Tips For Getting To Sleep At Night:
If you want to have less trouble getting to sleep at night, you need better sleep hygiene. That means setting yourself up at night so that sleep comes a little easier.
Exercise has been linked to improved sleep quality and lower instances of insomia. A study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that high levels of activity and exercise training have been associated with improvements in sleep quality. A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that aerobic physical activity with sleep hygiene education is an effective treatment approach to improve sleep quality, mood and quality of life in older adults with chronic insomnia.
Meditating in the evening before bed has also been linked to better sleep quality. It does not have to be for an extended period of time either. Just a few minutes a day done regularly can go a long way in slowing down the central nervous system. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that mindfulness meditation may mildly improve some sleep parameters in patients with insomnia. It can serve as an auxiliary treatment to medication for sleep complaints. Another study published in the journal Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine found that increasing evidence shows that mindfulness meditation can be successfully used for the treatment of insomnia with good patient acceptance and durable results.
Your Brain Reactivates During Rem Sleep
Network reactivation is actually a useful life hack to keep at the back of your mind. Recent studies have shown that brain patterns that happen during a task before you sleep are reactivated while you are asleep.
Hence, if you study for an hour before sleeping, the exact same brain areas activated during the study session will reactive while youre asleep!
Using network reactivation is a way of maximizing the productivity of your reading or learning sessions.
What Scientists Know So Far
One of the major systems in the brain that wakes you up is called the reticular activating system, or RAS. The RAS is a part of your brain located just above your spinal column. Its about two inches long and the width of a pencil. The RAS acts like a gatekeeper or filter for your brain, making sure it doesnt have to deal with more information than it can handle.
The RAS can sense important information and create neurochemicals that wake up other parts of the brain. It also keeps you awake throughout the day.
If you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the RAS senses that signal from your body and flips a switch to wake your brain up just like a light switch. Signals coming from outside of your body, like the sound of an alarm clock or a parent waking you up, can also flip on your RAS.
Once the RAS switch turns on, it can take some time for your whole brain and body to wake up. This is because it takes a few minutes to clear all the sleepy neurochemicals from your brain, which is why you may feel groggy when an alarm clock wakes you up.
But why do you feel more groggy on some days and not on others? When your brain is asleep, it shifts between deep and light stages. If your alarm clock goes off during a deeper stage of sleep, it takes longer for all the parts of your brain to wake up. You can use technology to track what stage of sleep youre in and then wake you during a light stage, so you wake up feeling more refreshed.
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Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
Getting enough sleep is good for your health. Here are a few tips to improve your sleep:
Set a schedule go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day but no later than a few hours before going to bed.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and alcoholic drinks before bed.
Relax before bed try a warm bath, reading, or another relaxing routine.
Create a room for sleep avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable temperature, and dont watch TV or have a computer in your bedroom.
Dont lie in bed awake. If you cant get to sleep, do something else, like reading or listening to music, until you feel tired.
See a doctor if you have a problem sleeping or if you feel unusually tired during the day. Most sleep disorders can be treated effectively.
You Risk A Mental Disorder
Interestingly, when you dont have enough sleep for one night, you might have symptoms of mania, such as a boost to your mood because your brains released hormones to keep you awake. However, soon your mood will crash, leading to depression symptoms. Lack of sleep over time is tied to depression, as some studies have confirmed that people who survive on less than six hours of sleep at night are likely to suffer from this mental disorder.
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Is Sleep Really The Cousin Of Death Or An Essential Part Of Life
Its easy to ask: Why sleep? But we can also turn the question on its head: Why wake? We need to be awake, among other reasons, to find and eat food, drink water, escape danger, reproduce, and exercise. But we need sleep to restore our immune system, defend against cancer, consolidate memory, and drain our brain of toxins. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to be healthy. If youre not getting that amount, then its worth considering whether those extra wakeful hours are really more important than your health.
But what is sleep? Sleep is a natural brain state that reoccurs daily, during which our awareness and responsiveness to sights and sounds from the environment fade away. But sleep is different from generalanesthesia, which induces a complete loss of awareness when administered correctly. Though anesthesiologists are said to put patients to sleep before surgery, patients often report having no sense of how much time has passed while they were put under. Furthermore, sleep is punctured with regular periods of conscious awareness known as rapid eye movement sleep.
Your brain works hard to give you rest and restoration each night. Unfortunately, mottos such as Ill sleep when Im dead hasten Alzheimers and other deadly diseases by allowing toxic chemicals to accumulate in the brain. Contrary to popular wisdom, sleep is not the cousin of death, but an essential part of life.
This post originally appeared on Knowing Neurons.
