Sleep is a restorative process that humans go through. It is not a passive process where our bodies turn off for the night. Many important physiological occur during sleep, such as the processing of experiences and the consolidation of memories.
In the Bible, sleep is an important part of renewal.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Sleep health is an important aspect of life. Sleep disorders occur when you get poor sleep, and sleep deprivation is tied to physical and emotional problems. Getting healthy sleep and establishing healthy sleeping habits is a great way to increase your quality of sleep and decreasing your chances of getting neurological disorders.
We've come a long way to understanding sleep's role in our everyday lives. Our bodies have an internal circadian rhythm that helps us wake up and fall asleep. The circadian rhythm helps us manage our sleep-wake cycle. Our brains look for signals in our environment to regulate our biological clock. When our circadian rhythms get disrupted, we may experience excessive daytime sleepiness or feeling awake at night. This also disrupts the production of melatonin and human growth hormones, which are released through the sleep process.
Think of a person experiencing jet lag. If you traveled from Los Angeles to Paris, your body is still operating in different time zones. It may take a couple of days to readjust your biological clock to Paris time.
Sleep studies recently have found evidence that genetics plays a role in sleep. A gene called DEC2 is currently investigated for its role in people needing less sleep. We are learning more about how genetics play in sleep every day.
Stages of sleep
Sleep is compromised of two main states: rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Disruptions in parts or the whole sleep cycle may cause various types of sleep disorders. Here is a breakdown of both states:
This stage of sleep composes of roughly 20-25% of total sleep time. REM sleep usually occurs in the latter portion of the night. This stage is characterized by rapid eye movements. During REM sleep, brain waves had a fast frequency and low voltage, which is similar to our waking brain state. There is also inactivity of voluntary muscles in the body. Most people awakened in the stage reported being dreaming at the time. In infants, REM sleep composes up to 40% of total sleep. Some studies suggested that REM sleep is required for the preservation of memories and creating neurological connections.
There are 3 stages of NREM sleep: N1, N2, N3.
N1 sleep (light sleep): This is the transition period from wakefulness to sleep. This is usually termed as light sleep, as people may not perceive themselves as sleeping during this phase.
N2 sleep (true sleep): Composing of 40-50% of total sleep time, this sleep stage is usually termed as true sleep.
N3 sleep (deep sleep): This stage is referred to as deep sleep. Other names include delta sleep or slow-wave sleep. Deep sleep composes 20% of sleep for young adults. The largest amount of deep sleep occurs in the first half of the night.
How much sleep is necessary?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, you should maintain the same waking time and bedtime every day, even on the weekends. This will help you regulate your body's internal clock. The amount of sleep necessary is dependent upon the individual.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends:
7 to 9 hours of sleep on average for most adults.
Newborn babies sleep for 16 to 18 hours a day
Toddlers should sleep for 10 to 12 hours a day.
Teenagers should sleep for about 9 hours a day.
Changes in sleep cycles occur with aging. Deep sleep (N3) tends to decreases as people get older and light sleep (N1) tends to increase.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation
When you are in sleep debt, you will feel excessive sleepiness during the daytime. People who suffer from sleep deprivation will often micro-sleep. This will cause them to experience short bursts of sleep during the waking state.
Sleep deprivation will amplify the effects of alcohol. Stimulants such as caffeine will not overcome the drowsiness of sleep debt.
Sleep disorders cause disruptions to your sleep quality. Here is a list of the most common type of sleep disorders and their medical conditions:
Restless leg syndrome:
This is a sleep disorder that causes an uncontrollable desire to move the legs at night. During the early stages of sleep, these leg movements may last up to an hour. Some common sensations of restless leg syndrome are crawling, pulling, tingling, or prickly. People struggling with restless leg syndrome may have a hard time falling asleep and getting relaxed due to their restless legs.
This is a common disorder that affects 9% of women and 24% of men. Sleep apnea disrupts and pauses your breathing during sleep. Central sleep apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain doesn't signal to the muscle to breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the airways are obstructed and prevents air from flowing through. Mixed sleep apnea is a blend of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
This is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Insomnia is very common and affects 30% of the general population. Sleep onset insomnia occurs at the beginning of bedtime and lasts longer than 30 minutes. Sleep maintenance insomnia occurs periodically throughout sleep. Insomnia prevents a person from getting a good night’s sleep.
Improving quality sleep
Improving your sleep quality is essential to improving the quality of your life. Some helpful tips are:
Improve your sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed. These things cause sleep quality to decrease significantly.
Maintain a comfortable bedroom environment without exposure to light sources, sounds, and stimulations. Be in a relaxing environment helps you improve your sleep quality over your hours of sleep.
Avoid smart devices before sleep time, as they emit blue lights that will trick your brain into thinking it's still day time.
Setting a comfortable temperature in your bedroom. This will help keep a comfortable body temperature to lure you into a comforting sleep.
Meditation. Testimonio helps with Christian meditation to help clear your mind and lean on God for comfort. Meditation ignites the parasympathetic nervous systems, helping you relax and fall asleep.
For more guidance, read our post on How to Sleep Well to learn how to improve your quality of sleep.
Sleeping well with Christian meditation
Testimonio provides a number of ways to help you sleep better:
Breathing exercises: Regulate your breathing and eventually slowing it down to tell your body that it's time for sleep.
Mindful body scanning: Notice your breath and places where your body is touching the bed. You can think of it as switching off your body part by part.
Gratitude: Being in a mindset of appreciation and love helps you be in a positive mindset to fall asleep.
Visualizations: Imagine a scene of pure bliss and comfort that takes you into a mental state that relaxes your body and mind.
Scripture verses: Nothing more powerful than the power of the Bible to help you trust God and sleep better.