Sleep is the foundation for all health and today we are focussing on Deep Sleep and its contribution to our overall health and well being. We know sleep is key to healthy living intuitively but we are conditioned by society and influenced by media and other sources to disregard sleep as we get older.
For example, when our children are young and they are getting upset or cranky, what do we say. "They need a nap" or "he didn't sleep well last night".
When we get sick, what do our bodies know to do? That's right, GET TO BED!
But society tells us a different story. When our kids are in high school, our society pushes them to the brink physically, emotionally, and mentally. Our high school aged children go from a fast breakfast on the run to early morning practice to class to afternoon practice or piano to a late dinner to homework and to bed late. Then have to get up early and do it all over again. All while dealing with all the other issues we have growing up: Do I fit in, who am I, does he or she like me, where will I go to school, if I don't make the grades what will happen to me, am I handsome or pretty enough, on and on.
The point is we take these habits with us into our adult lives. We go go go and we tend to give up sleep as the sacrificial lamb. Our bodies are extremely resilient bio mechanical machines, but over time they wear down. Some sooner than others.
Bottom line, we need sleep in the proper amounts, and the proper categories.
Those categories are Duration, Stress, Deep Sleep, Light Sleep, REM sleep, and restlessness.
What happens during deep sleep?
Deep sleep, also known as slow wave or level three sleep is when you are completely still and sleeping most soundly. This is a critical time when your body is boosting, repairing immune function, repairing muscle tissues, and increasing energy reserves. If you're an athlete, you will probably notice you have longer cycles of deep sleep.
What happens if I don't get enough deep sleep?
If your deep sleep numbers are below normal (deep sleep should be 15-33% of your total sleep according to the National Sleep Foundation
Tips for better Deep sleep
- Reducing stress (we'll have to do a separate blog for that one folks!). Bottom line here is that you need to follow a set routine before bed at the same time each night. Start with a ritual that winds your mind down at the same time each night. You can mix up the routine details but, in general, your sending signals to your mind and physical body that sleep is approaching.
- Aerobic exercises like running, cycling or other cardio activities can also help. You need to get your heart rate over 140 for 30 min (check with your doctor before starting any exercise routine).
- NOTE: Don't exercise too close to bedtime or your workout will have the opposite effect and hurt your sleep cycle because of the hormones that are released during exercise.
So there you have it. Get into a repeatable ritual that begins the sleep cycle. Exercise during the day so that your body has a reason to go into long cycles of deep sleep. In other words, it will need to heal what you put stress on in your work out.
Do these simple things and you will improve your deep sleep and your body and mind will thank you for it. So will your family and friends LOL.
Much love and blessings : )