A Guide To The Science Of Sleep & How You Can Maximize Your Zzz’s

Stages of Sleep

A Guide to the Science of Sleep & How You Can Maximize Your Zzz’s — Image by xiangying_xu via Pixabay

You know the feeling—you had a restless night followed by an early morning, and no amount of coffee can help stop you from dragging yourself through the day. That night you go to bed early, sleep straight through the night and bound out of bed with renewed vigor. We all know sleep is essential, but have you stopped to think about the science of sleep?

What Is Sleep Anyway?


While you’re awake, your brain produces the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine—these keep us alert while we’re awake. Those days when you feel like you’re dragging 20 pounds of rocks behind you probably indicates a dip in those neurotransmitters.

Your brain also produces neurons signaling your body to switch off the chemicals keeping you awake. All of this happens as part of your natural circadian rhythm. This is the 24-hour pattern your body follows to signal it’s time to sleep. This pattern is influenced partly by your environment like if it’s light or dark, loud or quiet or stimulating or calm.

Stages of Sleep


You ever watch somebody sleep—not all night, that’s weird—but just for a minute and notice how peaceful they look? Well, there’s a lot going on under those closed lids. There are several stages of sleep happening every night. There are two main phases of sleep—REM and non-REM.

Non-REM sleep comes in stages and gently slows down your heart rate, breathing rate and lowers your temperature—all designed to keep you asleep. If these stages don’t get interrupted, you drift into the most active stage of sleep—REM.

REM or rapid eye movement makes up one-quarter of our overall sleep. REM is marked by vigorous brain activity because the brain is consolidating and categorizing information it took in throughout your day and processing memories. This is why you’re tired after a highly stimulating day with a lot of new information being thrown at you—your brain has a lot of processing to do.

What Happens during These Stages of Sleep?


Well, that’s a great question and a big area in the study of the science of sleep. The brain is still a mystery in a lot of ways. What happens when we sleep has been studied and theorized about for decades. We know REM sleep is when your most vivid dreams occur possibly because your brain is dealing with emotions you didn’t address during your daily, waking life.

You cycle through the 5 stages of sleep—4 of them non-REM and 1 REM—every 90-110 minutes. So, what are these cycles all about?

Stage 1 (1-7 Minutes)

This is your half-awake, half-asleep state. Your eyelids are heavy, and you start to drift off but then the dog barks, and you wake up. This is the equivalent of dipping your toe in the pool—having one potato chip—you’re going to cave. This cycle repeats itself all night so you will be easily awoken a few times a night.

Stage 2 (8-25 Minutes)

This is called light sleep. Your brain activity is slowing and, while you’re still awoken fairly easily, you’re farther gone than when you’re first drooping your head at your desk.

Stage 3 (25-40 Minutes)

Ok, you’re really in the thick of things. You’re harder to wake up, and your brain waves slow even more. Your brain is now producing delta waves which help you drift into an even deeper sleep.

Stage 4 (20-40 Minutes)

Some doctors don’t believe stages 3 and 4 are separate. Stage 4 could be the latter part of the third stage, but it’s known as deep sleep. This is when you are hardest to wake up, you’re producing lots of delta waves, your muscles relax and your breathing and heart rate slow.

Stage 5/REM (10-60 Minutes)

Your brain is perking up now, and electrical activity picks up the pace. You may be in a vivid dream. Your muscles are temporarily paralysed—weird, right—and your eyes are darting back and forth.

So Why Is Sleep So Important?


Now you know what sleep is but why is it so important? Why is a lack of sleep almost debilitating and a good night’s sleep rejuvenating? We’re discussing the science of sleep, and so there’s science to the need for slumber.

Immune System


Remember the last time you had the flu or felt you were coming down with something? Your body needs sleep to repair itself. When you sleep, your body makes a specific protein—cytokines—to attack whatever is making you feel awful. Go to bed when you’re sick—not to work, or the bar. These little buggers increase when you’re stressed too, so you have to sleep.

They run through your body all night attacking viruses and battling inflammation. There are studies showing people who got eight hours of sleep had better results with the influenza vaccination.

Chronic lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It’s better to nip sleep issues in the bud early, so you don’t set yourself up with more serious health issues.

Your Mind


Your mind functions best when it’s had a good amount of sleep. Researchers conclude your brain processes all the information it received during the day and stores it as memory. If you feel you’re not thinking clearly, try hitting the hay—your brain has had so much information it needs you to shut down so it can go to work.

This is why babies spend so much of their time sleeping. Everything is new to them, and they need a lot of time to process it all. Imagine trying to understand walls, carpeting, dogs and strange people speaking a foreign language to you all day—you’d need a nap or two.

There was a study where a group of teenagers was given information at 9 am and were tested on that information at 9 pm. They did 20% worse than another group who got the information at 9 pm, slept on it and took the test at 9 am. Sleep makes you sharper, healthier and happier.

