Sleep well?

Each of us likes to sleep…ooooo yeah, definitely this seems to be a favourite activity of most creatures on the Earth. Some of us go to sleep earlier in comfortable beds to get up at the break of day while the others don’t mind the time nor the place, they can sleep everywhere. Would you like to wake up every morning rested and full of energy? As it turned out, the moment that we wake up has a significant influence on that. But wait, wait, first things first.

Although maybe you have never thought about it, the process of falling asleep is quite complex. It consists of several phases. At the beginning, when we go to bed, brain activity falls, the mind calms down and the brain starts to work at the lower frequency alpha – waves, responsible for relaxation. After 5-10 minutes the 1 st phase starts. The brain goes on theta waves. In our mind appear pictures, voices and illogical associations separated from each other. Gradually, we are losing the contact with the reality.

The second phase is also accompanied by theta waves and…we are falling asleep. Our consciousness is turning off. After this phase, we go to the third, transition one, where the brain slows down its work, goes to the delta frequency and it works like this until the end of the fourth phase. This is a deep dream. The state of our body changes. Breath is regular, blood pressure decreases, muscle tension and body temperature falls down. You can finally say that you are resting. If something or someone wakes you up in this phase, you will be very sleepy and distracted, but in the morning you won’t remember that moment.

After 90 minutes since falling asleep we are again in the shallow sleep phase. The heartbeat and the breath is faster. REM (Rapid-Eye Movement) starts. It owes its name to the rapid movement of the eyeballs. Our brain activity is very high and then we have dreams. We are like paralysed – our muscles are stopped. Otherwise, we would do the movements we make in a dream in the bed! I think it could be a bit dangerous ;). If we wake up in this phase, we will remember this dream that we were dreaming for sure. When this phase comes to the end, the brain is beginning the cycle again. This cycle usually lasts about 90 minutes. The continuation of the sleep looks more or less like this: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, REM, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, REM and so on. During a longer sleeping time, proportion of different phases can change.

Thus, the easier way for us to get up is when we wake up between the cycles and the best way is to wake up at the beginning of the new cycle – during the REM phase. The brain activity is very high then, almost like during the day, so it shouldn’t be a challenge for us to get up. After waking up at this moment, we should be fresh and ready to start the new, active day.

Therefore, when we know that one cycle takes up about 90 minutes, we can plan our dream so that its length was a multiple of 90 minutes. You can set up your alarm clock to sleep for example 6 or 7,5 hours plus the time that you need to fall asleep. When you wake up between cycles, you will be rested, full of energy and you won’t be so sleepy. Now, you can see that the feeling of lack of sleep does not necessarily have to depend on the length of your sleep, but mainly on the moment that you wake up! That’s the reason why people who sleep 3 hours feel better that you, even when you slept 10 hours.

Because people differ from each other, some may have got different cycle time. So, let’s try to wake up after 6 hours and find out if you feel less sleepy and more energetic or maybe this is just not the right time for you. If it doesn’t work for you, try to wake up after different number of hours, for example after 6,5 or 5,5 hours. I’ve tried and it works for me so maybe you will try to experiment a bit as well?

Scientists also say that the lack of sleep can have a bad influence not only on our physical well-being but can even cause lower pain threshold, inability to identify people's emotions correctly, propensity for gambling and, of course, it makes our reaction time longer.

I think it's a list that is long enough to convince you to try to change your sleeping habits a little.