that can affect quality of sleep. For example, if someone has a sleep insufficiency, they might not be able to wake up refreshed.
A deficiency of sleep can affect a person's overall health. If a person gets enough sleep for eight hours but experiences several awakenings, then they may not get enough rest even though their recommended amount of sleep is attained.
Instead of just referring to the duration of someone's sleep, sleep deficiency and deprivation can also contribute to a person's overall poor sleep quality.
Contrary to sleep deprivation, insomnia is a disorder where people have trouble sleeping no matter what. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes people to have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It can be short or long-term.
Insomnia can last for a short period of time, such as a few weeks. It can also be chronic if it occurs at least three nights a week for several months.
There are two main types of insomnia, which include primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia means that your sleep problems do not relate to any other condition or disease. Those suffering from secondary insomnia have trouble sleeping due to a health condition, such as cancer or depression. It can also be caused by substance use or pain.
Main causes of insomnia include:
- Stress: Getting enough sleep is often difficult due to stress. Some of the factors that can trigger insomnia include work, school, and health concerns. Other stressful life events such as the death of a loved one or a divorce can also affect your sleep.
- Work schedule: The 24-hour cycle of your body is known as your circadian rhythm, and it dictates various factors such as your body temperature, metabolism, and sleep-wake cycle. If your body's internal clock is not working properly, it can lead to insomnia. Some of the causes of this issue include jet lag, working a shift during unusual hours, or having a hectic schedule.
- Poor habits: Having poor sleep habits can affect your ability to get enough sleep. It can also lead to various other issues such as an irregular bedtime, an uncomfortable sleep setting, and use of your bed for other activities. One of the most common factors that can affect your sleep is the use of electronic devices such as televisions, computers, and smartphones.
- Poor diet: Eating too much at night is never the best idea. Although it's fine to have a light snack before bedtime, eating too much can cause you to feel uncomfortable as you're lying down. Heartburn and acid buildup in the esophagus can occur after eating.
Other health related causes of insomnia may include:
- Medical conditions: Some of the conditions that can be linked to insomnia include cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux.
- Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders are also known to affect people's ability to fall asleep. One of these is sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing during the night.
- Stimulants: Stimulants such as alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco products can affect your ability to fall asleep at night. Drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening or late afternoon can prevent us from getting a good night's sleep.
Tips to Wind Down Before Bed
One of the most important factors of a successful bedtime routine is that you stick to it. This will allow your body to learn how to adapt to your wind down activities and start producing the hormone melatonin, which is what helps us fall asleep. Check out these 5 tips to help you relax before bed!
Dim the Lights Around You in the Evening
One of the most important factors that you can consider when it comes to creating a calm environment is the brightness of the lights in your house.
An effective way to prepare for bed is by dimming the lights around your house an hour before you go to bed. This will allow you to get the gentle glow of the light that helps you relax.
Although meditation has various benefits at any time of the day, it’s important to try it in the evening if you’re having trouble falling asleep. It can help people get more of a deep sleep and stimulate the production of melatonin which helps with sleep. It can also lower blood pressure.
Although meditation can be done for a couple minutes, it can also be done in a deep sleep-oriented manner. For people who are anxious at night, a guided meditation might be helpful. This type of meditation lets you listen to the cues that will help you relax.
One of the most effective ways to improve your sleep is by using sleep mantras, which are focused on saying one phrase. This type of meditation can help you relax and focus on one thing at a time.
Schedule Time Away from the Screen
We often get caught up in the endless scrolling of social media and TV shows before falling asleep. Studies have shown that the excessive exposure to blue light from these screens can negatively affect our circadian rhythm. Fortunately, there are devices that can help you set the level of blue light in your screen and adjust it accordingly.
The light emitted by a computer or other electronic device can wake your brain and tell it it's time to wake up. To avoid getting caught up in screen time before sleeping, the National Sleep Foundation suggests cutting down on screen time by at least 30 minutes before you hit the hay.
Listen to Music
Even if you're not planning on doing anything to wind down, music can help you feel more relaxed. Classical music can lower blood pressure, and if that isn't your vibe, your preferred tunes can do the trick as well!
Take a Warm Bath or Shower
A warm bath or shower can stimulate blood flow to the hands and feet, which could help speed up the body's heat escape.
Your body's internal temperature changes according to your 24-hour circadian cycle. As you get closer to sleeping, your body will start cooling itself down by expanding blood vessels. This process helps bring down the temperature of your core body, and a warm bath or shower can help speed it up.
Dr. Emil’s EZ Doze Vegan Sleep Aid
As a professional in the medical field, I have done the research to formulate these extra strength sleeping supplements. As a strong and fast-acting sleep support, these supplements will allow you to fall asleep more quickly and wake up feeling refreshed. They are formulated with proven ingredients like GABA and l-theanine as well!
Start the Path to Better Sleep Today
Sleep correlates with many of our everyday functions, and lack of sleep can cause more serious health problems down the road both physically and mentally. While there are certain stressors or conditions that make sleep more of a challenge, it’s never too late to pick up some healthier habits so we can improve our sleep overall!