Are you Sleeping Efficiently?

Have you ever felt tired, even after sleeping for nine or ten hours? Sleep is something we do spontaneously and instinctively. Most of us can sleep, but not all of us sleep efficiently.

Since it's such a fundamental part of our health, it's essential to sleep efficiently. Efficient sleep is the time when you're sleeping soundly and not just tossing and turning in bed. Some people might lie in bed for nine hours but only get five hours of actual sleep.
The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase is the most critical part of efficient sleep. It is the sleep period when your brain processes your thoughts and memories, learning and putting them into perspective for you. REM sleep also plays a crucial role in overcoming difficult or traumatic events. So being able to enter the REM stage of sleep is important during times of crisis.
sleepThere are a few strategies to use for getting adequate REM sleep.
Firstly, try to limit your use of the snooze button. Giving yourself an extra hour or half-hour of sleep in the morning is good, but you won't benefit from the extra rest if it's disturbed every 10 minutes by the snooze alarm. Ideally, set your alarm to go off at the latest possible time and allow yourself to get as much sleep as you can.
You should also limit your exposure to artificial light before you go to bed. Artificial light has a negative impact on the release of melatonin as it starts to get dark and can upset the regulation of your sleep cycle. If you read before bed, it is best to use a small reading lamp and not watch TV, look at a tablet or phone or go on the computer within an hour or so of bedtime. 
A good night's sleep impacts your health in many ways. Research has shown that people with low sleep efficiency are 5.5 times more likely to develop a cold than efficient sleepers. Efficient sleep is also essential to assist in the recovery from illness and disease.
For more about sleep and tips on eating and moving well, check out Tim Rath's book Eat, Move, Sleep.
In good health, 
Simon Coghlan
Chartered Physiotherapist
Image by Claudio_Scott from Pixabay 
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