Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing
We are often told of the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to stay in shape, both physically and mentally. And rightly so! When sleeping, our breathing, heart rate, muscles and blood pressure slow down, allowing the body to rest and regenerate, replacing dead cells with new ones, thus enhancing the immune system.
As for the brain, it takes advantage of sleep to ‘sort’ the information it has received throughout the day. As a result, poor sleep is synonymous with poor information assimilation. In addition, poor sleep has consequences on concentration and learning. If you sleep badly, or not enough, you will easily be distracted and have more difficulty staying focused on a task. Not to mention, lack of sleep also causes irritability, impatience and fatigue – talk about waking up on the wrong side of the bed!
Does quality sleep mean a more balanced diet?
There is also a strong connection between sleep quality and dietary balance. After a bad night, you’ll feel weak and tend to eat more to compensate for this lack of energy. A lack of sleep can even favour an increase in fat mass. In the body, three hormones manage weight gain: ghrelin stimulates the appetite, leptin refrains it and orexin pushes to eat for pleasure. When the body lacks sleep, the balance between these three hormones collapses. The body increases ghrelin and orexin secretion and reduces leptin secretion. So, poor sleep makes you hungrier!
The different stages of sleep
A night’s sleep is divided into four cycles. Each cycle lasts approximately 90 to 120 minutes. Cycles alternate throughout the night and their importance vary.
- Stage 1: The lightest stage of NREM sleep (non-rapid eye movements). This is when you’re starting to fall asleep. During this stage, you might experience sudden muscle spasms or the sensation of falling. Your body slowly relaxes, and your brain starts to slow down.
- Stage 2: You’re still in a light NREM sleep, but awakenings do not occur as easily as in stage 1. Body temperature begins to decrease and heart rate slows. This stage represents about 45% of your night’s sleep. Your body slowly starts to recover and rest.
- Stage 3: Known as deep NREM sleep. It represents about 25% of the total length of your night’s sleep. This is the most restorative part of your night’s sleep, where the body begins to create hormones and renew its cells.
- Stage 4: The dreaming stage, or REM sleep (rapid eye movement), this name comes from the fact that your eye movement increases, moving from side to side. In this state, your brain is working almost as hard as when you’re awake, while your body remains completely still. This is often where dreams are most likely to occur – REM represents about 25% of your sleep and takes place towards the end of your night’s sleep.
Our tips for a sound night’s sleep
To get a better night’s sleep, it is important to develop good habits and establish what works best for you. We have put together some top tips for a sound night’s sleep to help you drift off peacefully:
Before bed, you need to establish some ground rules:
- Start by establishing a sleeping schedule. This can help you control your internal clock and get into a good routine.
- Avoid heavy meals before bed. Eating stodgy, heavy foods can make you feel very uncomfortable, causing bloating and stomach cramps, which will prevent you from getting to sleep immediately.
- Avoid looking at screens (TV, smartphones, computers, tablets) before going to bed. Blue light tends to slow down the arrival of melatonin, the sleep hormone, preventing you from falling asleep quickly.
To soothe body and mind, follow these pre-bedtime rituals:
- At least 30 minutes before sleep time, spend time practising a relaxing activity such as slow stretches or reading.
- Sip a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea. Hot drinks can provide a warming, comforting feeling which can contribute to a more peaceful sleep. Basil, lavender, chamomile and orange blossom are all flavours to help you achieve a soothing sleep.
- Take a hot bath. The heat of the bath will relax your muscles and soothe your mind. This moment of rest can be very beneficial before getting into bed.
- Put aside any negativity and go to bed with a peaceful mind. You can empty your thoughts by writing down any key events, thoughts and feelings from your day in a diary. This can help you find peace after a hectic day.
- Get lost in a good book for 10 to 15 minutes. This is a quiet activity that will clear your mind and prepare you for sleep.
- Meditate. This exercise is a very efficient method to help you fall asleep quicker. Clear away any bad thoughts, focus on the present moment and allow your mind to switch off. To find out more about the benefits meditation can have on sleep, read our blog here.
Create the perfect environment for sleep:
- Turn your bedroom into a peaceful and quiet environment, favourable to sleep and relaxation.
- Don’t let the outside light interfere with your sleep. Your bedroom must be dark to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
- Your bedroom needs to be warm. Being too hot will make it difficult to fall asleep and will cause you to toss and turn during the night. You also need to keep your bedroom ventilated, as your body and cells need constant aeration and oxygen, so it is important to renew the air in your bedroom. Open your window every night for 5 minutes before going to bed to let the air flow in.
- Finally, your bed is the masterpiece of your bedroom. It is therefore essential to focus on the comfort it can provide you. An uncomfortable bed will interfere with a good night’s sleep. Everyone has different requirements, but we have found the perfect balance – with one single mattress to meet everyone’s needs. Here at idyll, we have a solution for everyone, allowing you to get the best night’s sleep you’ve had in years.