Do you need an alarm clock to wake up every morning? If the answer to that question is yes, then you are probably not getting enough sleep. Sleeping is so important for your health, that not even exercise, diet, or mental workouts can make up for the lack of sleep.
When you’re not getting enough sleep, you are draining your body’s ability to focus for the next day. Many students think that sleeping less will led to more hours in the day to get things done. Yet, the reality is that less sleep will lead to more time being wasted in completing tasks such as homework assignments. That is due to the reduction in attention span leading to a higher error rate in performing tasks. For students, this means that those that sleep less will not only spend more time with the assignment, but will also produce lower quality work. It’s no wonder that sleep is considered by some to be a competitive advantage.
Not getting enough sleep (hyper link the words “enough sleep” to the study) can lead to depression, increased pain, and fatigue. This is due to the fact that less sleep leads to less glucose (which is responsible for keeping your brain active and alert) entering the brain. As a result, the perception of the environment slows down. This is part of the reason why students who cram for the test are really handicapping themselves.
Studies show in school children with insufficient sleep displays aggressive behavior and earn poorer grades. They also have a more difficultly focusing on their studies. Some scientists even theorized that sleeping problems can cause a permanent damage to a child’s brain.
As you sleep, your body enters four stages. It first begins with stage 1 which is typically 5 to 10 minutes long. If you wake up at this stage, then you may feel as if you didn’t sleep at all. After stage 1, the body enters stage 2 which is when the heart rate slows down and body temperature drops. Afterwards, the body enters stage 3 and then 4. Stage 4 is the deepest period of sleep. After stage 4, the body goes into the REM (rapid eye movement). This is when dreams occur. The body then repeats the cycle of Stage 1 to REM.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep. Teens of age 10-17 need 8.5-9.25 hours of sleep. Children of age 5-10 years need 10-11 hours of sleep.
There are many things to do to sleep better. First, make sure you get a good amount of exercise during the day and be physically active. If you feel drowsiness after eating a meal, don’t go to sleep immediately. Instead raise your energy level by exercising. Otherwise if you sleep too long during the day, you may wake up at the middle of the night. Second, make sure you eliminate negative thoughts. You can reduce stress is by writing down your thoughts. Worried about an assignment due three days from now? Put it on your to-do list, and review your to-do list every morning. This helps since you don’t have to remember as much.
It’s also important to get a lot of light exposure during the day. Spend some time outside and allow the sun to hit your face without wearing sunglasses. Likewise, make the rooms darker at night. Stay away from electronics screens including: computers, cell phones, television, and tablets. Instead, spend some time reading books. If you must use a computer at night, then use free software to tint the colors on the computer screen in a way that it won’t disturb your sleep cycle.
Avoid caffeinated drinks during the evenings. Also don’t drink alcohol late such as beer and wine. It’s also important for you to sleep consistently at the same time every night. When you do this routinely, your body will eventually trigger the timing as when to go to bed. You should keep setting the time earlier until you are able to wake up without the alarm clock.
The worst possible way of interrupting your sleep is by waking up from a deeper stage, especially stage 4. This is exactly what happens when you decide to for example to get only six hours of sleep. When you wake up from stage 4, you will feel crankiness. Keep waking up at this stage and your body will assume that this stage is no longer needed. As a result, sleeping disorders can develop. You always want to wake up at the REM period, since that is when you are the closest to being awake. The best way to guaranteed this will happen is by allowing your body to get a recommended amount of sleep.
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