How to easily fall asleep and wake up with the help of science

Posted on Feb 9, 2021      275

Biological rhythms and their influence on sleep patterns.

Residents of many countries have noted that they have been sleeping less in recent years. The French sleep an hour and a half less now than 50 years ago: 6 hours 58 minutes on weekdays and 7 hours 50 minutes on weekends. Either way, it is less than the recommended eight hours.

The result - a widespread sense of fatigue: in the same France, 25% of the population aged 25-45 years do not feel rested in the morning.

Translated the main theses from the report “Sleep and rhythm of life” insurance company Harmonie Mutuelle on how to improve the quality of sleep and combat fatigue during the day.

What happens to the brain and body during sleep?

Normal healthy sleep comprises 4 to 6 sleep cycles, each cycle lasting nearly 1.5 hours. A person may wake up for a few seconds between cycles - and this is normal.

Each cycle comprises two phases:

#1. Slow sleep phase, 60-75 minutes. This is the most restorative phase both physically (skin regeneration, hormonal recovery, muscle relaxation occurs) and mentally (the brain is at rest).

#2. Paradoxical sleep phase, 15-20 minutes. Muscles are completely relaxed, but brain activity is close to the waking state. In this phase we dream, and the brain processes the data got during the day and monitors the production of sleep and growth hormones.

Biological rhythms and their significance

If five days a week we go to work at 8 am, the body adjusts to that rhythm. But how effectively can a person work in this mode if on weekends or vacations they go to bed well past midnight and wake up closer to lunch?

Scientists have long talked about nature’s individual internal rhythms of sleep and wakefulness. In 2017, Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael Young won the Nobel Prize “for the discovery of molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythms.”

They concluded: for a person to be awake and energetic, his internal rhythms must coincide with the daily routine. First, they should coincide with sleep regime.

How to adjust the sleep regime

The influence of light. Light therapy is closely connected with the “hormone of sleep” - melatonin. It is synthesized in the dark, active production begins around 22:00. It reaches its maximum concentration in the blood at 2:00-4:00 a.m.

When the level of melatonin in the blood is high, the muscles are relaxed and there is a natural inhibition of all processes in the body.

In order to wake up quickly and dramatically lower the level of the hormone, we need strong light exposure: the sun or a high-intensity lamp next to the bed. Bright light blocks the release of melatonin and signals the brain: “Time to get up.”

The opposite also works. If you need to fall asleep faster, create the illusion of complete darkness in the room: thick curtains, a blindfold - all this stimulates the production of melatonin.

Biological rhythms and their influence on sleep patterns.

Don’t use your computer or smartphone before bedtime. Screen light blocks the release of melatonin (the body does not distinguish it from natural morning light) and delays falling asleep.

Because of regular use of technology before bed, the body does not understand the rhythm in which it lives, does not distinguish day from night, so it cannot relax and tune in to rest.

Another problem is the Internet. It interferes with going to bed on time.

The brain must keep a clear association: bed = sleep. Not work, not watching movies or chatting with friends on Skype.

Nutrition. The digestive system is not ready to work at its maximum late at night and at night, don’t overload it with heavy foods. It makes sense that five hours before bedtime you should eliminate coffee, alcohol and other stimulants.

Ritual before bedtime. It can be anything: a contrast shower (it lowers body temperature - for the body it is a sign of approaching sleep), reading (as long as you do not read from a computer screen), massage. It is important that you make a habit of repeating these things day after day - so you adjust your biological clock.

Daytime sleep. Experts have different opinions: some believe that such siestas prevent you from falling asleep at night, others - that they complement a night’s sleep and help you feel awake all day long.