Why is sleep important? 6 tips for better sleep

12 May 2022

A good night’s sleep is the key to everyone’s well-being. It affects functions of the brain such as memory and concentration, as well as overall mood and psyche. For adults, the recommended sleep time is between 6 and 8 hours, and for children - at least 9. Despite these guidelines, many people have trouble falling asleep and providing the necessary rest for the body. According to studies, nearly 30% of adults experience symptoms of insomnia.

What happens to your body while sleeping?

Many biological processes occur in the body during night sleep. The brain sorts out the information it has collected during the day and releases excess toxins. The body repairs its cells, accumulates energy, and reproduces molecules of various hormones and proteins. Being asleep is also the time when muscles recover from the stress accumulated during the day and allow the development of new tissues. What also happens during the night is that the hunger hormones are controlled – ghrelin (the hormone that controls appetite), and leptin (the hormone that gives the feeling of being full after eating).

What are the sleep phases?

Sleep is divided into 4 phases, each of which lasts between 70 and 120 minutes. They are as follows: 1 REM phase - rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and 3 non-REM phases. During the non-REM phases, the body relaxes, the pulse slows down, the brain waves become slower, and the body temperature drops. In other words, the body “switches itself off” and begins to regenerate. The sleep cycle ends with the REM phase, during which dreams occur, and the heart rate and respiration increase.

What are the risks of poor sleep patterns?

The negative effects on the body caused by lack of quality sleep are many because every system in the body needs rest time. Impaired sleep patterns usually observed in people who work in shifts, change the circadian rhythm of the biological clock. This in turn has been shown to increase the risk of cancer. The International Journal of Cancer reports that there is a link between women’s irregular work schedules and the development of breast cancer.

Another downside of poor sleep is metabolic problems. This reflects on blood glucose levels and increases the risk of insulin resistance - a condition also known as prediabetes. Numerous studies have found that lack of proper sleep leads to chronic skin problems, poor mental health, and depression.

How to have a healthy sleep schedule?

We have collected 6 of the most easily applied tips and effective measures against the difficulties of falling asleep at night and waking up often (all of them leading to poor sleep).

1. Schedule - make sure you go to bed at the same time every night, whether you feel sleepy or not. This will help you build a sleep routine and then you will start feeling tired at the same time every evening.

2. Sleep hygiene - it is important to build a habit for the body, so when you lie down in bed, the brain associates it with rest time. This is the reason why experts recommend that you do not eat in bed or use it as a place to work.

3. Atmosphere - an hour before you prepare for sleep, turn down the lights so your eyes can relax. It is also crucial to avoid blue lights from phones and other screens because they make it difficult to fall asleep.

4. Food - if you have difficulty sleeping, then reduce the use of caffeine to a minimum. It is also important not to go to bed replete with food or when feeling very hungry because this would affect the process of falling asleep.

5. Sports - studies show that exercising even 30 minutes a day dramatically increases sleep quality. It should be noted that if you exercise late at night, close to bedtime, the effect may be reversed due to the adrenaline rush produced during exercise.

6. Comfort - the correct posture during sleep is important, but if your mattress and pillow do not allow you to be in it, we recommend that you change them. Many people find that they sleep better in a hotel, where the beds are of a higher class and allow more comfort for rest.

Healthy eating, low-stress levels, and moderate alcohol consumption are also key aspects of ensuring that the body is predisposed to quality sleep every night. In severe cases, when none of these methods work, medications or supplements are recommended that require a visit to the doctor.

Medical consultation

If you want to contact a sleep specialist without having to leave the comfort of your home, try the Medrec:M mobile app. It offers a function for remote consultations, known as telemedicine, with doctors of various specialties. Download it now to improve your sleep quality.

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