Studies Reveal Fascinating Information About the Purpose of Sleep
All of us sleep. As an adult, you will probably spend 36% of your life asleep, and yet we are only just beginning to understand what happens when we sleep.
You probably already have some idea of what can happen if you go without sleep for a long time, but what actually happens in the body when we are asleep? By looking into the results of scientific sleep studies, you can understand more about why we really need sleep, and learn some useful tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
Why We Need Sleep?
Sleep is a resting and restorative process for the body. Whilst you are asleep, your body removes toxins that have built up in the brain due to normal metabolic processes during waking hours.
Sleep also enables your brain to store and consolidate long-term memories. This helps you to retain whatever information you learnt that day, for later use.
While scientists do not understand exactly what is happening in our brains and bodies while we are asleep, it is clear that getting enough sleep is vital for both mental and physical health.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to medical conditions including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Going without sleep for a mere 24 hours has been shown to reduce levels of concentration and memory, and can even trigger hallucinations.
A long-term sleep study found that participants who slept 5 hours a night or less increased their mortality rate to 1.7x that of those who slept 7 hours a night.
Habits that can help you improve the quality and quantity of your sleep
1. Maintaining your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle
Restoring your body’s natural circadian rhythm is one of the most important steps to improve the quality of your sleep. Try to go bed at the same time each day and wake up at the same time. Routine and consistency helps your circadian rhythm., Additionally, exposing yourself to more natural light can also help keep your circadian rhythm stay healthy. If daily natural light exposure is impractical you can also invest in artificial bright-light device or bulbs.
2. Make your bedroom sleep-friendly
Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. A dark, cool and quiet room is the best environment for sleeping. You may need to invest in block out blinds to keep it dark. Remove all technology from your room, including your phone and clock radio. If external noise disrupts your sleep, then use a fan as background white noise.
Things to Avoid for a Restful Night’s Sleep
If you want to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep, it is important to be mindful of factors that can have a negative impact on your sleep. Avoid the following;
Caffeine – caffeine can prevent you becoming drowsy and play havoc with your sleep pattern.. Drink caffeinated beverages before noon, so your body has time to process the caffeine before bedtime. If you suffer from insomnia, then you should avoid caffeine entirely.
Blue light – blue light, or the light produced by electronic screens, is known to interfere with circadian rhythms and affect the body’s production of the hormone melatonin. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Turn off all electronics three hours before bed, or use an app like f.lux to reduce the levels of blue light emitted from your devices.
Alcohol – many people think that alcohol makes them sleepy, but, while you may fall asleep faster, alcohol impair the quality of your sleep.
Stress – soothing the body and calming the mind before you go to bed will help you to fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful sleep. Develop a relaxing bedtime schedule such as taking a warm bath, deep breathing exercises, dimming the lights or listening to soft music.