The Science of a good night’s sleep

feet sleep

Oh hello! Missed me? I do hope so.

I decided to take a breather to focus on other quests. However, despite the absence, my mind has never left this blog. It’s good to be back!

And speaking of pause, how do you fell when you wake up in the morning? Is your sleep restorative?

I am trying to force myself not only to sleep more but to sleep better. There’s a difference, you know?

There are myriads of online advice, lists and apps to help you have a restful night. Unfortunately, the solution is not simple.

If you are curious, here’s what I am attempting to improve my sleep quality:

I have a schedule… to wake up!

Everyone has different sleep needs but it is recommended that one sleeps 6 to 9 hours a night. But knowing the ideal length of sleep is not just enough, some say.

We sleep in cycles.

Each sleep cycle has a defined pattern of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and REM (rapid eye movement or the dream phase). On adults, the NREM phase takes the big majority (80%) of all sleep and on average each cycle takes around 90 minutes to complete.

The reason for this specific cycling pattern is unknown, but what scientist know is that a good night’s sleep corresponds to about 5 sleep cycles. Plus, the last 2 cycles before the body’s natural awakening have longer REM phases and people awakened during the deep sleep phase wake up more disoriented.

To wake up at the right time, I’ve started to use an app that suggests me when I should try to fall asleep, based on the average sleep cycle. If I wake up the middle of a lighter sleep phase, they claim, I wake up feeling better and more alert.

With the help of simple apps (like sleepyti.me or sleepcalculator), I do not have to lose my sleep (pun intended) counting backwards to decide the ideal time to go to bed and, plus, I have the nudge of Science to stick to it. (There are more complex offers like sleepcycle, if you want to give them a try.)

There are other tricks that I am experimenting with (like going to bed before my partner) since I know that every night is different and that sleep cycles are not always the same length.

The upside of my new bedtime routine is that I am more aware of how complex sleep is and how important it is to respect the body’s needs.

What are your bedtime rituals? Have you measured your sleep pattern? Let me know if you try any of the apps.

Disclosure:  The opinions on this and any post are completely based on my experience and research.

If you want to know more:

Photo credits: Pixabay

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