Posted on: September 2, 2021 Posted by: Aaron_George Comments: 0

It is true that sleep is one of the most important parts of our overall health and well-being. This is where our body rests and regains energy to do the things that we need to accomplish the next day. Feeling rested after a goodnight’s sleep is not the only benefit of sleeping to our body. According to studies, sleep is a complex activity as it affects all systems in our body. It also helps us have better concentration, better emotional responses, avoids depression, lower the risks of heart disease and weight gain, and improves our immune system. 

Our circadian rhythm is responsible for the duration and quality of our sleep. It is the physical, mental and behavioural changes that influence our timekeeping system. Because sleep is vital in getting optimum health, living an active lifestyle and maintaining a balanced diet, you should know how to recognise if you are getting a good quantity and quality of sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, you are getting good quality sleep when you are:

  • Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less after going to bed.
  • Sleeping straight through the night without waking up no more than once.
  • Getting the recommended amount of hours for your age group.
  • Falling back to sleep within 20 minutes if you do wake up.
  • Waking up in the morning feeling rested, restored, and energised. 

To help you with how sleep progress, here are the stages of sleep:

Stage 1: The first stage is a non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. This is the earliest part of sleep where you doze off, which typically occurs one to five minutes after falling asleep.

Stage 2: Like stage 1, the second stage is still a non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. Although you can be easily awoken at this stage, this is where the brain and body activities slow down. 

Stage 3: This stage is considered the deepest stage of non-REM (rap[id eye movement) sleep. This is where your muscles relax, and the brain activity significantly slows down compared to waking brain activity. Deep sleep is believed to be where the body recuperates.

Stage 4: This is the only REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. IN this stage, intense dreaming takes place, and most of the body is experiencing paralysis except for the eyes and breathing muscles. REM sleep is considered to be the essential part of sleep that benefits the brain.

Here are the ideal hours of sleep per age bracket according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Newborn (0–3 months): 14–17 hours; 
  • Infant (4–12 months): 12–16 hours, including naps;
  • Toddler (1–2 years): 11–14 hours, including naps;
  • Preschool (3–5 years): 10–13 hours, including naps;
  • School Age (6-12 years): 9–12 hours; 
  • Teen (13-18 years): 8–10 hours; 
  • Adult (18- 60 above): 7 or more hours. 

When some of these criteria are not met, it may mean that you are not getting enough rest. While younger people are able to achieve their ideal quantity and quality of sleep, adults often neglect it resulting in disturbance in their circadian rhythm. And because of this, different kinds of sleep disorders.

Signs that you may have a sleep disorder:

  • Having trouble falling or remaining asleep.
  • Experiencing excessive sleepiness and finding it difficult to stay awake during the day.
  • There are imbalances in your circadian rhythm that interfere with a healthy sleep schedule.
  • Having increased movement and irregular breathing that disrupt sleep.

Kinds of Sleep Disorders:

Insomnia – This sleep disorder is characterised by having persistent difficulty falling asleep and experiencing trouble to have a consistently long period of good quality sleep. In addition to this, people who suffer from insomnia find it difficult to go back to sleep when they wake up too early, which results in the inability to function well during the daytime. 

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) – Also referred to as Willis Ekbom disease, this sleep disorder presents its symptoms as uncomfortable sensations in the legs, causing patients to move their legs. This disrupts people’s sleep as the symptoms become worse when relaxed or lying down, urging the patient to walk, stretch, or shake their legs to ease the discomfort. 

Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is considered a serious sleep disorder as someone who suffers from this experiences multiple abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. This disorder affects the body’s oxygen supply which may cause potential health consequences. People with sleep apnea have symptoms of gasping for air during sleep, waking up with a dry mouth, morning headache, and feeling tired after a long night sleep.

Supplements That May Help

Aside from pharmaceutical preparations that may help in the management of sleep disorders, some supplements have been reported to give positive benefits. Take note to speak to your doctor before trying any supplements as part of your treatment.

Melatonin – Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone released in our body that is responsible for regulating our sleep-wake cycles. It naturally increases during the night time, making your body relaxed, indicating that it’s time to sleep, and decreases during the day signalling the body to wake up. It is commonly used by people with insomnia and other sleep disorders to help adjust their sleep-wake cycles.

Cannabidiol – This compound is a popular cannabinoid from hemp plants. Unlike THC, CBD is known for its many health benefits without any psychoactive and intoxicating effects. Its therapeutic benefits include anti-anxiety, anti-nausea, pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. But not just that, many people who suffer from insomnia and other sleep problems tend to use CBD oil for sleep. CBD is said to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors in our body. This complex signalling system is responsible for regulatory control in the body, such as immune response, appetite, emotions and sleep, amongst many others. 

Valerian – This flowering plant is also referred to as nature’s Valium. It is commonly used for the management of stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders, especially insomnia. It is said that this plant has sedative and sleep-enhancing properties that affect the brain and the nervous system. 

California Poppy – This herb has been used since early times. It is said to have sedative, hypnotic, analgesic and anodyne properties that may help treat sleep disorders, overexcitement, anxiety, muscle tension and pain. 

Aside from these supplements, there are also some lifestyle changes and remedies that you can do to fall asleep more rapidly and get a restful sleep at night.

  • Try to avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.
  • Maintain a strict sleep schedule. 
  • Naps should be avoided or limited.
  • If taking medications, check if it causes sleepiness or promotes wakefulness.
  • Have an active lifestyle.  
  • Find ways to relax.
  • Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
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