6 Steps to Regulate Your Sleep Cycles

by on January 18th, 2011
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A decent night’s sleep is essential for your health. Establishing regular sleep cycles can encourage a restful and rejuvenating night. Normal sleep occurs in four phases: drowsiness, light sleep, moderately deep sleep and deep sleep. These phases typically occur during the course of an eight-hour night. A sleeping person will cycle through these phases several times per night, during which he or she experiences three to five episodes of Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Most dreams take place during REM sleep, which scientists believe may help process the information absorbed during the day. While it is not possible to adjust sleep cycles consciously, people who suffer from insomnia or sleep disorders can take steps to bring about a pleasant night’s sleep.

Step 1

Prepare your bedroom so that it is conducive to sleeping. Although this seems obvious, be sure that your bed is large enough to sleep comfortably by yourself or with a partner, if applicable. Invest in a pair of soft yet supportive pillows and breathable, hypoallergenic bedding to create a peaceful retreat for sleep.

Step 2

Block out noise and exterior light by installing blackout curtains in your bedroom. If you’re hearing noise and it is bothersome, try using earplugs, a white-noise machine or soundproofed windows to keep it down.

Step 3

Regulate the room temperature for a quality night’s sleep. Most people sleep well in a cool, quiet environment with proper ventilation. Use a portable electric fan to cool off your bedroom if it feels stuffy.

Step 4

Develop bedtime habits that encourage restfulness. By reading an absorbing book, listening to soft music or writing in a journal, you can wind down from the day’s activities. Begin the unwinding process about 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep.

Step 5

Avoid too much stimulation just before bed. Don’t eat a substantial meal, exercise, check email, watch late-night TV or drink caffeine. These stimulating activities make it difficult to concentrate on calming down. Instead, eat a healthy snack like peanut butter on whole-grain bread and a glass of milk. Eating a nutritious, high-protein snack before bed can help you fall asleep.

Step 6

Be sure that you get enough time to sleep. Adults need about eight hours per night. It’s also beneficial to sleep and wake at roughly the same times each day; this way, your body becomes used to the pattern and your sleep cycles get regulated. Limit naps during the daytime hours, so you’re likely to feel sleepy at night.

Considerations

Get into some relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga or deep breathing exercises. These activities will help you get a good night’s sleep, as well as keep you feeling relaxed throughout the day. Always consult your physician before starting a new sleep schedule or taking over-the-counter sleep remedies.


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