THE SCIENCE OF SLEEPING: A Roadmap to Sleep Better Every Night.
If you want to learn how to sleep well, you’ve come to the right place.
This guide will take you through what you need to know to get more sleep. I’ll clarify the concept of sleep and how it functions, explore why many people suffer from sleep loss without understanding it, and provide useful suggestions for improved sleep and health.
Clear and easy, this guide ‘s aim is to illustrate how to sleep better. Click the links below to move to a new segment or just scroll down to read all. At the end of this tab, you’ll find a full list of all the articles I wrote on sleep.
I. Sleeping Science
How often you need sleep?
Sleep loss costs
Cumulative tension principle
Okay, yet will you get up?
II. How’s Night
The wake-up loop
Age-related shifts in sleep
2-Process Sleep Control Model
III. Sleep Well
How to sleep quick
Improving Sleep Consistency and Length
Normal Sleeping Patterns
I. The science behind sleeping
Sleep is the strangest activity we do every day. The typical adult sleeps 36 percent of his life. About one-third of our time on earth, we are engaged in sleep. From the colorful, , productive species we are throughout the day, we transcend into a peaceful state of hibernation at night .
What does staying awake mean exactly? Why is sleep so necessary for our bodies and minds? How does sleep influence our lives?
Sleep has many functions for the brain and body. Let’s break down the significant roles that sleep plays in our life.
Sleep’s primary aim is to heal the body. Your brain accumulates metabolic waste everyday as it conducts regular neuronal functions. Although this is perfectly natural, too much aggregation can lead to brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Ok, how can we get rid of metabolic waste?
The latest study has shown that sleep is essential to clean the brain every night. Although these contaminants can be washed out during daylight hours, researchers found that sleep clearance is twice as fast compared to waking hours.
How this mechanism takes place is very remarkable:
At sleep, brain cells actually reduce by 60%, helping the brain’s waste-removal system — called the glymphatic system — to “delete the garbage” more quickly. The outcome? During sleep, the memory is healed, and you wake up rested and clear-minded.
Sleep’s second objective is memory consolidation. Sleep is essential for consolidating consciousness. This is the mechanism that preserves and enhances your long-term memories. Insufficient or fragmented sleep will hamper both tangible memories (facts and figures) and emotional memories.
Finally, sleep is paramount to metabolism. Studies also found that if you sleep 5.5 hours a night instead of 8.5 hours a night, a smaller proportion of energy comes from fat, whereas more comes from starch and protein. This will predispose you to losing fat and muscle. Furthermore, inadequate sleep or irregular sleep patterns may contribute to insulin insensitivity and metabolic syndrome, raising the risk of diabetes and cardiac disease.
Thus, improved sleep is important to your mental and physical wellbeing.
However, before we venture too far into this sleep tutorial, let’s pause a second. If you like this post about the importance of sleep, you’ll possibly find my other success and human behaviour writing interesting. You can access them via my free email newsletter. I share self-improvement ideas focused on validated science studies.
How often do you need sleep? Okay, sleep is necessary, but how much sleep do you need? To answer that question, let’s consider an experiment by Pennsylvania University and Washington State University researchers.
Here’s what was observed :
Over the 14-day trial, the participants who were given a complete 8-hour sleep reported no memory problems. Moreover, there were no concentration lapses and decline in motor ability. Meanwhile ,the health of the classes earning 4 hours to 6 hours of sleep deteriorated gradually. The four-hour group did worse, but the six-hour group wasn’t any different. Particularly, there were two noteworthy findings.
Accumulated sleep debt
Sleep debt, the researchers conclude, “has a neurobiological effect that accumulates over time.” After a week, 25 percent of the six-hour part slept spontaneously during the day. The six-hour party had lower energy levels even two weeks later. The observed effects were the same as if they sat awake for two days straight. In short, it is safe to say that if you sleep 6 hours a night for two weeks straight, your emotional and physical health would drop to the same degree as if you had been up 48 hours straight.
Secondly, they didn’t realize the effects of sleep loss on their success. As the participants gave their feedback, they thought their success decreased for a couple days and then tapered off. In fact, every day they kept getting worse. In other terms, when we move through them, we’re bad observers of our own success. You could assume your success stays the same on low sleep rates, but it’s not. And even though you’re comfortable with your sleep-deprived results, you’re not working optimally.
