Today's hectic and stressful lifestyle has left many of us with varying degrees of sleeplessness. There are so many levels and types of sleep disorder that it is not surprising that it is such a widespread problem.
Insomnia affects most of us at some stage in our lives even teenagers and can affect individuals of any level of fitness. Whether due to stress, shift work, caring for others or after illness, disrupted sleep patterns have a negative affect on our wellbeing making it more difficult for us to cope with day-to-day demands on our time. Broken sleep patterns can become difficult to re-establish so it is important to be aware of the available techniques to prevent the odd night of wakefulness becoming an ongoing problem.
The importance of sleeping well
When we sleep well we feel and look 100% better and much more able to enjoy the day ahead. Sleep is essential to life; our body and our brain require the five stages of sleep to restore and regenerate. We sleep in different ways at different times of the night so it is important that we relax into an unbroken sleep that follows its natural progression right through to a gentle wake up. The stages of sleep are as follows:
A brief stage which lasts only a few minutes but which can easily be disrupted. The body and mind drift off to sleep. The brain waves are mostly high amplitude, slow waves and occasional alpha waves (like those we have when we are awake).
Heartbeat and breathing begin to slow and the sleep deepens. Slow wave sleep continues with occasional peaks of brain waves occurring.
Stages 3 & 4
Our deepest sleep when the brain waves are slow, muscles are relaxed. Dreams are common and sleepwalking and talking may occur in some people.
Stages 1 - 4 are non REM sleep and the brain is 'quiet' but during this time hormones are released into the bloodstream and the body repairs itself after the wear and tear of the day.
Stage 5 REM sleep
One of the most important stages of sleep is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep comes and goes throughout the night lasting from as little as 10 minutes to as long as an hour. During REM sleep the brain is very active, our eyes move rapidly from side to side and we dream most vividly. Brain waves resemble those during waking. When deprived of REM sleep we tend to be less adept at problem solving and creative thinking.
Sleep and beauty
Cell renewal increases as we sleep and the body copes with the toxins we have built
up during the day. Whilst we are sleeping our skin is one of the organs that is renewing itself.
Sleep and age
We sleep differently at different times of our lives depending on our individual body's needs. For example, athletes are said to spend more of their sleep in stages 3 and 4 when the body repairs itself. Babies and children experience a larger portion of REM sleep than adults. The amount of sleep we need is dependent on our age and how much exercise we take. Babies tend to sleep for about 17 hours a day - they have a lot of growing to do! Older children sleep around 9 or 10 hours and most adults require between 7 and 8 hours a night. This reduces as we get older and sometimes it is harder to get to sleep later in life.
If we go without sleep most of us tend to feel drowsy during the day, we find it more difficult to concentrate for any length of time and we may become irritable. We can usually get by with these symptoms occasionally unless we need to drive or are working with machinery. However, a prolonged time of insomnia may begin to create other symptoms such as depression, anxiety, physical aches and pains.
It may be of benefit to record the following relaxation technique, ideal for use with your Sunrise System in particular the SRS 150 or SRS 260 which have a free MMC card with nature sounds. You can also record and play your own tracks using the Sunrise System for waking or sleeping.
Wearing loose clothing get comfortable on a bed or sofa.
Breath deeply and slowly. Close your eyes and visualise a location that you find peaceful and restful.
Flex and contract the muscles in your feet and hold for 10 seconds.
Relax your feet.
Slowly moving up your body through your lower legs, thighs, abdomen, back, neck, shoulders and face; gently contract and then relax and soften the muscles as you mentally progress up the body.
Keep your mind free of thoughts.
Let any thoughts that occur drift away.
Breathe deeply and slowly.
Focus on your breathing and visualise your peaceful location if your mind starts to wander.
When you feel ready return slowly to full awareness, alternatively if you are ready to sleep for the night press the alarm button on your Sunrise System to set it and settle down to drift off to sleep to your individual sunset.
Restful sleep with a Sunrise System
In the hours before your bedtime ensure that you avoid caffeine, alcohol and eating a heavy meal. Avoid watching lively action television.
Ensure you are ready for bed, that you have mentally dealt with the activities of the day and that you feel settled and relaxed.
Dress comfortably for bed and check that the room is quiet and at a temperature suitable for sleep.
Try and make sure that you won't be disturbed.
Check that you have set your Sunrise System to wake you up gently with light and and drift off to sleep over the duration of your individual sunset using the Sunrise System dusk simulation.