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How to fall into good-quality sleep faster

Follow the rules of sleep hygiene and find out how to fall asleep faster and get good-quality sleep.

Sleep is essential for the body’s recovery. What happens to our body during the night? And how does losing weight relate to the quality of sleep? Find out how to fall asleep faster thanks to the sleep hygiene rules.

Sleep stages: NON REM and REM

There are different types of sleep stages. During the night, NON REM and REM stages, which differ greatly, alternate several times.

Non REM stage (non rapid eye movement)

  • No rapid eye movements occur.
  • It accounts for 75–80% of total sleep time.
  • Dreams occur only exceptionally in this sleep stage.
  • The body regenerates during this stage.
  • It is divided into 4 sub-stages:
    • NREM1 – transition period from being awake to falling asleep, twitching may occur;
    • NREM2 – this stage accounts for 45–55% of the total sleep time;
    • NREM3 and NREM4 – the deepest stages of sleep, sometimes nightmares may occur.

REM stage (rapid eye movement)

  • Is characterised by rapid eye movement under closed eyelids.
  • It is sometimes called paradoxical sleep. Brain activity in this phase is more similar to activity during wakefulness.
  • It accounts for about 20–25% of the total sleep time.
  • The REM stage repeats several times during the night.
  • Most of our interesting dreams occur during this stage.
  • The muscles are paralyzed, protecting us from unconscious movements that might not always be safe.

Sleep and weight loss. How are they related?

Diet, exercise and sleep are essential factors that affect not only our body weight, but overall health.

KetoDiet nutritional consultant and product specialist describes how good-quality sleep relates to successful weight loss.

Nutritional specialist Jiří Skála says: “In general, people today have significantly reduced the length of sleep. It has been found that if a person sleeps less than 6 hours a day (chronic sleep deprivation) it carries with it a large number of health complications, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, etc.

Lack of sleep disrupts the activity of hormones ghrelin and leptin, which are responsible for regulating food intake. Therefore, we are hungry more often. As a result, we increase our caloric intake, develop poor eating habits and gain weight.

Another hormone that plays a vital role in this is cortisol. Sleep deprivation induces a state similar to the stress response, when sympathetic nervous system is activated. The result is elevated blood pressure and increased cortisol levels, which in the long term contribute to insulin resistance, fat production and reduced leptin function.”

Jirka says: “Increased fatigue after insufficient sleep reduces daily physical activity and contributes to the consummation of energy-dense foods. This puts us into an energy surplus, which again results in gaining weight.”

If you sleep less than 6 hours a day, you can cause yourself a number of health complications including obesity.

What else happens during sleep?

  • Blood pressure decreases.
  • Breathing and heart rate slow down.
  • Growth hormone is released, which makes muscles recover better.
  • Immune system strengthens, which can help us to fight disease better.

The Ten Commandments of sleep hygiene

Oven-baked salmon with slices of zucchini and yoghurt dip is a great option for a light, filling dinner.

  1. Books, food and television are forbidden! The bedroom should be used exclusively for sleep (and sexual activity).
  2. Go to bed only when you feel sleepy. Experts say sleep should last on average 7 hours.
  3. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day (ideally including weekends).
  4. Get proper darkness and air the bedroom before going to bed. A good temperature for sleeping is around 18°C.
  5. Do not drink coffee, black and green tea or another drink containing caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime.
  6. Do not drink alcohol before going to bed. It may seem to make you sleep better, but it is not good-quality sleep and you will feel tired during the day.
  7. Be careful what you eat before falling asleep. It shouldn’t be anything high in fast sugars, nothing heavy but nothing “hungry” either. Here are some tips for light dinners that will fill you up:
  8. If you can’t fall asleep for a long time, it is better to get up and start reading for a while, for example.
  9. Be active during the day, but avoid sporting activities before bedtime.
  10. Stress does not belong in the bedroom. Tick off all tasks you must do and go to bed with a clear head.

If unpleasant thoughts haunt you in bed, try one trick: Instead of counting sheep think of a movie for every letter in the alphabet (from The Avengers to Zulu). Believe me, it’s quite a feat. It is just better to fall asleep.

Did you know …?

  • We spend up to ⅓ of our lives sleeping.
  • Newborns sleep approximately 14–17 hours a day.
  • Sleepwalkers are most often children. In adulthood, this problem diminishes.
  • The need for and length of sleep decreases with age.
  • Short nap after lunch (“forty winks”) reduces fatigue and increases productivity. But it should not last too long, 10–20 minutes is just right.

5 herbs for a restful sleep

Lemon balm tea will help you fall asleep faster. You can also make it for children.

Lemon balm in addition to soothing insomnia problems helps with headache and calms an upset stomach. You can make lemon balm tea for children as well. If you plant it in your garden, expect it to grow abundantly.

Valerian shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and combats migraines and mental tension.

Chamomile helps you fall asleep, supresses nausea and heartburn.

Breckland thyme induces psychological well-being (acts as a natural antidepressant).

Lavender smells wonderful. Enjoy a bath with lavender oil before going to bed or put a lavender pillow under your pillow.

Problems with falling asleep

Long-term problems with falling asleep and poor quality of sleep are related to neurology. If these problems bother you in the long-term visit some of the sleep-wake disorders centres. They focus on diagnosis, treatment and research of sleep disorders. They deal with

  • general sleep disorders,
  • sleep-disordered breathing (most famously sleep apnoea),
  • narcolepsy or excessive sleepiness,
  • sleep movement disorders (e.g. restless legs syndrome),
  • sleepwalking.

Author: Tereza Břízová

Photo: Tereza Břízová, KetoDiet, Unsplash

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