The cost of sleep loss
The irony behind sleep loss is that several of us suffer from sleep loss in order to get our work done. However, the decline in efficiency ruins the possible gains that can be obtained through working longer hours.
Studies also reported that sleep loss costs companies over $100 BILLION per year in missed productivity.
Here’s a good example where sleep is so necessary.
Cumulative tension principle
Imagine your wellbeing and vitality as a water bucket. In your everyday life, you fill this bucket with various contents. Sleep is a big topic. Other important contents that are to be filled include diet, sleep, relaxation, laughter etc.
There are certain contents that reduce the bucket’s space. These include stress due to school or workplace, pressure, tension, anger, marital as well as other difficulties, and so on.
Naturally, the powers draining the bucket aren’t all harmful. To have a healthy existence, some of those things may have to pour out of your barrel. Working hard in the gym, college, or workplace helps you to generate some money. But still good outputs are always outputs, wasting the resources appropriately.
These combined outputs. Even a minor leak may trigger substantial water loss over time.
Hold the bucket completely filled and upright.
To hold your bucket fully filled, you have two choices.
Refill your bucket daily. That implies a resting and healing period.
Let the stress and other factors build and empty your container. When you enter zero, you may be forced to rest through accident and sickness.
Non-negotiable return. You should either relax and rejuvenate now or keep working. However, lack of rest can lead to illness and other problems.
Okay, yet will you get up?
Extra sleep will help compensate for the detrimental impact of poor sleep . New research showed that weekend sleep picking brought daytime sleepiness and inflammation rate back to baseline. even so, cognitive output was NOT rebounded.
What does it mean? If throughout the week, you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t rely on weekends catch-up sleep to regain concentration and energy. The best way to maintain these success metrics is to ensure you get enough nightly sleep.
Does that suggest you shouldn’t even attempt to catch up on sleep? No. No. Deprived of sleep, you can probably strive to get some additional sleep. Although the safest thing to do for both immediate and long-term results is to seek sleep every night — not only weekends.
How Sleep Works:
Period of Sleep-Wake
Your sleep quality is calculated by a sleep-wake cycle phase.
Sleep-wake cycle has two essential parts:
 Slow wave sleep (so-called deep sleep)
 REM sleep (REM Rapid Eye Movement)
Let us consider deep sleep. In this case, breathing becomes more normal. The blood pressure gradually decreases. Moreover the brain becomes less sensitive to external stimulation. This ultimately makes it harder to wake up. This process is important for body renewal and reconstruction. The pituitary gland produces growth hormone during slow wave sleep, promoting tissue development and muscle recovery. Researchers also conclude this stage can restore the body’s immune system. Slow wave sleep is important if you’re an athlete. You’ll also learn about celebrities like Roger Federer or LeBron James sleeping 11 to 12 hours a night.
Consider a report researchers performed on Stanford basketball players as an indication of sleep’s effect on physical health. During this analysis, players slept at least 10 hours each night (compared to their average 8 hours). The researchers assessed basketball players’ performance and pace over their previous averages after five weeks of prolonged sleep. Free firing percentage improved 9%. Three-point shot rate rose by 9.2%. And the players sprinted 80 metres quicker 0.6 seconds. By putting strong physical demands on the body, slow wave sleep lets you heal.
REM sleep is what slow wave sleep the body is. For most sleep periods, the brain is quite still, yet the brain comes alive for REM. REM sleep is when your brain thinks, reorganising knowledge. During this process, your brain cleans away obsolete knowledge, improves your memory by comparing past 24-hour interactions with previous memories, and encourages learning and neural development. Your body temperature rises, blood pressure raises, and heart rate increases. Despite all this, the body barely shifts. The REM process usually happens in brief bursts of 3-5 times each night.
Without slow wave sleep and REM sleep, the body actually continues to die. When you sleep low, you can’t heal completely, your immune system weakens, and your memory becomes foggy. Or, as the researchers described it, sleep-deprived people are at higher risk of infectious illnesses, weight gain, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, cardiac failure, psychiatric disorder, and death.
To summarize : slow wave sleep helps physically heal and REM sleep helps you heal emotionally. The amount of time you spend in these periods continues to decline with age, which suggests your sleep quality and your body’s capacity to heal both decline with age.