Your Sleep on a Timer


Each person’s circadian rhythm—or internal clock—is different and part of the science of sleep. Some people only need five hours of sleep while others need nine because their internal clocks are different. This internal clock is controlled by a part of the brain that responds and is sensitive to light.

If you’re sleepy, you need to sleep—even a nap will rejuvenate your mind and body. You can alter your sleep clock by sticking to a new sleep routine, for instance, when you change your work schedule and switch to a different but reliable new schedule. When you sleep in on a Sunday, you may throw your own clock off. Here’s how to keep your timer on an even keel:

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule—you’ll have off nights, but if you can keep a sleep routine 90% of the time, you’ll help yourself big time
  • Get outside in the morning—going for a walk, having coffee in the sun, throwing a ball for your dog—all will expose you to bright sunlight and let your brain know it’s time to wake up
  • Shut that thing down—it’s nighttime, and you’re relaxing with your smartphone or tablet. Well, what you’re really doing is telling your brain it’s still daylight—shut it down

So How Much Sleep Is Enough?


Well, isn’t this the magic question? Luckily, there’s an entire institute dedicated only to sleep. They’re the ones who set the 8-hour standard decades ago, but their research has updated that number.

How much sleep you require depends on quite a few factors:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Recent lifestyle changes
  • Stress
  • A recent impact to the body—running a marathon or breaking a bone—same thing to us
  • Do you need caffeine to get you through the day?
  • When you’re driving do you immediately feel sleepy?

The National Sleep Institute has broken down sleep needs by age. This is important to cross-reference if you feel you’re not getting enough or are getting too much and still don’t feel awake.


  •    Newborns (0-3 months)—14-17 hours per day
  •    Infants (4-11 months)—12-15 hours
  •    Toddlers (1-2 years)—11-14 hours
  •    Preschoolers (3-5 years)—10-13 hours
  •    School-age children (6-13 years)—9-11 hours
  •    Teenagers (14-17 years)—8-10 hours
  •    Adults (18 to 64 years)—7-9 hours
  •    Older adults (65+)—7-8 hours

Quality of Sleep


Ah, yes. The unicorn of the science of sleep—good quality. If you don’t feel rested in the morning and you’ve slept long enough, it’s probably your sleep quality. But how do you know for sure? Well, there’s actually a definition for good quality sleep:

  • Spending 85% of your time in bed sleeping—total time asleep minus checking your phone, watching tv, reading and just plain waiting to fall asleep
  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or fewer
  • Waking up only one time per night
  • Falling back to sleep in 20 minutes or fewer when or if you do wake up

In this case, quality and quantity are equally important.

How to Improve Sleep Quality


If you’ve ticked off that you’re getting enough time in the sack, but you still aren’t feeling rested, it’s probably time to look at the quality of the sleep you’re getting. We’ve got some tried-and-true ways for you to tweak your sleep routines to move those z’s into the quality category.

Daylight during the Day

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Get more light during the day—remember that internal clock we talked about? It needs light during the day to transition at night. If you spend all day in a dark office, get out in the morning, at lunch and one more time in the afternoon. If you can’t get outside, get an artificial bright light bulb.

This could help you with depression too which, in turn, will help you sleep. See? Daylight is a fantastic thing.

Blue Light Not So Special

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Stop with the phones, tablets, and computers already! Seriously, the blue light they expose you to confuses your brain. It reduces the number of sleep hormones your body produces because you’ve tricked your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. Here’s how you can do yourself a favor and limit your blue light exposure:

Buy a Pair of Blue Light Blocking Glasses

These also help with eye fatigue if you spend half your life on a computer.

Download an App That Blocks Blue Light. 

Some more popular applications are f.lux, Redshift, SunsetScreen, Iris, Twilight and Night Shift.

Turn off all devices

This includes TV two hours before bed—we feel the same way—but it helps.



90% of the world consumes some kind of caffeine. It’s great as an eye opener or just a cup of focus in the morning. Here’s the deal—you could really be messing with the quality of your sleep. Caffeine stays elevated in your bloodstream for 6-8 hours.

If you need to be asleep by 11, that means no caffeine after 3 pm. Coffee, any tea but herbal, soda and energy drinks all will be your sleep’s enemy. Stick to non-caffeinated versions of your favorite drink. Ahhh, the science of sleep.

Keep a Schedule


We know how glorious it is to sleep in on the weekends, but do you notice how tired you are on Monday and Tuesday? Well, you’ve jacked up your sleep timer by getting out of your normal sleep routine.

Do your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same times consistently. Yes, that means not sleeping until noon every weekend. We can hear the groans from here. Give it a shot for a few weeks and see if you feel better. It may just solve your sleep issues.

Supplement Your Sleep


Some people don’t want to take vitamins or supplements to aid their sleep, and we’re not judging that. Some folks don’t want to change anything that’s normal. Just so you know, polio is natural—just saying. If you are ready to explore the supplemental help, you can get from certain herbal remedies. Think about giving these a try:


The most popular sleep supplement, it helps people fall asleep faster and feel better the next day. Start with a low dose to make sure you’re tolerant and increase it slowly—check with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you.

