The Secret To A Good Night’s Sleep

Quality sleep is an important component of a healthy lifestyle that affects all body systems at once, changing them for the better. But, above all, good sleep affects concentration, mood, energy during the day, and general mental state, which, given the rhythm of modern life, means a lot.

The main function of sleep is the restoration of physical and mental strength, which allows you to adapt to changing conditions of the external and internal environment. Sleep is an alternation of different functional states of the brain, and not a “rest” for the brain, as it was previously thought.

During sleep, brain activity is restructured, which is necessary for processing and consolidating information received during wakefulness, transferring it from temporary to long-term memory.

Sleep phases:

There are five phases of sleep:

From wakefulness to a state of rest, you enter Phase 1. Your eyes are closed and you may not realize that you are already asleep. This lasts for 5-10 minutes.

This is followed by Phase 2, a period of light sleep characterized by spontaneous muscle twitching and general relaxation.

It is followed by Phases 3 and 4, a period of extremely slow brain wave activity.

These phases are “deep sleep” and you will find that it is very difficult to wake someone up during this period. You may have been woken up during this sleep before: you feel “weak” and have difficulty adjusting to the environment.

The 4 phases described above last for 1-2 hours.

Then you move on to the most important one: phase 5, the abode of your dreams. This is REM sleep, which can last from 5 to 30 minutes. Your brain explodes with activity and dreams burst onto the scene. Blood flow to the brain increases. Your muscles are safely immobilized by your brain to prevent you from being physically “active” in your sleep.

Your brain, exploring the areas of the subconscious mind, creates your own inner reality.

This cycle usually occurs 4-5 times per night, and on average, one cycle takes 1.5 hours.

The optimal sleep time is a multiple of one and a half hours. Normal is 6 or 7.5 hours. Some scientists believe that you can sleep for 4.5 hours every day. At the same time, it is necessary to avoid prolonging sleep for 10-15 minutes, because the brain can switch to another sleep cycle and you will want to sleep more. It’s better to set the alarm so that you have to walk a few steps to turn it off. Or put on a very loud melody that makes it impossible to sleep.

Sleep hygiene:

  1. The best way to ensure a good night’s sleep is to follow your sleep schedule exactly. In particular, try to get up at the same time, regardless of how much you slept.
  2. Physical activity is considered to be one of the most effective anti-stress agents. The best time to exercise is from 5 to 8 p.m., but in any case, you should stop exercising at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
  3. Ventilate the bedroom. The air in the bedroom should be fresh and slightly cool, and the room itself should be dark and without sources of bright white light (for example, energy-saving lamps).
  4. The habit of lying in bed with a laptop before going to bed or having a TV in the bedroom is the main cause of chronic insomnia.
  5. Invest in a mattress. Since we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it’s extremely important to make the most of this time. Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed with an old, squashed mattress is much less restorative.
  6. Choose the right pillow. The main criterion for choosing a pillow is your preferred sleeping position. If you sleep on your back, then a thin pillow will suit you, if on your side – a higher one. However, the pillow itself should be made of synthetic materials, as natural fluff accumulates dust and bacteria.

What is the best sleeping position?

The best sleeping position is the fetal position. You simply curl up, press your legs together, touching your stomach with them, and fall asleep.

Do you have a habit of folding your palms into a boat and “placing” them under your head? This habit helps to relieve tension. The “boat of palms” will help you calm down. It is advisable, of course, to “change” sides during sleep.

The role of melatonin in sleep regulation:

The activity of hormone production begins at about 8 pm, and the peak of its concentration, when melatonin is produced in large quantities, occurs after midnight and before 4 am. Therefore, it is very important to sleep in a dark room during these hours. The adult body synthesizes about 30 mcg of melatonin daily.

To increase the level of melatonin produced naturally, you need to follow a few important rules:

  1. Try to go to bed before 12 am.
  2. If there is a need to stay awake after 12 am, make sure the lights are dimmed.
  3. Before going to bed, turn off all light sources and close the curtains tightly.
  4. If it is impossible to turn off the light, use a sleeping mask.
  5. When waking up at night, do not turn on the light, but use a nightlight.

Speaking of foods that contain melatonin in its finished form, we should definitely mention corn, bananas, tomatoes, rice, carrots, radishes, figs, parsley, oatmeal, nuts, barley, and raisins.

What foods should I eat before bed?

Foods are rich in tryptophan. An interesting fact is that tryptophan levels affect serotonin levels in the body. And serotonin, the hormone of pleasure, has a significant impact on appetite, mood, and sleep. This means that if you eat foods rich in tryptophan before bed, you can improve the quality of your sleep: turkey, soybeans, and pumpkin seeds.

Foods are rich in magnesium. Foods that contain large amounts of magnesium, such as dark green leafy vegetables or avocados, are the same natural remedies that help you fall asleep. Magnesium has been shown to improve the quality of sleep in older adults (sleep duration and ability to wake up easily) who suffer from insomnia.

A small portion of fast carbohydrates will ensure the production of serotonin, a hormone that calms the nervous system and causes drowsiness. Any foods with a high glycemic index, but in small quantities (35-50 g of carbohydrates) and that fit into your daily calorie intake are suitable: honey, sweet pastries, bananas, kiwi, sweet milk, or sweet tea.

Food that steals sleep:

Caffeine. It won’t come as news that caffeine interferes with healthy sleep, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. Reduce your daily caffeine intake to 200-300 mg. And most importantly, don’t drink it before bed. Remember that caffeine is found not only in espresso or latte, but also in chocolate, energy drinks, and tea.

Alcohol. Of course, a glass (or two) of red wine at night can be accompanied by drowsiness, but drinking more alcohol can disrupt your sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, don’t drink more than one glass of light alcoholic beverages a day.

Fatty foods. Fatty foods, such as chips, fried foods, or ice cream, are bad for sleep quality. The fact is that fat takes a long time to digest, which means that the body is working all this time instead of resting.

What herbs are used to make soothing tea?

Soothing teas are made from roots and herbs that have a sedative effect on the body. You can choose any of them to your liking, or collect your own collection from different plants: valerian, motherwort, St. John’s wort, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender, and green tea.

It must be remembered that each organism is individual and has its own biorhythms, so you need to listen to it.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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