Age-related shifts in sleep
The body is remarkably adept at compensating for a short-term loss of sleep. Indeed, even though you got a brutal 2 or 4-hour sleep last night, your body will fully recover if you get a good 9 or 10-hour sleep tonight. Simply allocate some time in REM and slow wave sleep periods for the second night to order make up for the first. In other words, the two major sleep periods are primarily determined by the volume and form of sleep you had last night.
No need to think about improving your REM or slow wave night. Your body is smarter than you are and you can’t always push yourself to get more REM sleep during a single sleep session. This is because it allows changes dependent on past sleep cycles. Just make sure you have enough sleep and let your body do the rest. This is especially relevant since the proportion of time spent in REM and slow wave sleep declines when you grow older. For example, a 60-year-old needs to sleep for 10 hours to get the same REM sleep a 20-year-old can get in 7 hours. To put it simply, sleeping has no alternative.
Naturally, this healing period has a cap. Your body can try its maximum, but will never be able to transform a shortage into a surplus. If you want to heal from a tired night, follow that with more sleep than normal.
What governs the sleep-wake cycle?
The solution is circadian rhythm. The circadian period is a biochemical sequence with various processes that happens over about 24 hours. There are several important points in the standard 24-hour cycle:
[6 Midnight] – Cortisol amounts to wake the brain and body
[7:00 A.M.] – Development prevents melatonin
[9 Midnight] – . Development peaks in sex hormones
[10 Throughout the morning] – Cognitive alertness peaks
[14:30 P.M. ] -Strong engine synchronization
[3.30 P.M.] – Fastest response
[5:00 p.m.] – Best cardiovascular performance, muscle strength
[7:00 p.m.] – Best blood pressure and temperature
[9:00 p.m.] – Melatonin continues preparing the body for sleep
[10:00 p.m.] – Bowel expression blocked as the body quiets
[2 Midnight] – . Deep sleep
[Four A.M] -. Lowest temperature
Obviously, these times aren’t precise and actually represent the circadian rhythm pattern. Your circadian rhythm ‘s precise cycles can differ depending on weather, behaviors, and other influences.
Three primary variables influence circadian rhythm: the sun, time, and melatonin.
Sunlight potentially the circadian rhythm ‘s biggest tempo setter. Starting for 30 minutes in a bright light will also reset the circadian rhythm regardless of the time of day. More generally, eye-striking sunrise and light cause the shift to a new period.
Whether it’s day or night, your regular routine, and the order in which you execute activities will all influence the sleep-wake cycle.
This hormone induces drowsiness and regulates body temperature. Melatonin is released at a consistent daily pace, growing after dark and declining before dawn. Researchers suggest the duration of melatonin development helps maintain the sleep-wake cycle on track.
Process Sleep Control Model
In 1982, Dr. Alexander Borbely published an essay in the journal Human Neurobiology, explaining what he termed as sleep regulation’s 2-process model. This computational sleep system defines two parallel mechanisms to control sleep and wake cycles.
Phase 1 is sleeping light. Sleep intensity increases from the point you wake up until the time you go to sleep. When resting, pressure reduces. If you get a night’s sleep, you start the next day with low sleep pressure.
Process 2 is wake drive that counteracts sleep pressure and is driven by a 24-hour rhythm repeated in a wave pattern.
Understanding this mechanism is important because it illustrates an important observation regarding sleep in our modern world that I heard from sleep scientist Dan Pardi :
For millions of years, humans and our descendants have adapted to sleep at night (when dark) and wake up during daytime (when light). However, we operate within urban environment every day. We thrive in places that are colder than outside environment. This is largely due to fans and air conditioners We gaze at vivid smartphones and televisions at night. Low light through the day, more illumination at night. What is happening here is the reverse of generally occurring patterns. Hence, this has a high chance of messing up our wake-up time and circadian rhythm.
This shift’s result?
Drowsiness and daytime reduced activity. In just a minute, we’re going to chat all about how to sleep easier, including actionable actions you should take to strengthen your pace, but that’s about it. Use common-sense light routines. Get daytime outside light viewing, switch off the lamps. Refrain from excessive usage of smartphones and other devices during night time.
Where Do I Sleep?
Does it matter whether you have the recommended 8 hours of sleep?
As stated by Walker, REM to non-REM sleep ratio varies over night, with non-REM sleep dominating periods early in the night and REM sleep kicking closer to sunrise. That means a late night can result in inadequate heavy, non-REM sleep. As mentioned earlier, having healthy quantities of REM and non-REM sleep is important.
