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Improve the Quality of your Sleep

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Charles Czeisler at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, suggests that there are three important components to a quality sleep.

They are, how much you sleep, how well and when. The quality of this sleep is a more difficult entity to nail down. Czeisler suggests there are a few tangibles that can be manipulated to ensure a higher quality of sleep.

Studies have shown that a task as simple as taking a bath before bed, can create an effect that allows the person to release more heat, which provides a cooling effect. This was beneficial for people with sleep disorders, and reduced the number of awakenings during the night.

The time that we go to bed can strongly effect our quality of sleep. The more sleep cycles we go through, the longer the duration of REM sleep is. REM sleep is important for sorting through the events of your day and may play a role in brain development. Most REM sleep occurs in the hours before we wake up. This is why when we have to wake up at the crack of dawn we feel groggy. We have given up our last two hours of sleep and deprived ourselves of some quality REM sleep.

Czeisler suggests that these REM cycles are not just how long we have been asleep but also the time of day. He also studied the effects of blue-light (iPad) compared to a printed book had on the person’s sleep patterns. He found that the sleep cycle would begin later, which means the REM cycle shifted to a later time.

A few days of use of electronic devices before bed pushed their cycle later, not leaving enough time for REM sleep. Remove any noise distractions, take a relaxing bath and get off your technology at least two hours before bed.

Article adapted from Tiffany O'Callaghan at New Scientist for Synaptic Sleep Blog. Read more here.


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