Valerian Root

Also a popular one. Taking 500 mg before bed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Some people report feeling sluggish, but the number of people it helps outnumbers them


Already plays an important role in your body. It helps to improve relaxation and eases restlessness, including restless legs


This amino acid can improve relaxation to help you sleep. Try 100-200 mg before turning in

You could go the essential oil route—people have found success with diffusers and a pulse point roll on. Studies show smelling certain scents can be as effective as a sleeping pill for some people. Try these oils to help you and your mind relax and drift off:

  • Lavender
  • Valerian
  • Clary sage
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Roman chamomile
  • Bergamot
  • Jasmine

Try rubbing a drop of two into your hands and sniff your hands in calm breaths. Add a few drops to your bath water, add them to Epsom salts or use a diffuser.

Step into Your Bedroom

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You may not want to hear this, but your bedroom could stand an overhaul. Too often we think about the main areas of our house—living room, kitchen, guest bathroom—and ensure they’re always guest ready yet you spend 30% of your life in your bedroom. It’s time to make sure it’s primed for sleep.

Colors That Promote Sleep

(DESIGNER_START)Consider showing the colors here(DESIGNER_STOP)The color of your walls can either help or diminish your quality of sleep. So, what are the best colors?

Icy blue

To your brain this mimics the night sky and is a great way, once your lights are out, to imagine sleeping under the stars.

Soft Green

Pick one with gray undertones and no pastels—this creates a relaxing atmosphere to prepare you for sleep.

Dark Blue

Not bright blue, pick one with some gray in it to mimic a dark night sky. Throw pops of icy blue or white to make your room open up because dark rooms can make your room seem smaller.


We know, we know… but if you pick a pale version, that’s not pastel—it can soothe your mind and calm your senses. Maybe just browse the lavender swatches and see if you can come to terms with it.

Colors That Inhibit Sleep

(DESIGNER_START)Consider showing the colors here(DESIGNER_STOP)There are colors that absolutely do the opposite of promoting sleep. Think about re-hauling your walls if they’re currently any of these colors:


People who had this color bedroom reported the least amount of sleep of all the colors. Yes, it’s an opulent color, but it also inspires creativity—not great for sleep.


You’ve heard the term “seeing red”? It’s not a good thing. Red is the universal color for danger and anger. We’re guessing it’s kinda hard to sleep while angry at all the danger.


While this is a popular color for bedrooms, it’s also a gloomy color and makes many people feel sad. Those with brown bedrooms had the second worst night’s sleep.


There’s a reason the song says “you make me happy when skies are gray”—it’s because gray makes us gloomy. You don’t want to feel gloomy when you’re trying to sleep.

Temperature, Sound, and Light


(designer_start) [insert gif of John Krasinski with his finger to his mouth shaking his head from A Quiet Place] (designer_stop)

Other studies show many people don’t realize how ambient light can affect their sleep. Get blackout curtains to keep pre-dawn or street lamp light from sneaking into your room. If you have an alarm clock or cable box throwing off the light, consider putting a piece of dark tape over the screen.

Ambient noise can drown out street sounds, the downstairs TV or snoring from your partner or dog. There are great apps like Rain Rain that mimic the sound of rain and wind if that’s a soothing sound to you. You can turn on a fan or pop in some earplugs to silence the room.

Have you ever rolled around on a bed in the miserable summer heat in a room with no air conditioning? Ugh—even the thought of it makes us unable to sleep. That’s why experts say it’s a good idea to lower the temperature in your room. You should keep your bedroom no warmer than 70 degrees at night, colder if you like it chilly.


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Yeah, we know. Exercise is kind of a cure-all in science, not just the science of sleep. Exercise keeps your epinephrine and adrenaline hormones pumping, and those are great—for staying awake. Get your exercise in at least two hours before bed, preferably four.

We still suggest getting your exercise in during the morning hours so you can soak up some sun and tell your body is time to wake up. Regular exercise is one of the most prescribed ways to get better sleep—cutting falling asleep time in almost half.

Stop Drinking Alcohol and Stuff


We know how relaxing it can be to have a glass or two of wine at the end of the day, but it doesn’t do great things for your actual sleep. It can increase symptoms of sleep apnea, snoring and restless sleep. It also alters your body’s ability to produce melatonin which you need to sleep.

One more thing—liquids will increase your chance of having to wake up in the middle of the night. Remember, to have quality sleep, by definition, means not waking up more than once. If you wait to get your day’s quota of water in until an hour before bed, you will not be well rested.

What Does Sleep Deprivation Do?


