Brian Keane explains how understanding your sleeping pattern can boost your energy, improve your will power and benefit your general health.
In a study by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in three adults do not obtain the recommended hours of sleep. According to the NHS, not sleeping enough can lead to immune system problems, weight gain and mood disorders in extreme cases.
Sleep perchance to dream
We’ve all been told we need to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, but why is this?
Our bodies benefit from rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the dream state we enter while sleeping. This usually occurs 90 minutes after the onset of sleep or 30 minutes if someone is sleep deprived.
Brian explains that we have about four or more REM periods per night, in 90 minute cycles. This is why if you sleep for seven and a half hours and wake up, you feel more refreshed as you have finished that ‘cycle’ and your body finds it easier to wake up. If you wake up after 10 hours, you’re mid-way through a cycle, which is why you feel tired and need a ‘kick’ just to get going the next morning.
“As someone who has been a notoriously poor sleeper, I understand how poor-quality sleep can affect people’s everyday lives. It can affect everything from your energy levels to your will power. We waste time falling asleep and spend hours in a light sleep state, which doesn’t have the same body and brain boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep. Your sleep quality is more beneficial than your sleep quantity,” he explains.
Given that sleep is an essential way of resting, recharging and nourishing both your body and mind, sustained, unbroken sleep and dreaming are part of our lifestyle that determine the quality of our health. There are two simple ways to improve your sleep and fall asleep properly:
Avoiding the ‘second wind’
There is a window from 10:45 PM to 11:00 PM when most people get naturally tired. This window differs a little based on each person or the current season, but it falls in line with the circadian cycle (the biological clock representing changes in our bodies). If you don’t go to sleep, you’ll get a cortisol (a steroid hormone) driven ‘second wind’ that can keep you awake until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM.
If you can stick close to the circadian cycle and get to bed before 11:00 PM, you will wake up feeling more rested than if you get the same amount of sleep starting later.
Switch off your brain
You may feel unable to switch off from feelings of stress, tension and anxiety. As a London primary school teacher, who was running a personal training business on the side, it did become stressful and if I didn’t get enough sleep I wouldn’t be performing at my best.
“One thing that supported me massively was writing down all of the following day’s tasks before I got into my night-time routine. This helped my brain unwind, safe in the knowledge I wouldn’t forget my most important tasks. I still use to this method today to ensure I get the best sleep possible,” says Brian.
“By having knowledge of the tools and tips to help you sleep, you can make a massive difference in your quality of life and in finding out what works best for you and your body. By changing what you do before bed can give you an edge in all other aspects of your life.”
Brian Keane is the author of ‘The Fitness Mindset’. He reveals the best tips and strategies improve your health, lose weight and maintain the mindset to reach your body goals.