(NaturalNews) Recent polls from the National Sleep Foundation show that most Americans are averaging just under seven hours of sleep on weeknights and seven and one-half hours on weekends. Yet sleep researcher Dr. William C. Dement, MD, claimed we live in a "sleep sick nation."
He calls it a "hidden epidemic," because he considers this a major factor toward deteriorating physical and mental health in modern society. This is odd, since according to the hours logged by National Sleep Foundation surveys, sleep durations seem sufficient.
Further exploration has revealed that the quality of sleep, regardless of the quantity, is the prevailing factor for getting the sleep needed to recharge sufficiently.
The first cycle is where daytime normal thought Beta waves are overcome by Theta waves, offering a relaxed light sleep. The second cycle is longer and slightly deeper with what are termed sleep spindles and K-complex waves. Both cycles involve a level of sleep that is easily awakened.
The third phase introduces deep sleep with Delta waves under 50%. This leads to the fourth phase with a further increase in Delta waves. Both the third and fourth sleep cycles are where the most regenerative and immune building processes take place.
Any interruption here sets one back to the first cycle, which may be one reason not enough people get into sufficient third and fourth cycle levels of sleep.
The fifth cycle is the REM (rapid eye movement) phase where most dreaming occurs. Dreaming can act as a relief valve for recent trying events.
If the third and fourth cycles are too light or non-existent you may feel the effects of fogginess and grogginess or anxiety and irritability upon awakening. Even worse, your immune system is gradually being weakened. That's something we can't afford in our toxic environment.
Safe measures to ensure quality sleep
First look to eliminate or minimize electro-magnetic fields (EMF) from your sleep environment. This might require keeping electric clocks and radios away from your head and pulling the plug on your WIFI modem or router.
Some people simply shut everything down by turning off the master circuit breaker every night! Drastic you say? Think about it. You are surrounded with electrical wiring that produces electromagnetic frequencies creating invisible effects on your brain, every hour of every day.
Your bedroom should be on the cool side, around 70 degrees Fahrenheit to replicate the lowered body temperature of sleep cycles three and four.
Another trick is to make your bedroom as dark as possible or use an eye shield. This encourages melatonin production, the hormone that induces sleep. Stimulating your mind late at night on the computer or watching TV inhibits sleep cycles.
If your restless mate or pet interrupts your sleep often, you might consider quarantining yourself if there is an available room. When irregular sounds abound, earplugs can be used.
Don't drink much liquid of any type before bed. This may avoid disruptive bathroom visits. Make your bathroom visit as you head for bed. Avoid caffeine some hours before retiring.
You can look into sleep inducing supplements. The most effective for many is melatonin. But some have issues with melatonin. So valerian could be substituted.
Other supplements that help relax but don't induce sleep directly are highly soluble magnesium powders that fizz with hot water or chamomile tea.
Using sleep deprivation as a method of torture includes leaving on lights and interrupting every few hours. Many of us are practicing self-torture without even knowing it. Instead, the opposite deep-sleep sanctuary should be nurtured for our sanity and health.