Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How We Can Sleep Hard

Some say in order to sleep hard we need to work and play hard. Falling asleep hard is falling into a deep sleep also known as delta sleep. It is referred as delta sleep due to the low frequency delta waves that are present during sleep stages 3 and 4. Delta sleep occurs several times during the night intermingling with the more vivid dream sleep. Since sleep stages were discovered in the 1930’s researches paid more attention to nature of dream sleep or REM sleep and less emphasis on the non-dream state of deep sleep.

[caption id="attachment_499" align="alignright" width="280" caption="How can we sleep hard - Only take 20 minute naps"][/caption]

Deep sleep is the time when you nearly disengage from your environment and it can be difficult to wake up from this stage. In fact, this is the stage when sleepwalking becomes apparent. You may be aroused from deep sleep enough for motor control but not the higher centers to wake you up, so you remain in a sleep state dissociated by motor activity with limited judgment and awareness.

The greatest amount of deep sleep typically occurs in the first cycle of sleep and gradually decreases as the lighter stage 2 sleep and REM increase the closer you get to morning. Deep, hard sleep is effective in decreasing our need for sleep during the day. Some say a short afternoon “power nap” of 20 minutes doesn’t affect night time sleep because there isn’t time to cycle into deep sleep. If a sleep deep stage does occur it will decrease your sleep drive and make it harder for you to fall asleep easy at night.

What happens during deep sleep? Human growth hormone (HGH) is released which promotes cell repair that is necessary especially if you need to recover from weight training. How we can sleep hard? A supplement gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) increases deep sleep and with the increase of deep sleep more HGH is released. Since many misused this supplement as a date rape drug it is now only available by prescription for treatments of sleep disorders like narcolepsy. Getting treatment for sleep disorders is necessary for deep sleep, so if you  find it hard to sleep at night see your doctor or a sleep specialist to determine the cause. Try deep-breathing exercises or meditation as an alternative to prescription sleep aides.

Other benefits of deep, hard sleep it that it may refresh the mind for new learning. If you are wakened out of this stage you may feel sluggish and it may be unsafe to drive. If you do not get enough deep sleep you may be vulnerable to the effects of stress, sleep disruptions, aging and feel tired and run down daily. Falling into a deep sleep or sleep period is thought to be “hard-wired” into our brain. Researchers have a theory that instead of falling asleep as a passive process it may be an active one or an “arousal inhibitory mechanism” that stops us from being conscious.

For every four seconds in delta sleep there is a short burst of activity deep in the brain known as a sleep spindle. This burst interrupts activity in the brain by sending low frequency delta waves to stop RAM from re-activating the brain. Since the spindles occur occasionally, if we need to wake up – we can. Experts consider deep, hard sleep is a kind of “reversible unconsciousness”. If the brain gets damaged by stroke or tumors and we can’t wake if we need to, a person may experience panic attacks and an increased heart rate. Disruption in our sleep/wake cycle can contribute to heart and kidney disease.

At a sleep easy we find that hard work and hard play is not only good for your general health it provides good brain health too. Research on the physical results of thinking and stimulating the brain increases the number of dendritic branches that interconnect brain cells. The more we do things that make us think, the better our brains function – regardless of age.

If playing hard includes a morning exercise routine, you can relieve stress and improve mood which indirectly improves sleep. To get a more direct sleep-promoting benefit from morning exercise, exposure yourself to natural light in the morning. Whether you're exercising or not you can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body's sleep-wake cycle when you get some sun between 6am and 10am.

When it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night's sleep, it's vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening that appears most beneficial. That's because it raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you're getting ready for bed. This decrease in body temperature appears to be a trigger that helps ease you into a deep, hard sleep. If there is no time for exercise taking a hot bath or having a hot cup of decaffeinated tea will also give you the same beneficial effects that promote how we can sleep easy.

The content provided in How We Can Sleep Hard is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for your sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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