Understanding Sleep Cycles & How They Contribute to a Good Nights Slumber

Some people think that that the moment they get into bed, they immediately fall into a deep sleep and remain that way until morning. However, the reality is that a person’s sleep pattern is broken into several distinctive stages. Understanding them can contribute to more beneficial sleep habits.

A busy schedule can cut in to the quality of sleep. Scientific studies have shown that an average adult needs between 7 1/2 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Getting less than this amount makes it very difficult for a person to progress into proper sleep stages. Sleep stages are divided into two types: REM sleep and non-REM sleep.

The Non-REM Stages of Sleep

The first stage of non-REM sleep is called the transition to sleep and it usually lasts about five minutes. As the name implies, a person enters into this stage when they are starting to drift off to sleep.  They are easily awakened, and the eyes are still moving fairly rapidly under the eyelids. However, muscle activity does begin to slow down in preparation for the deeper stages of sleep.

The second stage is called light sleep.  This is the first stage where a person truly experiences sleep. Here, the eyes stop moving underneath the eyelids and the heart rate slows down considerably.  The body temperature drops during this stage, too. Generally, it takes about 10 to 25 minutes for this stage to reach completion.

The third stage, called deep sleep, is when physical energy gets restored, the immune system is strengthened and growth is stimulated. Since this is the deepest stage of sleep, the brain waves slow down. So, people who are in deep sleep are usually extremely hard to wake up. When they are awakened, a groggy or disoriented feeling is very common.

REM Sleep

REM sleep is also known as dream sleep.  As you might expect, it is during this state that dreams occur. It usually happens from 70 to 90 minutes after a person falls asleep. Paralysed leg and arm muscles, shallow breathing and increased heart rate and blood pressure characterize dream sleep. Whereas deep sleep restores the body, REM sleep does the same for the mind.  REM sleep enables the brain to process new things that it learned during the day, while forming connections among neurons to boost the memory.

When the various stages of non-REM sleep and REM sleep are combined, they represent one sleep cycle. Normally, a full sleep cycle lasts for about an hour and a half, and a person will experience between four and six sleep cycles per night.

Getting enough quality sleep is essential to maintain wellness. Things like being woken up in the middle of the night, eating or drinking too close to bedtime and working at odd hours are all things that can disrupt a sleep cycle. To help yourself achieve restful sleep, make your bedtime a priority. When it’s time for bed, that’s your cue to turn off the television, unplug the mobile phone and put the stresses of life behind you until morning. When you make a commitment to sleep, you’ll soon find that you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to face the day.

A Good Night’s Sleep is Necessary for Your Health & Wellbeing

The human body has incredible healing powers.  One of the best ways to make sure your body can maximise its power of self-healing is to ensure it gets enough sleep. If you’re like the vast majority of people, you often sacrifice sleep for your to-do list. You’ll get through your to do list easier if you’ve had enough sleep.

Less sleep equals less ability to deal with physical and mental stress.  Sleep doesn’t just help your body rest; it helps your brain take on some important maintenance tasks as well.

If you’re feeling generally run down, it might be prudent to look at your sleeping habits.

  • Do you regularly get less than 7 hours of sleep at night?
  • Do you try to play “catch-up” on the weekends to make up for lost sleep?
  • Do you struggle to get up in the morning and hit the “snooze” button far too often?

You might not be getting enough sleep and might not be getting enough sleep cycles each night. Sleep isn’t just one long continuous period of rest. Sleep stages include:  transition into sleep, sleeping lightly, deeper sleep, and REM sleep stages.  Your body doesn’t just need to have a single instance of each stage per night. In fact, you’ll go through several sleep cycles each night — which is necessary for restful and restorative sleep. Too few hours equals too few sleep cycles.

Make Sleep a Priority

Making sleep a priority is important. A lot of people don’t do this and suffer from lack of restorative sleep. Some don’t allow themselves enough sleep and others have trouble getting enough sleep.

Having trouble sleeping?

Lack of sleep can happen for a number of reasons and it can create a bit of a vicious cycle where you begin to suffer from health problems that make sleep even more difficult.

Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Establish a bedtime routine. Your body will become accustomed to it and you’ll start to find sleeping and waking up at scheduled times easier.  Follow your bedtime routine on weekends, too, especially when first starting this new regimen.
  2. Eliminate bad nighttime habits, such as eating junk food and drinking caffeine.
  3. Make a to-do list at night for the next day. Do this well in advance of bedtime routines so that you won’t start to think about things once your head hits the pillow.
  4. Make sure you’re sleeping ergonomically. If you’ve got a lumpy mattress, a drafty bedroom, a lot of noise to content with, or other disturbances, perhaps it’s time to do a Feng Shui, of sorts, to make your sleeping area an oasis that helps lull you to sleep.
  5. Aches and pains keeping you up or waking you up in the middle of the night, robbing you of precious sleep cycles?  Make an appointment for a physical. If you haven’t had a physical checkup lately, there could be  physical reasons why you’re having trouble sleeping. Consider making an appointment with the osteopath. Contact Peter Green  Osteopath if you’re looking for a Bondi Junction or Sydney Osteopath. Get help with back pain, neck pain, repetitive strain injuries, sciatica, and other problems that could make a positive difference.

“Sweet Dreams” is a kind greeting to give to others. And when you learn how important your sleep cycles are, you’ll know that sweet dreams aren’t just nice; they’re vital for overall health and wellness.

Too much fructose is bad for you

Overload of the liver from excessive fructose intake. Fructose acts like alchol in our body’s metablic pathways. Too much fructose can be a hindrance… see this lecture from a world renowned Paediatrician from UCLA

Check out this clip here for a serious lecture on this matter.

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.

7 Tips for Healthy Eating

The pace of our lives often leads to poor eating habits and poor diet.

Here are a few tips for you to consider when eating… remember we do become what we eat.

So no 1) look at your lifestyle and what you enjoy … try and find ways to eat healthily in ways that suit your likes and lifestyle. Making  a few small changes in the way you do things can add up to a big total at the end of the year.. small changes don’t feel like a sacrifice and yet “eating 200 calories less a day can mean 20 pounds of weightloss in a year”

2) Dont just focus on the meat and add a few boring veges on the side; Find interesting flavours to add to your vegetables. You will need to add more vegetables to your diet. It has been found that people eat the same weight of food but not the same calories, so fill up with more veges and go online to ind interesting ways to cook them.

3) Eat less meat. Eat more grains, nuts & seeds together with non-starchy vegetables & fruit – not only is this good for your health but also for the planet. For a little bit of that check the group that Paul McCartney got started at www.meatfreemonday.com

4) Separate your fats. Not all fats affect the body equally. polyunsaturated & monosaturated fats are the ‘good’ fats. They dont raise cholesterol & even help in reducing cardiovascular disease. These are found in nuts, vegetable oils & fish oils.

Saturated fats are the ‘bad’ fats found more in dairy and beef products, palm & coconut oils.

5) Decrease your portion size. The best advice here is to finish eating before you feel full. You will have eaten enough and will not feel that bloated over-eaten feeling 20 minutes after a meal.

6) Eat, don’t drink your calories. Fluid does not fill you up in the same way that food does. The best drink you can have is water.

7) Limit packaged food. Eat more fresh food and avoid the heavily processed packaged food.

To read a little more on each of these eating tips, check out the full article  here and bon apetit

Living Longer Better

More and more of us are getting older…… much older. The fastest growing population group in Australia now is those over 85 and by the year 2020, this group is expected to triple.

This post is a little tangential from  Osteopathy and osteopathic practice per se,  but is certainly an important one in regard to our own health and wellness.

With the huge amounts of money being invested into stem cell  and telomere research ( for those of you who don’t know about this …. telomere’s are segments of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes. Every time a cell divides, its telomeres get shorter, and once a cell runs out of telomeres, it can’t reproduce anymore and dies. But there’s an enzyme called telomerase that reverses this process; it’s one of the reasons cancer cells live so long. So why not treat regular non-cancerous cells with telomerase? In November, researchers at Harvard Medical School announced in Nature that they had done just that. They administered telomerase to a group of mice suffering from age-related degeneration. The damage went away. The mice didn’t just get better; they got younger ) …. it appears that in the not too distant future we will all be living longer, and equally as importantly, vitally.

In the meantime, we are already living longer but those of you with aging parents or grandparents know that there are huge problems with aging and morbidity.

Many people who I talk to opine that they don’t necessarily want to live forever but they want to live healthily and vitally for as long as possible and then go quickly and with dignity when their time comes ….

So it appears that we are going to live longer, and until these great scientific advances become reality for us in the evryday,  we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to ensure that our lives remain vital for as long as possible?

I am gonna recommend a new Facebook group to you which produces regular updates on the latest information and tips for vitality and health as you age.  So go to your Facebook page and search and ‘like’ the page “Live Until At Least 120″.

Understand the latest information which will help slow down your aging process and help increase your vitality as you do age.

If you’re not on Facebook …. maybe its time you considered it …. taking on new mental challenges and new ideas is one of the actions you can take to help you live longer better.