The amount of sleep necessary for good health varies tremendously from person to person. Eight hours each night appears to be the average, but the real test is how you feel.
If you are truly rested in the morning and have sufficient energy to carry on the day’s activities, your sleeping pattern is providing all you need. If not, chronic fatigue may accumulate and contribute to what can become a serious illness.
Some men and women find that they can get along on fewer than eight hours of sleeps a night as they grow older. But if you are concerned that you are really not getting enough sleep, discuss it with your doctor. It is altogether possible that you are getting less sleep because you need less.
However, if you need more sleep and you can’t seem to get it, then you are suffering from an inability to sleep which is known as Insomnia.
Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to sleep restfully. Insomnia is a problem to everyone at one time or another.
Just about everyone has difficulty falling asleep now and then. Sometimes the enthusiasm of planning a vacation, starting a new job or project can be responsible—daydreams far to fascinating to be abandoned for something mundane as sleep!
Such causes are easy to recognize. But some people, chronic insomniacs, lie awake tossing and turning for hours night after night with no idea why sleep eludes them. As a result, they grow sluggish and fretful. If you are one of these individuals, the following questions may help you to help yourself:
1.How much sleep do you need? Some people particularly those who find the routine of their lives boring, try to sleep more than necessary. While it is true that many people need eight hours of sleep, some people require as little as five or six hours, and a great many require no more than seven. If you need no more than five to seven hours, but insist on going to bed at 10pm and awakening at 7am, you will understandably have at least two hours of wakefulness. Probably, you will be awake even longer than that, for you will make yourself tense by trying to force yourself to sleep
2. Are you too tired to sleep? It’s hard to relax if you are, and relaxation must precede sleep. Try not to overdo things during the day. Even more important, slow down as evening approaches
3. Is there a physical cause for your inability to sleep? Poor sleeping conditions, such as noise, light or someone moving around, may make it impossible to sleep well
4. Do you drink too much coffee, tea or cola? Caffeine in these beverages keeps some people awake. Do you eat heavy meals before bedtime and toss around because of gas and ‘indigestion’ or drink fluids that make your bladder feel distended? Have you any illness or nuisance ailment causing pains or discomfort?
5. Is there any emotional cause for your insomnia? Problems, worries and fear—real or imaginary—will make you tense, whether you are conscious of them or not. They may also cause nightmares that make you resist the idea of going to sleep.
1.Do not be afraid of staying awake. Many people can simply relax or doze and be perfectly rested the next day. Most persons suffering from insomnia actually sleep more than they think they do
2. Make the two hours before you go to bed peaceful ones
3. Go to bed half an hour to an hour sooner than you expect to go to sleep. Read something soothing until you feed drowsy. Then turn off the light
4. Relax physically. Try to let your muscles ‘go’. Some people take warm baths because heat helps muscles to relax; others drink warm milk or eat a light snack to induce relaxation. Another good way to encourage release of muscle tension is exercise—not immediately before retiring, but a few hours before
5. Relax mentally. Try to find something soothing to think about when you start courting sleep
6. If you do not go to sleep, and lying quietly disturbs rather than relaxes you, begin again by reading for a while or listening to soothing music
7. Sometimes you can trick your mind into seeking sleep as an escape. If you cannot sleep, you might force yourself out of bed and begin doing something you simply hate to do: read an utterly boring book, shampoo the rug, was dirty plates etc. Soon enough you will find yourself falling asleep against your will—as an escape
If none of these helps after a few days of experimenting, it is time to see your doctor.
There are four main stages of sleep; the first two correspond to light or paradoxical sleep, and stages three and four occur during deep or orthodox sleep.
Regular swings from light to deep sleep occur during the night. These different sleep stages are probably brought about by chemical processes in the brain, which first suppress the activity of the brain center controlling wakefulness and then induce sleep.
Each type of sleep shows changes in the pattern of brain waves, which can be recorded by an electroencephalograph (EEG) machine.
In orthodox sleep, for example, the brain produces large, slow waves. At this point, muscles are relaxed, breathing is even and temperature and blood pressure are low.
During paradoxical sleep, brain activity speeds up. There are rapid eye movements, which give this type of sleep its other name—REM sleep. At the same time, body muscles move, although neck muscles are slack. Pulse and blood pressure become irregular, and dreaming occurs during REM sleep. As the hours pass, the periods of REM sleep increase and dreams become longer and more bizarre.
When the eyes are shut before sleep, brain waves registered by the EEG trace show the pattern of relaxation
These waves become small and irregular as the sleeper drifts into a state of drowsiness or stage one sleep. The descent into stage two sleep is marked by body movement and eye rolling. At stage three, the waves become slower.
This type of sleep is also known as ‘delta’ sleep because of the large, slow waves recorded by the EEG.
During deep sleep, the muscles are relaxed, breathing is even and body temperature and blood pressure are down. At this time the sleeper is most likely to change position. Sleepwalking, if it occurs, takes place during this stage. The sleeper is oblivious to sounds
After deep sleep, a person returns to stage two sleep. At this stage the eyes flicker in a jerky but coordinated way giving this form of sleep the name REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The brain waves recorded by the EEG are short and erratic.
Heart rate and blood pressure are irregular, and oxygen consumption increases. Body muscles move, as though preparing for action. Dreaming occurs at this stage
Most adults wake up after a night’s sleep of seven to eight hours. If waking up occurs during the REM stage of sleep, the person can recall dreams in vivid details. But five minutes after the dream period is over, recall is sketchy. Ten minutes after the REM stage of sleep, nothing at all is recalled.
Reader’s Digest Family Health and Medical Encyclopedia: The Nuisance Ailments
Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society
A Rare Mutation of β 1-Adrenergic Receptor Affects Sleep/Wake Behaviors by Guangsen Shi, Lijuan Xing, David Wu et all
Effect of Music Therapy on Sleep Quality by Mehtap Kavurmaci, Nuray Dayapoğlu and Mehtap Tan