Sleep is a crucial aspect of our daily lives, yet many of us often overlook its importance. Learn how to get sleep better and improve your overall health & wellbeing.
Did you know that the average sleep time of an elite athlete is only 6.3 hours? This may not be enough for optimal performance and recovery, and there is growing evidence to support this. Here are some things you need to know:
What Happens When We Sleep?
When we sleep, our body prioritizes physical repair before brain repair. This means that our bodies receive the big physical gains only in deep REM cycles, which occur in the first 1-4 hours of sleep. It is important to maximize sleep quality to ensure that we reach these deep REM cycles to prepare for the next day's activities. Afterward, our bodies drift in and out of deep sleep, which assists in brain repair. It is during this time that we dream, and we only remember a dream if we wake up during it.
The Importance of Deep REM Cycles
Deep REM cycles are crucial for our bodies to repair themselves, especially for athletes who require optimal physical performance. In deep REM cycles, the body undergoes physical repair that is essential for athletes to perform at their best.
The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Cognitive Function
If we do not get enough sleep, our cognitive function may decline, and our bodies may not repair properly. A clinical trial with sleep-deprived athletes found that physically, they were okay, but cognitively, they performed significantly worse. This can impact everyone, especially those who need to make quick decisions, rely on reaction speed, and call upon deep thinking.
How Much Sleep Do We Need?
It is recommended that we aim for 9-10 hours of sleep per night. Sleep cycles are around 90 minutes, but it takes 30 minutes to get into deep sleep. It is essential to note that we have to be asleep, not just lying there with our eyes closed, to reap the benefits we have discussed. Naps are useful, but only to top up the total amount of sleep. It is best to keep your wake-up time within half an hour each day.
Tips to Sleep Better
To maximize the quality of your sleep and essentially sleep better, try to develop a routine by setting a similar bedtime and wake-up time each day. Develop pre-sleep habits such as writing down your to-do list or pressing thoughts for the next day on a notepad and not storing it in the bedroom. Consider using guided meditation to help you relax and wind down before sleep. A warm shower before bed can also help vasodilate your blood vessels, which improves your sleep. The ideal temperature to set your aircon is 18 degrees Celsius. Turn the lights down or off an hour before sleep, use candles or glowing lamps, and steer clear of mobile phones and TVs during this time. Ensure that the room is completely dark and quiet, with no pets, blackout curtains, and phones on sleep mode. Avoid alcohol and caffeine from midday, as these can decrease the quality of your sleep. Lastly, do not hydrate too much before bed to avoid any midnight bathroom runs.
In conclusion, sleep is critical to our overall health and wellbeing. By maximizing the quality of our sleep, we can ensure that our bodies and brains repair properly, and we wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. It's time to work on your sleep hygiene and improve your slumber!