sleep

Improve your sleep quality by waking up naturally

Saturday, March 17, 2012 by: Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D.
Tags: sleep quality, waking up, ambient light

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(NaturalNews) Man, it seems, was never meant to be woken abruptly, in darkness, by loud, sudden buzzing, beeping and/or siren-type noises. Rather, our ancestors woke naturally, and gently, each day with the rising of the sun.

There are different levels of sleep, with the deeper levels (Deep Sleep and REM sleep) being utilized for repairing and rejuvenating your body. The human body is designed to wake up during light sleep, either before entering this repair stage such as during a quick nap, or after the deep sleep and REM stages when your body has been repaired and you have returned to a light sleep.
Waking up during deep sleep leaves you very groggy, very tired, and only partially recovered from the strain and stress of the previous day. This can be felt throughout the day as a sort of hazy fog and sore, tired muscles.

Sleep is not just a single thing that happens to you at night. There are 5 stages of sleep and over the course of a night's sleep, you cycle through these stages, with each sleep cycle taking approximately 90 minutes. Stages 1 and 2 are considered "light" sleep, while stages 3 and 4 are "deep" sleep. The 5th stage is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when you dream. When you wake up during "light" sleep, you wake up rested and feeling good. Conversely, when you wake up during "deep" sleep, you feel groggy and are more tempted to hit the snooze button.

The traditional alarm clock has a set time to wake you up, but you could be in any stage of sleep when that happens. Nature did not intend for us to wake up during "deep" sleep.

In a study conducted by the National Institute of Industrial Health in Japan, participants who were suddenly forced awake had higher blood pressure and heart rate than those allowed to wake up in their own time.

Alarms can also add to your overall stress levels. The sudden noise triggers the body's protective 'fight or flight' response, pumping up your adrenaline levels. While this might be useful to get you to work on time, if this activated state persists over days, weeks and months, it can lead to chronic stress.

Scientists found that when people were woken during deep sleep, this affected short-term memory, cognitive abilities and even counting skills, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year.

Waking up naturally is far gentler on the body. Teach yourself to wake up on time by priming your body's internal clock - stick to a regular bedtime routine and train yourself to wake at a certain time.

Go to bed at the same time every night and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. No alarm clocks! If you continue to keep the same bedtime and wake up naturally, you'll eventually dig your way out of fatigue and arrive at the sleep schedule that's ideal for you.

About the author:
Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D., is a socially engaged philosopher and cultural sustainability advocate. Her new book, The Good Life: How to Create a Sustainable and Fulfilling Lifestyle explores critical issues from this perspective. At the end of each chapter is a list of things that you can do to create a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle. For more information: http://www.sherryackerman.com

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