Health & Wellness Magazine Live + Thrive Magazine - Summer 2018 - Page 25

Hacking Your Sleep: Make it Quality over Quantity THE FEELING of being groggy, tired, and just plain exhausted can make it hard to get through the day. But before you blame it on not getting enough hours under the sheets last night, you might want to have a rethink. The key to feeling as revitalized as possible is to maximize the amount of REM sleep you get—and this doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping for longer. Getting More REM Sleep Although the amount of sleep you get undoubtedly has some impact, studies show that the quality of the sleep is even more important. Here’s a look at why the quality of sleep is so important and what you can do to improve it. Understanding the Mechanics of Sleep Most people have seen the zombie-like state of new parents who are struggling along without sufficient sleep. However, in many cases, it’s not the amount of time that’s the problem but the number of sleep interruptions they have. Lots of new parents manage to grab naps, and over the course of a day, this can add up to a reasonable amount of sleep. The problem comes because each little doze isn’t sufficiently long for the individual to enter into rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is the deepest level of sleep and what’s needed to feel truly rested upon wakening. Being asleep isn’t enough to get your body to slip into the all-important REM state. You have to give yourself a bit of a helping hand. You’ve probably heard it all before, but switching off your screen for a while before you hit the sack really will help. Too much bright light tricks the brain into thinking that it’s not yet nighttime, so when you do drift off, it will take longer to fall into a deep and refreshing sleep. This means it’s also a good idea to block out any disturbing lights in your room. Wear an eye mask if necessary and you’ll feel the benefit. Other factors include getting comfortable, so make sure your mattress is still in good shape and the room temperature is right for you. If you’re not feeling relaxed physically, it makes it much harder for your brain to reach REM sleep. Don’t Try to Catch Up on Sleep When you’ve had a long week and have struggled to get enough sleep, you might be tempted to sleep in later on the weekend. However, if you’re trying to improve the quality of your sleep, this could actually be detrimental. It’s easier for your body to fall into REM sleep when you have a pattern: roughly the same sleeping and waking time every day. Extending your sleep by a couple of hours will have a similar effect to jetlag, leaving you feeling more lethargic and drowsy than if you’d had less time beneath the sheets. Concentrate on Quality When dealing with sleep challenges, it’s common to focus on how much you’re getting, but if you want to feel more alert, you could need a change of direction. By concentrating instead on the quality of your sleep, you could feel far more revitalized and refreshed even if you’re not getting any more actual hours. 25