What Happens When You Sleep
When you sleep, your body undergoes a series of changes that enable the rest that is vital to your overall health. Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down and engage in processes of recovery, promoting better physical and mental performance the next day and over the long-term.
What happens when you dont sleep is that these fundamental processes are short-circuited, affecting thinking, concentration, energy levels, and mood. As a result, getting the sleep you need seven to nine hours for adults and even more for children and teens is crucial.
What happens during sleep, including how distinct stages of sleep unfold, demonstrates the complexity of sleep and its importance for our well-being.
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Tracking Sleep Through Smart Technology
Millions of people are using smartphone apps, bedside monitors, and wearable items to informally collect and analyze data about their sleep. Smart technology can record sounds and movement during sleep, journal hours slept, and monitor heart beat and respiration. Using a companion app, data from some devices can be synced to a smartphone or tablet, or uploaded to a PC. Other apps and devices make white noise, produce light that stimulates melatonin production, and use gentle vibrations to help us sleep and wake.
Sleep Also Helps Us Unlearn
The second study that MNT reported on looked at different sleep stages. However, this research showed that sleep does not just enable the brain to learn new things but also unlearn.
The original involved an auditory learning task. The researchers played sound sequences while the participants were asleep and awake.
They monitored the volunteers brain electrical activity using an electroencephalogram .
The EEGs also captured sleep spindles that occurred when the sleeping brain learned new sounds. Sleep spindles are spikes in oscillatory brain activity that previous research has linked with learning and memory consolidation.
After each sleep session, the experimenters asked the participants to re-listen to the sound sequences and recognize them. They assessed their learning performance through tests.
Using the EEG readings, the scientists examined three sleep phases: REM sleep, light non-REM sleep, and deep non-REM sleep.
When exposed to the sounds during REM sleep or during light non-REM sleep, the participants were better at recognizing them when awake. But, when exposed to the new sounds during deep non-REM sleep, they had a harder time recognizing the sound sequence during wakefulness.
Also, while EEG markers of learning were readily observed in light sleep, they were markedly absent in deep sleep, report the scientists.
The findings suggest that deep non-REM sleep is not so much to learn new things as it is to suppress information.
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Sleep Helps Your Brain Remember Things
Memory is the result of brain plasticity. This term basically refers to the changes between brain cells to create new associations. In other words, your brain changes structure over time. These structural changes are the result of learning new things.
Where does sleep come into place? First, let me introduce you to two terms. Stabilization and enhancement.
Stabilization is the initial anchoring of a memory. Its the basic foundations. These foundations can be formed within milliseconds. However, the connection between the brain structures that make up this memory is very weak. Over time, youll likely forget the memory, unless enhancement takes place. Enhancement is the consolidation of the memory, and takes place over hours and days. While stabilization occurs during daytime, enhancement mainly occurs while you are sleeping!
Hence, if you want to remember the following sequence: 9123471, stabilisation would be involved initially. However, I bet you if I asked you in 2 days, you wouldnt be able to remember it. This is unless you enhance it by revisiting the sequence, and having good sleep.
More broadly, theres a third step, integration. This takes place of months and years, and is the process of connecting enhanced memories into existing memories.
Together, stabilisation, enhancement, and integration make up the three phases of memory consolidation .
How Does Sleep Change During The Night
The four stages of sleep are further broken down into two categories: rapid eye movement and non-REM sleep. These categories are important because what happens during REM sleep is dramatically different from what happens during non-REM stages.
The first three stages of sleep are comprised of non-REM activity. Stage 1 is short, representing the act of dozing off and transitioning into sleep. In Stage 2 the body and mind slow down as you settle into sleep. Its easiest to be awoken during these first two stages.
In Stage 3, also known as deep sleep, the body is in recovery mode, slowing down even further. At the same time, overall brain activity slows and shows a tell-tale pattern of pulses of activity that are believed to help prevent unwanted awakenings.
The fourth stage is REM sleep. During REM periods, brain activity shoots back up to levels similar to when youre awake which explains why REM is associated with the most intense dreams. While breathing and heart rate increase during REM sleep, most muscles are paralyzed, which keeps us from acting out those vivid dreams.
Each sleep cycle takes between 70 and 120 minutes. In the first sleep cycles of the night, more time is spent in non-REM sleep. The majority of REM sleep happens during the second half of the night. The progression of sleep stages and cycles in one sleep period is known as sleep architecture.
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All Sleep Is Not The Same
Throughout your time asleep, your brain will cycle repeatedly through two different types of sleep: REM sleep and non-REM sleep.
