The first step in stress management is getting a good night's sleep, every night.
The goal of sleep therapy is maximizing the benefits attainable from sleep, both as to the duration and quality of sleep. Sleep duration refers to the total number of hours slept each night, while quality of sleep refers to the degree to which one awakens in the morning feeling energized and fully refreshed.
Little is known of the functions, purposes, and mechanisms of sleep, despite the best efforts of scientists. Nevertheless, the importance of sleep to good health should never be underestimated.
As a practical matter, there are only two stages of sleep that any health conscious individual needs to be concerned about: REM (Rapid eye movement sleep) and NREM (Non-rapid eye movement sleep). These two different cycles of sleep, REM and NREM, repeat in normal individuals three or four times a night.
There are a number of different scientific classification systems used to describe the different stages of sleep. The most commonly referred to sleep classification system on the Internet refers to four different stages of NREM sleep (i.e., stages 1 through 4), plus REM sleep is actually out of date.
How To Get A Good Nights Sleep
Stages of Sleep
This refers to stages to 1 through 4 of sleep during which there is relatively little dreaming.
This stage of sleep refers to deep sleep or the stage where it is the hardest to wake someone up.
This stage of sleep has the highest association to dreaming. In addition, this stage accounts for around 25% of the total sleep time experienced by most normal human adults.
An EEG (Electroencephalography) is a way of measuring brain wave activity during sleep. Some people are of the opinion that playing special CD music containing just these specific sound frequencies can induce the stage of sleep most associated with these respective brain waves.
- Alpha waves - frequency of 8–13 Hz (awaken state - relaxation)
- Beta waves - frequency of 12-30 Hz (awaken state - active thinking)
- Delta waves - frequency of 0.5-2 Hz (deep, or slow-wave sleep)
- Theta waves - frequency of 4–7 Hz (first stage of sleep)
The goal of sleep therapy is to sleep soundly through the entire night without interruption, and awake each morning feeling fully restored and refreshed.
- Create a to-do list, one hour before going to bed.
- Sleep the entire night with as little disruption as possible. For the older adult, that means cutting back on drinking a lot of fluids at around 6 in the evening.
- Follow the suggested body clock of normal light–dark cycle patterns.
- Start each day in bright light.
- Avoid bright lights from evening on.
- Try dimming light levels during the evening in preparation for sleep.
- Sleep in a dark room reserved exclusively for sleeping.
- Do NOT turn the light on during bathroom breaks, or use a very low wattage of red light in your bedroom.
- Working graveyard and shift work is extremely bad for your health, and thus should be be avoided whenever possible.
Functions of Sleep
- Dreaming – trying to remember your dreams can be counter productive to getting a good night’s sleep
- Growth and the release of human growth hormone
- Memory retention
- Release of melatonin
- Restoration or body repair and recovery from illness and headaches
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