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How to Sleep More Effectively Tonight

How to Sleep More Effectively Tonight



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Published by Le Chu

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Published by: Le Chu on Jun 23, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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“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
should have no problem falling asleep. After that, allow yourself as much sleep as youneed. If you persistently sleep too little, you run the risk of becoming overweight, absent-minded and ill; a daily sleep deficit of two hours over a period of 14 days is as damagingas a night with no sleep.Sleeping too much is also a rest buster. If you sleep for longer than your personal optimal period, your sleep will be empty and restless. If you oversleep for many hours, you willfall into another deep sleep in the morning. This will upset your circadian clock and youwill wake up feeling absolutely whacked. If this is your problem, you can reverse thesituation by keeping your time in bed to the absolute minimum and staying up a bit later at night to prolong the restful deep sleep at the beginning of the night.
3. Worship the sun.
Most people can get away with some wildness in their routines as long as they soak upsome bright light at the right time. Normal indoor lighting provides 400 lux of illumination, which doesn’t help much; the sun, however, provides 1 500 to 100 000 lux.So if you spend one hour outdoors before starting work you will be more alert andcheerful during the day.It’s easier to do in summer than winter but if you can’t manage it at all, you could followthe European trend of substituting your light quota with some artificial sunlight. For a positive effect, you need at least half an hour at 10 000 lux or two hours at 2 500 lux. Youcan also gradually adjust your preferred sleeping times using artificial sunlight - to partylonger into the night, you will have to soak up some light in the evening - artificial lightwill bring some relief but your sleep and wellbeing will still suffer.
4. Keep the rhythm.
Your body was designed to sync with the cycles of nature - including daylight anddarkness. Your circadian, or biological clock, regulates aspects of your metabolism, physiology and behavior. At night, it triggers the supply of the sleep hormone melatolin,and in the morning the wake-up substance cortisol. It also regulates body temperature sothat lowest point is reached at about 3 a.m.Biologically speaking, this is the witching hour and the most inappropriate time to beawake. The prime time for deep sleep occurs in the first five hours of sleep and before 3a.m. If you’re in the habit of staying up way past midnight, you can forget about qualitysleep, even if you’ll sleep till noon.And don’t even think about going to bed too early because you have to get up early or want to squeeze in an extra workout. This only works if you’re already exhausted and fallasleep instantly; what’s more likely is that you will lie half-awake, start to brood andfinally get to sleep tense and restless.

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