The first part of the cycle is non-REM sleep, which is composed of four stages. The first stage comes between being awake and falling asleep. The second is light sleep, when heart rate and breathing regulate and body temperature drops. The third and fourth stages are deep sleep. Though REM sleep was previously believed to be the most important sleep phase for learning and memory, newer data suggests that non-REM sleep is more important for these tasks, as well as being the more restful and restorative phase of sleep.
As you cycle into REM sleep, the eyes move rapidly behind closed lids, and brain waves are similar to those during wakefulness. Breath rate increases and the body becomes temporarily paralyzed as we dream.
The cycle then repeats itself, but with each cycle you spend less time in the deeper stages three and four of sleep and more time in REM sleep. On a typical night, youll cycle through four or five times.
What Happens In The Brain During Sleep
John Peever, director of the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the University of Toronto, and Brian J. Murray, director of the sleep laboratory at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, respond:
The function of sleep has mystified scientists for thousands of years, but modern research is providing new clues about what it does for both the mind and body. Sleep serves to reenergize the body’s cells, clear waste from the brain, and support learning and memory. It even plays vital roles in regulating mood, appetite and libido.
Sleeping is an integral part of our life, and as research shows, it is incredibly complex. The brain generates two distinct types of sleepslow-wave sleep , known as deep sleep, and rapid eye movement , also called dreaming sleep. Most of the sleeping we do is of the SWS variety, characterized by large, slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and slow, deep breathing, which may help the brain and body to recuperate after a long day.
When we fall asleep, the brain does not merely go offline, as implied by the common phrase out like a light. Instead a series of highly orchestrated events puts the brain to sleep in stages. Technically sleep starts in the brain areas that produce SWS. Scientists now have concrete evidence that two groups of cellsthe ventrolateral preoptic nucleus in the hypothalamus and the parafacial zone in the brain stemare involved in prompting SWS. When these cells switch on, it triggers a loss of consciousness.
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Do Progressive Muscle Relaxation
As you lie in bed, tense and relax all of your muscles one by one, starting at your toes and ending at your head. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, as the name implies, but it also forces you to think about the physical parts of your body, directing your attention away from whatever thoughts or stressors youre fixating on, Breus says.
Keep A Gratitude List
Now that youve dumped your worries, replace the void where those negative thoughts once lived with positive ones by starting a gratitude journal, Breus suggests. The impact of those positive thoughts is greater when you write them down. So try spending a few minutes each night listing three to five things youre grateful for.
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First How Does Your Brain Prepare For Sleep
The onset of sleep is driven by your circadian rhythms and a group of photosensitive cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus . The visual system is connected to cells in the SCN, letting them know if its day or night.
The SNC is linked to the pineal gland, which promotes the release of melatonin, a hormone associated with the onset of sleep.
The SNC is located deep within the hypothalamus, a peanut-sized structure responsible for regulating your arousal levels. The hypothalamus also governs your nervous and endocrine systems, explaining why sleep affects how alert you feel, as well as how it governs hormone levels in the body.
What Happens To Your Brain When You Sleep
Neuroscience is still uncovering some of the mysteries of sleep. However, we have a solid grasp of what sleep does for the brain to promote both cognitive and overall health.
All things considered, the research is clear on one thing: Your brain doesnt switch off like a computer. In fact, modern medicine defines death as the absence of brain activity.
While you sleep, your brain is hard at work, managing a complex array of brain and bodily systems that leads to renewal and regeneration. Among many other things, changes to the quantity or quality of sleep you get affects your ability to prevent and recover from illness.
Heres a closer look at what your brain does while you sleep.
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The Neurons That Make Us Forget Dreams
It is not just synapses that may help or hinder the learning process during sleep but also the neurons themselves. Some researchers have identified specific neurons with key roles in memory formation that help us actively forget dreams.
For instance, research appearing in the journal Science has located some of these neurons in the hippocampus, a brain area crucial for forming memories and learning.
Akihiro Yamanaka, Ph.D., from Nagoya University, Japan, and his colleagues experimented with some of these neurons that produce a melanin-concentrating hormone that helps regulate both sleep and appetite.
Yamanaka and team conducted experiments in mice, which showed that the firing of this particular group of neurons during REM sleep controls whether the brain remembers new information after a good nights sleep.
Genetically deleting these neurons in mice suggested that these cells help the brain actively forget new, possibly unimportant information. What is more, the findings point to the role that these neurons have in forgetting dreams.
Co-lead author Thomas Kilduff, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Neuroscience at the SRI International research institute in Menlo Park, CA, explains.
Since dreams are thought to primarily occur during REM sleep, the sleep stage when the MCH cells turn on, activation of these cells may prevent the content of a dream from being stored in the hippocampus consequently, the dream is quickly forgotten.