Sleep deprivation differs from having a bad night’s sleep. For people who shave time off their sleep each night over a long period, the effects are staggering:

  • Cravings for sweet, salty and starchy foods
  • Obesity
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • 6,000 fatal car crashes by drowsy drivers each year
  • 3 times the normal risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased risk for colorectal cancer
  • 48% increased risk for heart disease
  • 33% increased risk in dementia
  • Increased risk for anxiety, depression, irritability, and forgetfulness

Don’t be fooled into thinking one or two good night’s sleep can wipe out weeks or months of sleep deprivation—it only works for four to six hours after waking, and you’re right back in a bad place.

All great reasons to really rev up your sleep schedule and sleep routines—your health and longevity depend on it.

What If It’s a Disorder?


How do you tell if you’re just going through a brief rough patch with sleep or if it’s an actual disorder for which you may need help? The key is the word “brief.” Take a look at the most common sleep disorders.


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Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder affecting one-third of Americans. While it may be common, it’s no laughing matter. We can all handle having a hard time falling asleep for a night or two but anything past that and just the thought of going to bed at night stresses us out for fear we won’t fall asleep.

Symptoms of Insomnia:

  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • These symptoms are chronic, not acute

Causes of Insomnia:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Depression


  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
  • Meditation
  • Prescription Sleep Medication

It’s important to talk to your doctor about your inability to sleep if no home remedy is working. You know now how destructive long-term insomnia can be. There are miracle solutions for insomnia—it may take a few tries to figure out what works best for you, but there is hope.

Sleep Apnea

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This is the second most common sleep disorder for Americans. If you’ve ever been called out for snoring by a friend or partner, it’s easy to blame it on sleep apnea hoping to ease some of your embarrassment. But do you really have it?

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Excessively loud snoring
  • Daytime sleepiness—not just tired
  • Morning headaches

Causes of Sleep Apnea:

  • A complete or partial blockage of the throat


  • CPAP machine- (continuous positive airway pressure) which keeps the airway open through a steady stream of air

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor to be sure. He’ll probably want you in a sleep study but don’t worry—they’re just easy to take home contraptions you wear for a week and ship back. You’ll be glad you did.

Restless Leg Syndrome


Oh, the torture of restless leg syndrome (RLS). You can even settle in for the night; sure everything will be ok and then—BAM! You’re wildly kicking and distraught.

Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome:

  • An irresistible urge to move the legs and other limbs
  • Occurs mostly in the evening or during periods of rest
  • RLS sufferers can kick over 100 times a night—every night

Causes of Restless Leg Syndrome:

  • Nobody knows, but it’s thought to be hereditary
  • Pregnant women can also develop RLS
  • Certain medications can cause RLS


  • Exercise—there it is again
  • Reduction of caffeine and alcohol
  • Medication for severe cases

Go to your doctor for this one too. All sleep disorders are miserable—this one is your own body throwing you around like a rag doll. Someone can help you.

Other Sleep Disorders You Should Talk to a Doctor About

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If you’re experiencing symptoms of the following, talk to your doctor. Medicine has come a long way, and big advancements have been made in the science of sleep.


Being in a state of half-awake and half asleep most of the time. May involve fainting or sleeping spells


Walking while sleeping, waking up in a different room—happens most often in children

Sleep Terrors

Screaming, violent bursts of activity during sleep—once fully awake, the sufferer has a hard time calming down

It’s Time to Turn In


You have all the tools and information you need to get a good night’s rest. What you do from the moment you wake up can influence your sleep that night. It’s worth the time investment. A good sleep routine will add years to your life, keep extra pounds off and stave off illness and disease.

So, put on your comfy PJs, settle into your beautiful bedroom and drift off. With all the hard work you’ve done to make sure you can rest, you deserve a good night’s sleep. Sweet dreams…

Do You Sleep Easy At Night…?

Did you know that many of us do not get the right amount of sleep our body requires within each 24 hour day? Sure, you might tuck in at a sensible time, but getting enough sleep is not measured by how many hours you bed down for each night, but the quality of that sleep. If you wake up in the morning more tired than when you went to bed, you might have a problem!

For years and years I spent a good eight hours in my bed yet still felt tired when I woke up in the morning and I couldn’t understand it. This made me restless, irritable, and discontent on a daily basis and I was given the nickname ‘Grumpy’ by my work colleagues. Eventually I sought help and it was pointed out by my doctor that I had a sleep disorder which was preventing me from getting enough ‘quality’ sleep at night.

If this sounds familiar, don’t do what I did and suffer unduly as it’s really not necessary. Get your life back on track starting today, and find out why you are tired all the time. Since my problem was diagnosed I’ve become a different person. My personal relationships with other people have improved tenfold and I’m much more alert and relaxed too.

There are many reasons why people don’t sleep well, some mental others physical, but once the problem is discovered a solution can be found. For me, it was a simple matter of my bed and bedding items. This might sound daft but a few changes in the bedroom has improved my life beyond all previous recognition.

After getting some professional advice, I changed my bed and mattress to something more suitable for my size and shape. I also purchased a memory foam pillow which eliminated the discomfort I used to endure each morning with my neck and right shoulder. And finally, I cover up with an ultra soft and unbelievably cozy down comforter.

