Saturday, February 8, 2014

The A to Zzzzz’s of Sleep Problems and Natural Solutions

by P. Gough 
I’m tired! And, to be completely frank, I am tired of being tired too. {My latest complaint leaves me with lots of company though, since there are more than 70 million people in the U.S. alone suffering from chronic, treatable sleep disorders, according studies performed by the National Institute of Health.} I go to bed tired, I wake up tired! This is not a pattern I enjoy, and the longer it lasts the more frustrated I feel.
So, I’ve decided it’s time to do some research… find out more about why this is happening to me, how my body and mind are affected and what I can do to banish this sleep problem once and for all.
In this 5 part series I will take you through the sleep process, show you how it affects you, and how you can improve your sleep.
Part 1: Understanding Sleep! Zzzz Zzzz Zzzz
Part 2: Reasons for Not Sleeping Well
Part 3: The Effects of Sleeplessness & Poor Sleep
Part 4: Natural Remedies to Help You Sleep
Part 5: Quick Tips for Getting Better Sleep
What does good sleep actually mean? Is the quantity of sleep that’s important or is it quality of sleep? What’s REM vs. Non-REM? Who would have thought there were so many questions to something that seems so simple, but to understand how to get good sleep we need to have a basic understanding of what normal sleep actually is.
Sleep is a natural and periodic time of rest during which consciousness of the world is suspended. For most it occurs regularly every 24 hours and there are two main stages or types of sleep – REM and non-REM.
REM (or Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a sleep stage is characterized by rapid movements of the eyes (usually side-to-side) and certain involuntary muscle movements. REM sleep is associated with fast, low voltage brain waves and irregular heart rate and respiration. Dreaming also happens during REM sleep and occurs multiple times throughout the night (usually 5), making up about 1/5 of our sleep.
Non-REM sleep is a sleep state characterized by four distinct stages which range from dozing to deep sleep and is the sleep stage that is most important for preventing daytime fatigue. About 75% of sleep should be spent in non-REM, during which hormones are released into the bloodstream and the body does most of its healing.
The four stages of non-REM sleep
1. Pre-Sleep: Relaxed muscles, slower heart rate and lower body temperature
2. Light Sleep: Still relaxed but can be woken up easily and without confusion
3. Slow Wave Sleep: Even lower body temperature, sleep taking or walking can occur.
4. Deep Slow Wave Sleep: Very sound sleep, hard to wake, confusion occurs if woken up at this stage.
The number of sleep hours each person needs is primarily based on their age and the quality of their sleep. Babies need about 17 hours each day, children 9-10 hours and adults generally require approximately 8 hours. Even though older adults need about the same amount of sleep, as they age they tend to have a single period of deep sleep in the initial 3-4 hours and then sleep lighter and are more prone to wake.
Surprisingly, research shows that throughout any normal night, people wake up for 1-2 minutes every 2 hours or so without actually realizing it. The occasions you do remember are those where the mini wake-ups are accompanied by another factor – snoring, outside noise, bathroom trip, anxiety.
Sleep Tonic™ is a homeopathic remedy reduces sleeplessness associated with insomnia, and increases drowsiness for better sleep
This article is Part 1 in our 5 article series on sleep. For more information on sleep and your health see the following posts:
Part 1: Understanding Sleep
Part 2: Reasons for Not Sleeping Well
Part 3: The Effects of Sleeplessness & Poor Sleep
Part 4: Natural Remedies to Help You Sleep
Part 5: Quick Tips for Getting Better Sleep