“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
- Homer Tired after getting a full nine hours and still feeling exhausted?You sleep the sleep of the innocent - you nod off quickly, don’thave nightmares and have no trouble breathing - and still you canhardly get up in the morning and seldom feel totally awake, nomatter how long you slept the previous night. You are sufferingfrom a clear-cut case of ineffective sleep.The good news is that, starting tonight, you can improve thequality of your sleep. So pull up a pillow and learn how to getmore rest while spending less time on your back.
1. Go deep.
It is possible to sleep too long or at the wrong time. In both casesyou may be getting enough rest, but you still feel weary. That’s because the amount of time you spend in bed is not as important as maximizing sleeping patterns.Your sleep consists of five stages, distinguished by different brain activities. Just shortlyafter falling asleep, you start sinking gradually into a deep sleep. You soon surface fromthis and enter a dreaming period commonly known as REM sleep. After that, it’s back toseveral deep-sleep phases, which grow shorter as the night progresses.To wake up easily, set your alarm to wake you up at the end of a cycle rather than in themiddle of deep sleep. A cycle normally lasts at least 90 min., bearing in mind that the firstone is somewhat shorter, so you will probably be in light sleep after five-and-a-half,seven, and eight-and-a-half hours in bed (that includes the time it takes for you to fallasleep). If you’re still deep in dreamland when the alarm goes off, add a few minutes toyour sleeping time the next day.
2. Surrender to your genes.
As I mentioned, there are three optimal lengths of sleep - but that doesn’t mean you can just choose one. A study completed this spring by Washington State University Spokanesuggests that our sleep patterns are embedded in our bodies - perhaps in our very genes.Some of us will need five-and-a-half hours of sleep, while others will need at least eight-and-a-half. Most people will manage comfortably on seven hours. Your genes decide for you and you can’t just alter it without paying the price.There is hardly anybody out there who knows what it means to be fully awake. Studieshave found that proper sleeping patterns emerge only after you have caught up with up to25 hours of missing sleep. To optimize your sleep, crawl into bed half an hour earlier each evening for a few nights. As long as you have a sleep deficit to catch up on, you