All About Sleep
Sleep helps most of your body’s systems restore themselves. Sleep leads to improved performance, better immunity and improved cognition.
Positive effects of sleep include:
- Better immunity
- Improved cognition
- More energy
- Reduced stress
The negative effects of sleep deprivation result in the body releasing Cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body when stressed. Cortisol leads to inflammation and a weakened immune system among other things.
Negative effects of sleep deprivation include:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Weight gain
- Decreased performance
- Impaired cognition
Tips for Better Sleep
Improving your sleeping habits, will lead to better health and a longer lifespan. Here are some tips to hack your sleeping habits:
- Strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Track your sleeping habits.
- Go to bed based on your [Circadian Rhythm ].
- Avoid electronics 60 minutes before going to bed.
- Avoid alcohol at least 90 minutes before bed.
- Avoid caffeine 9 hours before going to bed.
- Avoid taking vitamin D at night, as it interferes with the production of Melatonin.
- Stay away from pharmaceutical sleeping aids.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, then proceed to the following tips:
- Taurine (200-500mg)
- Melatonin 3mg (use as a last resort)
- 5-HTP 200mg (use as a last resort)
The Stages of Sleep
Sleep progresses through 5 stages in a cyclical manner. The stages fall under to categories: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). The entire sleep cycle takes approximately 90 minutes and it repeats 4-6 times.
Four of the five stages reside in the non-rapid eye movement cycle which are named N1-N3. Deep sleep (N3) is more pronounced and occurs more frequently earlier in the night. REM sleep takes up more of the sleep cycle as the night progresses.
- Pre-sleep is the period of decreased perceptual awareness where brain activity is characterized by alpha waves.
- N1 is characterized by light sleep and lasts roughly 10 minutes. Brain waves gradually transition to theta waves.
- N2 – Light sleep, with little movement and quiet breathing. Lasts 20-30 minutes. Motor skills are improved in this phase.
- N3 – This stage is known as deep sleep. Brain activity transitions to delta waves. Muscles are completely relaxed and the pulse, body temperature and blood pressure decrease. Anabolic effects such as the production of human growth hormone takes placed in this stage. This stage lasts 30-40 minutes. This is the phase where your body rebuilds itself.
- REM sleep – known as active sleep. Brain wave patterns are similar to those seen in relaxed wakefulness. Most dreaming occurs in this stage. During REM sleep, the brain is awake, but the body is asleep. First REM stage of the night lasts about 10 minutes, while later stages last approximately 30 minutes. Neurogenesis occurs in this stage. Not attaining REM sleep leads to irritability, fatigue, poor focus and memory loss. This is the stage where your brain rebuilds itself.
Your goal should be to maximize deep sleep and REM sleep by going through at least 3 cycles of the sleep stages. By improving your sleep, you will improve your cognitive performance and your ability to learn. The first step in improving your sleep is to track your sleep patterns using an app such as Sleep Cycle. By tracking your sleep patterns, you will be able to establish a feedback loop to help improve the quality of your sleep.