Posted by Roger Gilbert 494 Days Ago
Many people complain that they don't get enough sleep, or that they have poor quality sleep. This is something to take seriously because scientists now recognise that getting too little or poor quality sleep not only leaves us feeling tired during the day, but also has a negative effect on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Fortunately, recent studies have shown that it is possible to greatly improve our sleep - and dramatically improve the quality of our lives. We need to do two things:
A bit of background about sleep
Most people need about eight hours sleep per night. The amount of sleep we need reduces as we get older- college students needs about eight and a half hours sleep, but pensioners only seven.
During a good night’s sleep our bodies repeatedly go through a sleep cycle, each complete cycle lasting 90 - 110 minutes. The stages of the sleep cycle are as follows:
Stage 1: when we first nod off. The stage lasts five to ten minutes and is so light that if we wake up from it, we may not even realise that we have been asleep.
Stages 2-4: during which the activity of the brain slows down dramatically. Stages 3 and 4 are the deepest levels of sleep and it is often difficult to wake someone in stage 4.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep: so called because our eyes move rapidly from side to side behind our eyelids. In this stage, our brains are as active as when we are awake and this is probably when we do most of our dreaming. During REM sleep, many of our muscles are turned off, probably so that we cannot act out our dreams! This stage is about 25% of our total sleep.
This cycle is controlled by the body’s internal clock and by daylight - there are cells in our eyes which tell us to wake up when daylight comes, even when our eyes are closed.
If we wake during the cycle, we fall asleep again at stage 1, so if our sleep is disturbed during mid-cycle we will not get the benefit of the full cycle. On the other hand, if you get into a regular routine and wake at the same time every day, you will naturally wake in stage 1 and feel a lot more rested than if you wake in other stages.
Guidelines for tiptop sleep hygiene
Dealing with Anxieties and Stress
We have all experienced night frets: everything seems more disastrous in the night.
If your sleep is disturbed by anxieties, research published recently showed that one of the most effective ways of helping yourself to sleep better is simply to write down your anxieties and your plans for the following day before going to bed. Do this at least an hour before you go to bed.
Follow these guidelines, and you should soon notice an improvement in your sleep. If not, depending on the nature of your problem, book a session with someone who offers help in sleeping or anxiety or stress. I have found that hypnotherapy, NLP and Havening Techniques are very good for dealing with these issues, and I can offer sessions over Skype.
I specialise in helping people with anxiety and phobias, confidence building and smoking cessation using hypnotherapy, NLP and havening techniques.
I am based in Alwoodley, North Leeds, with easy access by car and public transport from the centre of Leeds. If you are travelling by car there is plenty of parking available.
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