Till Roenneberg, a chronobiology professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich who studies the biological origins of sleep, says each individual has a specific internal timing profile called a sleep chronotype that dictates where we fall on the scale from “early bird” to “night owl.” Your chronotype ‘s mainly inherited.
Try not to battle your physiology while selecting bedtime. For all, the ideal bedtime can vary somewhat, so it’s important that you pay careful attention to your inner clock and what your body tells you. As long as you have the recommended 8-hour sleep, just concentrate on discovering the right period for you.
How to Improve Sleep?
Establish routine “power-stoppage” before bed. Computer screens, televisions, and phones may inhibit the development of melatonin, meaning your body is not preparing the hormones it needs to reach the sleep process. Specifically, the blue wavelength of light tends to decrease melatonin output. Developing a “power off” schedule that will help you switch off all appliances an hour or two before sleep. Additionally, operating late at night will leave the mind going and tension levels strong, and often keeps the body from resting. Switch off computers, instead, read a novel. It’s the best place to practise anything important before bed. (Another alternative is to download a f.lux software, which decreases the screen’s brightness closer to bedtime.)
Using calming methods.
Researchers conclude that at least 50% of insomnia cases are mental or stress-related. Reducing depressions can help in attaining improved sleep. There are many well established approaches to reduce depressions. These include regular journaling, breathing techniques, reflection, yoga, and maintaining a personal journal . Make use of this journal to write down something you’re happy about on a daily basis.
Improving Sleep Consistency and Length
If you want to know how to sleep easier, there are 3 levers you can “pull” to give yourself a lift.
Strength applies to the sleep cycle. The amount of time you invest in slow wave sleep and REM sleep defines the standard of your night time sleep.
Timing implies the time at which an individual starts resting. What time are you going to bed? This is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, if you go to bed every night at the same hour, establishing healthy sleep patterns is better on your body. Second, you can sleep according to your circadian clock.
Period applies to the night. Per night, how much time do you spend sleeping. The amount of time spent sleeping per night is very important. Adequate amount of sleep is required each night.
How to sleep easier with these 3 levers?
As for strength, the fact is that you can’t do anything. Your body controls your period of sleep (how much time you invest in slow wave sleep and REM sleep) for you. It varies dynamically depending on what you need and how long you’re sleeping. Consistent exercise, good diet and leading a healthy lifestyle can help. However, these acts only implicitly increase sleep intensity.
That’s nice news because it simplifies life for you. Since your body controls your own sleep rate, you just need to rely on two factors: pacing (when you go to bed) and length (how long you’re in bed).
If we make another observation, we will further complicate the case. The presumption is: every day you wake up at around the same time.
If you wake up at around the same time per day, the sleep period is essentially decided by going to bed. Typically, if you go to bed early, you’ll end up getting better. Improve pacing, and also improve length.
This takes us to this realistic punchline :
From an implementation viewpoint, timing is probably the most critical of the 3 sleep levers. Your body regulates your sleep strength automatically. The amount of your sleep depends mostly on falling into bed (assuming you get up at the same time and morning). And that implies going to bed early, a more reliable period is key to increasing the sleep consistency and length.
Steps to attain normal Sleeping Patterns
Next, let’s speak about sleeping better by harnessing the strength of some easy, everyday routines.
Go outside. Obtain at least 30 minutes of sun treatment everyday.
Moreover, follow the natural sleep aids.
Fitness. So many reasons to fitness to list them all here. At night, exercising will make things simpler for the brain and body to power down. Moreover, obesity will harm your sleep habits. The importance of exercise only increases with age. Middle-aged people sleep slightly more than their counterparts. One caveat: stop exercise two to three hours before bedtime as mental and physical stress will wire the nervous system, finding it impossible to settle down at night.
Temperature. Most people sleep in a cool bed. The optimal range is normally 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 degrees Celsius).
Tone and room ambience
A comfortable sleeping room is essential. If it’s hard to get peace and calm, consider managing the noise in the bedroom by making “white noise” with a fan. Or, use earplugs (a decent pair).
Alcohol usage is a slippery slope. Although finding it easier to fall asleep, it also decreases the sleep quality and slows the REM period. But you fall asleep quicker, however you can wake up without sleeping. It’s possibly better to boost your sleep before resorting to drinking to do the work.
The concepts in this essay provide a number of ways to attain healthier sleep.
You owe healthier sleep patterns to yourself. Your body and mind deserves only the very best.