Originally published February 10 2015
Improve your sleep with these 5 easy tips
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) Sleep consumes around one-third of our lives. At least it should if you wish to be healthy with a strong immune system. But sleep is not just time in bed. The quality of sleep is very important.
Studies at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, Florida, and Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, used brain wave analysis to determine the five stages of sleep and their relative importance.
The five stages cycle through every one to two hours, not over the eight or so hours one sleeps as commonly understood. Two of them are vital for recharging the immune system, and one is vital for unwinding unwanted emotions.
Stage 1: Introduction to sleep is the shortest stage or phase of sleep, which starts again upon awaking from any of the deeper levels of sleep.
Stage 2: This is a little longer than stage 1 but is also a level of light sleep that is easily awakened or disturbed.
Stage 3: Begins the deep sleep period when the immune system gets refreshed the most. The brain patterns switch to mostly delta waves, which are by far the slowest and have the largest amplitude. Delta waves are experienced when one is totally unconscious.
Stage 4: This is a continuation of deep sleep with more delta waves -- thus deeper sleep. Stages 3 and 4 are the immune-bolstering phases. The better your quality of sleep, the longer you stay in those stages.
Stage 5: The REM stage, the stuff of dreams. Dreams can provide some relief from stress and anxiety and help support your emotional health.
5 tips to help you benefit fully from the 5 stages(1) Consuming tart cherry juice delays the degradation of the essential amino acid tryptophan that acts as a precursor to serotonin and facilitates sleep.
Tryptophan degradation is a known predictor of insomnia and is also related to inflammation. Two glasses a day does it, but supplementing tryptophan should do it too.
(2) Turn down the lights -- all the way. Make it as dark as possible and more. Light inhibits melatonin, the sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in the middle of the brain. And, oddly, it's not just through the eyes.
There are multiple levels of light from bright sunlight to light from an open bathroom down a hall, and even clock radios or other electronic equipment emanate levels of light that can impede the pineal gland's production of melatonin.
Adjustable blinds are insufficient. Blackout curtains are recommended for blocking outdoor lighting. If that's too much of a project, there are easier-to-install, less expensive window light blockers available online.
If all else fails, the old-fashioned sleep mask will have to do while inhibiting all minor light sources to minimize light waves that can be absorbed by the skin.
(3) Turn the sound off! Apartment life can be noisy, and even a single family home gets its share of street sounds and barking dogs. Soft insert ear plugs are available at less than five dollars a packet.
Adding the right kind of sound can work also. So-called white noise products produce sounds of waves, birds, static and/or crickets to provide calming noise at a regular pace, nullifying disruptive sounds.
(4) Give yourself fresh air. Lots of plants throughout your dwelling purifies the air of off-gassed trace chemicals and provides oxygen. Place several mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) plants in your bedroom, since they actually release oxygen at night. This adds the health benefits of naturally produced oxygen.
(5) Electronic display screen withdrawal. Computer monitors, kindle reading and iPad displays emit lots of blue light, which is part of the sunlight spectrum that keeps you awake. Try to withdraw from them after dark, or at least an hour or two before retiring.
There is a free downloadable computer product called "f.lux" that changes the monitor's illumination settings to replicate natural lighting, reducing blue light after dark but returning sunlight during the day.
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