These small and somewhat costly changes to the bedroom have transformed my general health and wellbeing into the fourth dimension. Okay, so that’s a little over the top, but I have to say, my life is not the same. I not only feel and function better, but I look great too according to those that knew me before I started to enjoy sound sleeping.

Sleep is Important! In fact sleep is a basic human need that we can’t do without, and it’s a natural part of everybody’s life. With research and reports being published all the time by those that study the importance of sleep, more people are now becoming aware about just how vital it actually is. Sleep is something our bodies NEED to do and it is NOT AN OPTION!

If you can’t sleep easy at night, then you really should take a look at finding the root cause of the problem. No one needs to suffer sleep depravation as most problems associated with lack of sleep can be solved or at the very least be improved upon. Remember, Sleep is like diet and exercise in as much as it’s vital for our minds and bodies to function normally.

Power Sleeping starts with Understanding Sleep

by Craig Desorcy

Power Sleeping starts with Understanding Sleep

Most people may not realize it but getting proper sleep involves a complex process which not only energizes the body but also promotes healing strengthens the immune system. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding sleep but with a proper understanding of the inner sleep system you can dramatically improve your quality of life.

Power Naps

Naps can be very beneficial for improving energy if done properly and for the right duration. If napping is not done properly it can actually disturb your inner sleep system, inner sleep clock and leave you feeling tired and drained. There are five stages of sleep. The first two stages are considered light sleep and the last three stages are where deep sleep takes place. During Stage 1 and 2 we can be easily awakened. During the latter stages we enter deep sleep which is where major physiological changes take place including a slower heart rate, a drop in respiration and a lower body temperature. People usually enter deep sleep after about 45 minutes and if awakened during deep sleep the processes can be harmed. For this reason naps should always be less than 45 minutes. In fact, it has been determined that ten to twenty minutes naps can be the most effective in increasing energy levels and making you feel refreshed.

Too Much Sleep can be Harmful

It is a common misconception that the longer you sleep the more energy you will have. This is not true. Have you ever noticed that when you sleep longer than usual you are often then tired all day? Sleeping too long can actually rob you of energy and damage your inner sleep system. This is because one very important element of your inner sleep system is prior wakefulness. When you sleep too long you limit your awake time and put stress on your melatonin levels, sunlight exposure time, and body temperature rhythm. Too much sleep can also be detrimental to the quality of deep sleep that you experience which can compromise the immune system.

Quality Sleep for Health

You may have noticed that people tend to sleep longer when they are sick. This is because when we enter deep sleep, Stage 3 and Stage 4, our blood vessels dilate and all of the blood that typically stored in the organs throughout the day moves into our muscles to nourish and repair them. Our immune system activates during deep sleep to heal our bodies and fight off disease.

A proper understanding of the inner sleep system can ensure that we receive the proper amounts of light and deep sleep. This can ultimately resulting more energy, less visits to the doctor and the ability to go on less sleep.

Sleep Better

by Robert Kokoska

Sleep better and live better – Positive advantages of a better sleeping habit are well known and its importance can not be simply denied. Health is always linked to your sleeping habits, how well you sleep and the number of sleeping hours in day. Sleep is probably the most loved habit in human history; everyone just loves to have a nap, at least for a few minutes in a day. A tired body needs a good round of sleep, while a weary mind needs a few minutes of rest as well. A good nights sleep weans away tiredness, stress, tension and worries. As a compliment, a good sleep will keep you cheerful and energetic throughout the day. However, sleep pattern among people varies to a considerable degree and many of them are denied the advantages of a better sleep. Lack of sleep or insufficient sleep in people is detrimental to their mind and physique.

Lack of better sleep or insufficient sleep may arise out of a host of factors; improper personal habits and physiological imbalances could cause loss of sleep and in some extreme cases they may lead to chronic insomnia as well. If you feel that youre not sleeping as you should be, then you will consider why such things are happening to you. Try and find out reasons as to why youre not getting better sleep, even during nighttime. Most of the problems related to lack of sleep are habitual and developed over a period of time. Youre what you are! – Your personality is reflected by the number hours you sleep and the overall quality of sleep. Are you sleeping better? Here are some tips for getting a better night sleep:

1. Substances like alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, nicotine and drugs are precursors to bad sleep; these substances are known to make you restless during night. The resulting restlessness will not allow you to sleep properly and when youre addicted to such substances, you may loose a regular sleeping habit. Avoid such harmful substances to get a better night sleep.

2. Create a proper ambience to induce your body to get a better sleep. Keep your pets out of your bedroom. Minimize harsh light, shut out high decibel sound and instead turn on your favorite music at a very low volume. Keep your room tidy and neat. Check that the bed you sleep is clean and the sheets very fresh.

3. Relax before going to bed; take a warm water shower and eat a light snack with some juice. You can also try meditation exercises or yoga. If you are reader, try and read something that is light humor.

