Today is World Sleep Day! 

Sleep is important! 

Sleep is not a luxury but a need! World Sleep Day raises awareness of the value and necessity of good quality sleep.

It is all about the perfect amount of quality uninterrupted deep sleep!

Sleep is an important pillar of health, and the quality of your sleep can impact not just your physical energy in the morning but your mental and emotional health, too.

If you are getting the recommended amount of slumber, 7-9 hours per night,  you’re spending about one-third of your life asleep. Although that may seem like a lot of time, your mind and body are very busy during that time, so that you can be productive, energetic, and healthy when you’re awake.

There are five stages of sleep that rotate between non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) and include drowsiness, light sleep, moderate to deep sleep, deepest sleep, and dreaming.

The stages of sleep

Stages 1-2, and REM consist of light sleep, while 3 and 4 comprise deep sleep.

Stage 1

During stage 1, you drift from being awake to being asleep. This is a light, NREM sleep that doesn’t last very long. You may start to relax and dream, but may also twitch as you transition into stage 2.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the sleep cycle is still a light sleep, but you are drifting into a steadier sleep. Your breathing and heartbeat slow down, and your muscles relax. Your body temperature decreases, and your brain waves are less active.

Stages 3 and 4

In stage 3, you enter deep sleep, and stage 4 is the deepest sleep stage. During deep sleep, your breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, and brain waves reach their lowest levels. Your muscles are extremely relaxed, and you are most difficult to rouse.

Stage 4 is known as the healing stage, when tissue growth and repair take place, important hormones are released to do their jobs, and cellular energy is restored.

During deep sleep, a variety of functions take place in the mind and body:

  • memories are consolidated
  • learning and emotions process
  • physical recovery occurs
  • blood sugar levels and metabolism balance out
  • the immune system is energized
  • the brain detoxifies

Without deep sleep, these functions cannot take place and the symptoms of sleep deprivation kick in.

REM sleep

Your first REM cycle of the night begins about 90 minutes after you fall asleep and recurs every 90 minutes. Your eyes move around quickly behind your eyelids and your brainwaves look similar to those of someone who is awake. Your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure rise to near-waking levels.

REM sleep, often referred to as stage 5, is when you are most likely to dream. Your arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed during this stage to prevent you from physically acting out your dreams.

While stages 1 to 4 and REM sleep are all important, deep sleep is the most essential of all for feeling rested and staying healthy. The average healthy adult gets roughly 1 to 2 hours of deep sleep per 8 hours of nightly sleep.

How to increase deep sleep

If you sleep 8 hours but toss and turn all night, you may not be getting enough deep sleep.

It’s impossible to force your brain to go into deep sleep, but there are a number of strategies that may help. These include:

  • Reduce stress
  • Establish sleep rituals and routines, ie a warm bath, breathing exercises, light reading, no electronics, etc
  • Sleep in a dark room or use an eye mask
  • Sleep in a cool room
  • Exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Listen to white or pink noise
  • Meditation
  • Brain entrainment (Brain wave entrainment refers to a method of getting brain waves to sync with a specific stimulus. This stimulus is typically an audio or visual pattern. Brain wave entrainment techniques, such as the use of isochronic tones, are being studied as a potential therapy for a variety of health issues)

Although the science is still new, a number of sleep trackers are available that may help you track your sleep patterns and see how much light, REM, and deep sleep you are getting.

How to Celebrate World Sleep Day

  1. Take a Nap.
  2. Download the TLC-Z+ Care Program for practical tips on getting quality sleep.
  3. Download a Sleep App.
  4. Participate in a Sleep Awareness Event.
  5. Buy a New Mattress.
  6. Talk to a Sleep Professional.

Sleep tight!