When did you last have a really good night’s sleep?
Maybe it was a week ago or perhaps so long ago, you can’t even remember – either way, you’re not alone. The reason why so many of us are struggling to sleep at the moment is because Lockdown has been the perfect combination of issues to cause sleep deprivation.
Not being outdoors as much, not traveling to work which means we’re not getting up as early, spending more time at home – watching TV, on a laptop and mobile, with a lack of routine in general can all contribute to affecting sleep. Not to mention, the fact that most of us are stressed and anxious at the moment – there’s a lot at play here.
Sleep is essential for health, providing rest and restoration for mind and body. We must ensure we get the right amount of sleep, but also that our sleep has the right quality. In this blog post we explore ways to receive a better night’s sleep, looking into the science behind it, wind down routines and things to avoid.
So why do we have broken sleep, and how does it happen?
According to Very Well Health, there are two main types of sleep: “Non-rapid eye movement (NREM), also known as quiet sleep and Rapid eye movement (REM), also known as active sleep.” People who have disrupted sleep often have less deep sleep, because they don’t reach the latter stages of NREM so often – this is the hardest part of the sleep cycle to wake anyone up from.
Here are the four stages of sleep:
- Stage one – the initial drowsy period when you first start to fall asleep, which only lasts a few minutes
- Stage two – NREM, you are lightly asleep, becoming less aware of your surroundings
- Stage three – NREM, this is moderately deep sleep, muscles relax
- Stage four – REM, the deepest level of sleep, where EEG recordings show long frequency, delta waves called slow waves
“Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.” (Very Well Health)
Passing through these four stages of NREM sleep takes about an hour. The second part of the cycle is REM sleep. In REM sleep, brain wave recordings show similar electrical activity to being awake. During REM sleep you often have vivid dreams.
In general, young people spend more time in the deeper, heavier stages of sleep as they grow and develop. Older people spend less time in deep-sleep stages and are more likely to complain of being light sleepers.
There is no “normal” amount of sleep; what matters is how well, not how long you sleep. Still, most middle-aged people function best on seven to nine hours of sleep, while others need up to 11 hours.
Can exercise help you sleep?
Absolutely – Exercise actually has a chemical effect on the brain, says W. Christopher Winter, the president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine. “Physical activity creates more adenosine in the brain, and adenosine makes us feel sleepy, the harder we work out, the more driven we are by this chemical to sleep.”
Fun fact: Adenosine is the chemical that caffeine blocks to make you feel more alert.
Working out also helps you maintain your circadian rhythm (that is, your body’s internal clock). Winter says: “Exercise helps your body understand the schedule it’s on,” for example working out as part of your routine primes your body to sleep better at night.
7 ways to have a better nights sleep
We speak with Korin and Tiffany to find out their top tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Get outdoors. Korin and Tiffany both ensure they make the effort to leave the house for a walk or run. “Even if you don’t feel up for it, a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery will really help”, says Korin.
- Get moving. Doing a DPTV workout at home is the gift that keeps on giving: Not only can you grunt and grumble with only the judgmental gaze of your cat to deal with but they’re also a speedy and efficient way to sweat!
Here are a handful of Korin and Tiffany’s favourite classes to get you moving:
- Time to level up your home workouts with Tiffany’s Weekly Line up classes – Using a Pilates Reformer
- A class full of quick bursts of movement to fire you up with energy and endorphins with Korin’s Live Zoom mat class
- If you’re looking for a lightning quick and easy to follow HIIT-sesh, then look no further. HIIT me baby one more time – A Pilates Reformer class with Korin and Tiffany
- Or simply view all the DPTV HIIT Reformer classes here; ideal for busy schedules, the DPTV team uses high interval intensity training to really get your heart rate up and your body moving!
- Blue light exposure. Korin keeps her phone upstairs in the evenings so she is not connected to social media, messages and email. This allows Korin to have a break and switch off.
- Wind down before bedtime. Try not to listen to the news, take a bath, lower the lighting in your living room are just simple ways to wind down.
- Magnesium oil. Korin has been using BetterYou Magnesium Spray on the soles of feet before bed for a while now. This helps Korin have a better night’s sleep.
- Routine. We are creatures of habit so keep to your bedtime schedule.
- CBD. Tiffany says, “for me this is probably one of the most effective, non addictive ways to help with sleep. CBD is much better than taking a melatonin supplement which is proven to be addictive. If you take a melatonin supplement your body will stop producing its own. Instead CBD helps your body produce and absorb its own melatonin. CBD does not make you sleepy during the day because your body typically does not produce melatonin during the day.” Tiffany uses 600mg SDP Water Soluble 20oz Tincture. “That is my favorite product. My family produces this product so I know first hand it’s purity and it is the best you can buy.”
- Make sure you’re comfortable. Tiffany chooses Ettitude, sustainable Bamboo Lyocell sheets as they keep her cool while she sleeps.
If lifestyle factors are affecting your sleep quality and therefore your daily life, see if Korin and Tiffany’s tips can help your routine. If not, and if sleep is becoming a major issue, you can talk to your GP about possible treatments. Here’s to a more restful 2021!
L.Cherry, October 2019, four stages of sleep <https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920>
A.Mateo, May 2018, intimate relationship between fitness and sleep
Image By: Gregory Pappas