4. Never consume too much liquid before going to bed, as it will make you visit your bathroom many times in the night. Sleeping is a natural act, and never attempt inducing sleep by taking sleeping pills or sleep inducers. Avoid sleeping during daytime and limit it to shorter naps instead.

5. Always wake at the same time every morning and make it a habit. Check your medications and how you take them. Seek tips from your physician about those drugs which may cause loss of sleep.

Better sleep is a combination of good habits and healthy lifestyle; as you try to achieve a perfect balance, youll see a marked improvement in your sleep pattern.

The Most Common Types of Sleep Disorders Explained

by John Masters

Sleep disorders (also sometimes referred to as somnipathy) are disorders that interrupt a person’s normal sleep patterns. In order for a sleep disorder to be classified as such, it must take place on a more or less regular basis. Occasional or rare sleep disruptions do not constitute as sleep disorders. Some sleep disorders cause problems with mental and emotional functioning while others manifest themselves in physical ways.

Some of the most common sleep disorders include bruxism, delayed sleep phase syndrome (PSPS), hypopnea syndrome, insomnia, jet lag (or desynchronosis), narcolepsy, night terror (or sleep terror disorder, also referred to by its scientific name which is Pavor nocturnus), parasomnias, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) and rapid eye movement behavior disorder (RBD).

Other types of sleep disorders include restless legs syndrome (RLS), shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), sleep apnea, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking (also known as somnambulism) and snoring.

Sleep experts break down sleep disorders into three categories. These categories include:

  1. Dysomnias
  2. Parasomnias
  3. Medical or Psychiatric Conditions


Dysomnias take in a vast array of sleep disorders that are connected to either insomnia or hypersomnolence. Three subcategories of dysomnias are intrinsic (meaning that the origin comes from within the body), extrinsic (meaning that its origin is related to environmental or a variety of pathological reasons) and thirdly, disturbances related to the circadian rhythm of the body.

Examples of dysomnias include insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, hypersomnia, recurrent hypersomnia, periodic limb movement disorder, posttraumatic hypersomnia, ‘healthy’ hypersomnia, circadian rhythm sleep disorders, delayed sleep phase syndrome, advanced sleep phase syndrome and non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome.


Parasomnias include sleep disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder, sleep terror, sleepwalking (also called somnambulism), teeth grinding (or bruxism), sleep enuresis (bed-wetting), sudden infant death syndrome (or SIDS) and sleep talking (also referred to as somniloquy).

Psychiatric or Medical Problems

The third and final category of sleep disorders is psychiatric or medical problems that could serve to disrupt regular sleep patterns. Examples include psychoses (such as schizophrenia), mood disorders, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, panic, and sleeping sickness (which can be caused by the Tsetse fly). Please note that snoring is not considered a disorder on its own although it can be the symptom of a greater health problem and it can lead to more serious problems such as sleep apnea.

Factors Involoved

There are varieties of factors that can cause a sleep disorder to begin. Lifestyle changes often play a role such as in those who work shift work (shirt work sleep disorder or abbreviated to SWSD). Other problems that can wreck havoc with consistent sleep patterns include pain or problems with the neck, shoulders or back, sciatica, noise in the environment, incontinence, a room that is too cold, too hot, too dark or too light and a variety of drugs, prescription or otherwise. A number of different drugs can affect sleep in its various stages and often taking sleeping pills or sedatives can make problems even worse because it disrupts the normal sleep pattern even more.

If you snore or find yourself extremely tired throughout the day and unable to concentrate on ordinary daily tasks it would be wise to go see your doctor. As well keeping a diary about your sleep habits can work as a helpful tool when it comes to diagnosing a sleep disorder.

The Truth About Sleep Deprivation

by Steve Bishop

As you may have discovered through your life, having sleep is very important to your well-being. Sleep is essential to you because sleeping will give you the necessary energy to live and breathe through another demanding and stressful day. Sleeping also gives you the time to take it easy, relax, and to stop thinking about your worries and anxieties that will sometimes trouble you in your waking state.

Sleep also helps to look after your body and help your memory to stay sharp. Sleeping is as important as eating and drinking so we should pay attention to our sleeping habits like we check our bank accounts. Without proper sleep, your body will not function efficiently.

Unfortunately, most people feel they do not get enough sleep. Todays high-speed lifestyle causes people to experience lack of sleep. This is largely due to over working and poor diet; while others experience a variety of sleep disorders that just stop them from getting enough sleep.

There are different reasons for sleep deprivation. Somniphobia, (fear of sleeping) tension or stress, environmental noises, working at a night shift, and travelling around from place to place can cause sleep deprivation. But the most common and well-known causes of sleep deprivation are sleep disorders, and the best known sleep disorder is insomnia.

Sleep disorders cause lack of sleep and excessive sleepiness (normally occurs during the day) too. However excessive sleepiness caused by sleep disorders is not healthy. They do not have good quality like the sleep a normal person will experience.

