To kick off the sleep series we thought it would be beneficial to take a look at some sleeping statistics and looking a bit into the science of sleeping. Knowing this will allow us to take some considerable and immediate effects into improving our sleep quality.
Some stats taken from the Sleep Council site who took a 2013 survey on sleep found:
- 70% of the population get less than 7 hours sleep a night (we should be getting between 7 and 8)
- Average bedtime is 11:15pm
- 1/2 of Britons say that stress/worry keeps them up at night
- Recent research suggests increase in exercise could improve sleep quality
- 1 in 5 says replacing their bed would improve sleep
- 4 in 10 say they feel more positive from a night’s sleep, 1/3 felt happy and almost 1/4 felt productive
Sleeping is quite mysterious, to this day it still baffles scientists and sleep specialists everywhere. Although they feel there is still a long way to go, through extensive research over time, they’ve deduced a fair amount. Like, did you know that we have sleep cycles?
A sleep cycle is broken down into 4 stages, starting with non-rapid eye movement which consists of 3 of the 4 stages. There is NREM1, 2 (1 and 2 are perceived light where you could be easily roused) and 3 (if disturbed during this stage could wake very disorientated) with each stage getting progressively ‘deeper’. After completing the NREM stages we move into the rapid eye movement stage (REM/Stage 4) where the brain in a similar state to drowsiness (Sleep Council). It takes a total of 90 minutes to complete this cycle. In order to have a good night’s sleep it’s recommended to complete 5-6 cycles and in order to feel rested on waking, waking up at the end of stage 4 will prove maximum benefit.
So, try this. When it comes to setting your alarm in the morning consider when it is you need to wake up and instead of being focused on the time it is you need to get up, work out what time you need to go to bed to get the most benefit (allow a little extra time to get settled), after all your alarm has taken care of when you need to be up. For example. If you want to get up at 7:30am and you want a good night’s sleep where you’ll feel rested (e.g. 5 cycles which will give you 7.5 hours sleep), you’ll need to be asleep by midnight.
Something to bear in mind! There is actually an optimum time in which to be asleep. Our body, much like the earth, has a complete cycle of 24 hours. Because of these ingrained patterns developed through evolution and the bodies mechanical processes (such as releasing of hormones etc.) the deepest and most regenerative process of sleep takes place during the hours of 10pm and 2am where our bodies are peaked for the optimal time for repair (DR Oz’s). As such, if you miss this crucial phase, you’re still likely to wake up feeling fatigued even if you had 5-6 complete cycles. It is also the first 4 hours of sleep/2 complete cycles where we get the most benefit of sleep as each stage is longer and more extensive. If we are to coincide the optimum number of sleep cycles, in particular the first two complete cycles, with this peak in regeneration it will have an instant and massively positive impact on our wellbeing, productivity and ultimately our happiness.
Did you know? It’s also between the hours of 12-1am is when the fastest rate of skin-cell renewal occurs, meaning if we miss it/we’re not getting to bed in time to get to this sleep phase or we find our sleep interrupted, this can have a vastly negative impact on the appearance of our skin.