A good night’s sleep goes a long way: Dr. Nina Radcliffe

A good night’s sleep goes a long way: Dr. Nina Radcliffe

Dr. Nina Radcliffe for the press

Alertness, mood, and energy are all related to your sleep. In addition, not getting proper sleep increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, stroke, mental decline, as well as Alzheimer’s dementia.

Getting a good night’s sleep – feeling rested, rejuvenated and refreshed – is about more than just getting the recommended number of hours of sleep. For many years, the focus has been on quantity with little reference to quality. However, quality is important – in fact, it may be even more important – because not all sleep is restored.

Having basic concepts and establishing healthy bedtime habits can give you the amount and quality of sleep you need.

What is restorative sleep? Historically, this term has been in common use, but its definition is poor. New research aims to assess restorative sleep in terms of whether a person is in a good mood, rested, refreshed, energetic, mentally alert and ready to start the day. Or are they frowning, tired, or sleepy?

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When we look at sleep, parameters matter. Previous studies have found that only three in 10 people have trouble sleeping when focusing on quantity (the number of hours), rather than quality. However, if someone wakes up feeling bad, even when their sleep was of the right length, it is important to catch it. New research focusing on quality, or restorative sleep, has revealed that, on average, seven out of ten people need help improving their sleep. By using only quantity, it greatly reduces the problem of insomnia. Given the myriad of problems associated with lack of sleep, this presents a problem.

What happens during the restorative sleep stages?

There is a misconception that when we sleep, it is an opportunity for our mind and body to rest and rest. But in fact, it is time to rebuild and recover. During restorative sleep stages:

Our brain transitions into a housekeeping role that involves removing toxins that build up while awake.

We store new information and discard what is not needed (eg downloading computer data).

Our neurons communicate and reorganize (supporting healthy brain function).

We repair cells in the brain and throughout the body.

Our bodies build bones and muscles.

We strengthen our immune system.

Our bodies produce hormones and proteins.

This complex set of functions does not begin immediately with sleep but does require moving through different stages of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has identified four stages of sleep, each of which varies according to neural activity. The first two stages are characterized by lighter levels of sleep. The last two, most profound stages (one of which is rapid eye movement, rapid eye movement, in which a person dreams) are considered a regenerative process. Our body cycles through these phases every two hours.

Conversely, non-restorative sleep is restless, light, or of poor quality. And while the time and duration of good sleep is important, it’s just as important (if not more) that your body and mind get the restorative rest through the sleep it needs.

Tips to help get restorative sleep

First and foremost, establish and maintain good sleep hygiene – the routines and rituals you undergo before bed.

Stick to a sleep-wake schedule even on weekends, holidays, and rest days. It’s hard for our bodies to adjust properly on Monday or at the end of vacation to school or our work schedule. It can be very disruptive.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Doing so allows you to relax. Most of us don’t have an on/off button when it comes to sleeping. We need to move. Find relaxing activities an hour or so before bedtime so you can fall asleep.

Allow your melatonin to rise by turning off the lights and lowering the power. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that is suppressed by natural sunlight as well as artificial light. This includes light bulbs, televisions, smartphones, laptops, and computers. Make active efforts to stop and respond to texts and emails before bed.

Refrain from naps for a long time and suffer from inactivity. Doing so increases your chances of falling into deep stages of sleep from which it is difficult to wake up. And if you do, you may feel overwhelmed or overwhelmed.

Keep alcohol and caffeine consumption to a minimum. In general, avoid stimulants. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid caffeinated foods, including tea, chocolate and soft drinks — which also contain caffeine. The effects of caffeine can last 3 to 7 hours after ingestion.

Being active earlier in the day (less than 30 minutes a day) can improve the quality of your sleep, as well as your overall health.

Keeping your sleep clean as a top priority, along with a healthy diet, physical activity, avoiding hazardous substances, and stress management is key to an overall healthy life.

Dr. Nina Radcliffe, from Galway Township, is an anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author. Email Dr. Nina questions to editor@pressofac.com with “Dr. Nina” in the subject line.

This article is for general information only and should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions and cannot replace advice from your medical professional.

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