The Sleep Process

As we fall asleep, we enter the transition sleep called Stage 1 and begin our first sleep cycle. Within a few minutes we go into our Stage 2 sleep.

Stage 2 sleep is where the other three stages come from. Within 15-20 minutes we have gradually evolved into Stage 3 then Stage 4 sleep.

Stages 2, 3, 4 are called delta sleep or NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. Our respiration and heart beat slowdown during these 4 stages. Our body also becomes immobile.

After almost half an hour of NREM sleep, our brain goes loco and we go back to stage 2 sleep and then go to REM (rapid eye movement) sleep where our brain becomes very active and our respiration and heart rate increases again.

This is the stage where our dreams occur. Our eyes also move in all directions under our eyelids. The REM sleep will happen for only about 10-20 minutes and then goes back to stage 2 again. This marks the end of the first sleep cycle and then starts all over again.

As we start all over again we gradually lose our time for NREM sleep and replace it with longer alternating stage 2 and REM sleep and by the final sleep cycle, we will spend about half our time in stage 2 sleep and half in REM sleep. Sleep will normally end after six cycles.

Are You Too Stressed To Sleep

Do you suffer from stress? If you answer this with ‘yes’ then it’s quite likely you are not getting enough sleep, or quality sound sleep. Sometimes it’s difficult to know which came first, the stress or the lack or sleep. We can actually place stress alongside sleep as the two are so very important to each other. Tired people do not think or function well and therefore lack of sleep can cause them to be restless and irritable, and anyone feeling like this is prone to becoming stressed in the simplest of situations.

Good sleep is imperative to good health and that’s official. Adults who suffer from a chronic state of tension often suffer stress related symptoms and illness. It’s now a well known fact that folks who sleep well, not only feel and function better than those that don’t, but are less likely to react negatively in stressful situations.

I went through a period where I was constantly agitated and impatient, and found it easy to blame the way I was on the people, places, and things around me. However, after eventually seeking professional help for stress, it was quickly pointed out to me that I was agitated because I was in a constant state of sleep depravation. I always thought that the stress levels were making me tired and I never thought for an instant that it could be the other way around.

Looking a little deeper into the causes for my lack of sleep it was soon revealed that my bed was the main cause for this debilitating condition. Sure, I was sleeping at night, but I wasn’t sleeping well. I had had the same bed for many years and it was sagging and un-supporting. During those sleeping hours I was tossing and turning all through the night as I attempted to reposition myself into a more comfortable position. I would never have thought that changing a bed would have such a drastic positive impact on the way I functioned during those daytime hours.

There are a multitude of reasons why people are stressed, and an interrupted sleep pattern is just one of them, but it’s one that’s more common than many would ever have realized. If you find that stress is making you tired then you are probably too stressed to sleep and it’s this knock on effect that causes so many of us stress related problems.

If you’re having trouble with stress but are otherwise in good overall health, it’s definitely worth taking a look at your bed, your bedding items, and the décor of your bedroom, as all 3 could be contributing to your state of anxiety or nervous tension. Another factor to look at is diet, which can also be a somewhat latent cause of undue stress.

Although the 21st century seems to cruelly dish out a lifestyle that comes with lots of stress related situations as the norm, no one needs to go through as much stress discomfort as they do. It’s often a case of pausing, taking a deep breath, and looking at the root cause of the problem (and there will be one!).

Once the problem is identified a solution(s) can be sought. If in doubt, seek professional medical help without delay, and before you know it an improvement in your overall performance and personal relationships will give you a fresh new perspective on the way you live your life.

What Are The Different Types Of Sleeping Disorders

by Kathryn Whittaker

Several physical, medical, psychiatric or external factors cause disruption in sleep. Sleeping disorders are a common problem among people all over the world. There can be different types of sleeping disorders and the symptoms and causes may vary according to the types.

Sleeping disorders usually occur due to stress, anxiety, grief, dependencies like alcoholism and various external environmental factors. Many people can experience sleeping disorders due to food sensitivity, which causes disruption while sleeping.

The state of your health can also affect your sleeping. Mood swings, chronic diseases, depression, pain and alcoholism can all cause insomnia. Many women have sleeping disorders due to menstruation-related problems, with some women reporting insomnia during their menstrual periods. Pregnancy is also a common cause of sleeping disorders in women.

Sleeping disorders can be classified into four general categories. They are dyssomnias, parasomnias, medical or psychiatric problems, and proposed disorders.

Dyssomnia happens because of the interruption to the bodys natural resting. It can be caused by external factors or due to environmental factors.

Parasomnia is a sleeping disorder that is caused by difficulties with arousal or sleeping stage changeover. It is a type of sleeping disorders where bedwetting, teeth grinding, night terrors, and sleep talking or walking can disturb sleep. Medical or psychiatric problems, which disturb sleep tend to come from alcoholism, ulcers, asthma and anxiety.

Then there are proposed disorders, which are rest-related disturbances. The time required by people to take rest varies from individual to individual. Some might require longer periods or shorter periods. But if the total rest periods are unusual in length then it causes a sleeping disorder.

There are also less serious sleeping disorders. Many people suffer with excessive night sweating without having fever. Usually youll wake up with your pjs and sheets drenched in sweat. During sleep there can be fidgety or twitchy movements of limbs. Even though this is not a serious problem, it can cause disturbed sleep. Nightmares and vivid dreams can also disturb your sleep.

If you detect any of these symptoms then it is important you seek treatment. Sleep is such a vital component of good health that you should treat any prolonged sleep disorders as warranting attention.

If you’re not sleeping as well as you should, here are some nifty tips to get you there

For years, I had regular bouts with insomnia-and I found myself unable to concentrate and focus, and if you ask my family they’d say I was even irritable.  Let’s face it, when you don’t sleep well you’re just not at your best no matter how many energy drinks you down or how many cups of coffee you slurp.

Your body/mind batteries need to be recharged every single night for you to be at your best. I think people really do take the whole issue of sleep sort of as an afterthought.  I think perfect proof of this is if you’ve got all kinds of gadgets and gizmos like TVs and computers in your bedroom.
So let’s go over some tips that should help us actually use the bedroom for what it’s mostly meant for, sleeping.

1..Ditch the wild purple and yellow walls along with your favorite Texas chainsaw massacre posters.  That is, unless you’re 16 — when this sort of thing seems to be a requirement for bedroom decor.  Chances are if you’re 16 you probably have no trouble at all falling to sleep pretty much anywhere- so feel free to keep the crazy decor.
Try more calming, cool colors like shades of blue, green, or more neutral tones of ivory, tan and such to help calm your mood to help you relax and drift off to sleep easier.

2.. Do yourself a favor and think about moving your computer your stereos your televisions into another room altogether. If you regularly have trouble getting to sleep, then watching TV in bed isn’t a great idea.  And having a computer there is actually distracting as well.You want to create a bedroom that’s calming and relaxing. If you resist this idea just try it for a week and see if it works.

3.. Try a humidifier or air purifier especially if you’re in a dry climate. You’ll breathe easier with the air quality being better. I can’t believe how much better I sleep using a humidifier every night.  It’s easier to breathe and the white noise drowns out all the other street noises that would normally keep me awake.  I used to use earplugs for many years, and this worked beautifully until I put one in too far and my eardrum was slightly damaged.  So if you’re tempted to use earplugs please be careful so that doesn’t happen to you.

4.. Keep your bedroom organized and clean. Get yourself a good closet organizer and keep all of your clothes and shoes in order. Keep stuff picked up and clutter down. Having everything in its place will give you a sense of calm. Sure beats wading through piles of clothes strewn about the place.

5.. Your bedroom should be as dark as possible, so make sure your drapes and window treatments are up to the job — this applies especially for those of us who are or have worked night shifts.

6.. If you can’t get to sleep after about 20 minutes, then experts say you’re supposed to get up.Try reading for a few minutes, or watch TV if you need to until you’re ready to go back to bed and try again.  The point is to condition yourself to be ready to go to sleep when your head hits the pillow.

Try some of these tips even though you may not think that they’ll work for you. All you have to lose is not getting any sleep, right…?

Why Poor Sleep Lowers Your Immune System

by Kacper Postawski

Have you ever wondered exactly why we tend to sleep longer when were sick? As you might already know, we sleep in ‘sleep cycles’. We can categorize these cycles into ‘light sleep’, and ‘deep sleep.’

But just HOW important deep sleep is to our immune system?… As you read, its during the first 3-4 hours of our sleep that we experience the longest period of Stage 3 and Stage 4 sleep.

Stage 3 and Stage 4 Sleep is also commonly termed ‘deep sleep.’ Its during deep sleep that we experience very low brain waves called Theta and Delta brain waves.

Our blood vessels dilate and all the blood that is usually stored in our organs throughout the day moves into our muscles to nourish and repair them. Our immune system also activates during deep sleep to fight disease.

This is why people tend to sleep longer when theyre sick. When you dont take proper care of your inner sleeping system, youre usually at risk of ‘poor sleep.’ Poor sleep happens for a variety of reasons which I outline in the Powerful Sleep book, but the main ‘symptom’ is the inability or the difficulty of obtaining proper amounts of ‘deep sleep.’

Its very common for people who travel across many time zones to get sick very quickly, we usually blame this on ‘Jet-Lag.’ However, jet lag happens because of the bodys natural body temperature rhythm being out of alignment. Jet-Lag commonly creates a disruption of deep sleep, added with the stress of travel, this is a perfect mixture for lowering ones immune system.

Most people live without being aware of all the actions theyre taking in their lives that are completely detrimental to their sleeping system, which are depriving them of energy, and making them SLEEP LONGER than they really need to. Fortunately, there are simple methods to take proper care of your inner sleep system, and strengthen it for maximum performance.