Sleeping keeps humans healthy, and we should have a proper sleep every day failing, which can create lots of problems. Most importantly, humans spend about a third of their lives sleeping, so much essential it is. The body needs sleep to refresh and rejuvenate, and sleeping disorders of any kind can affect our health in the long run. It can result in heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Lack of sleep affects the immune system and also mood, memory, concentration as well as general health.
Having an understanding of how sleep works can help to identify the problems of sleep disorders better that can lead to better solutions.
The structure of sleep
The hypothalamus located deep inside the brain contains groups of nerve cells that regulate sleep and arousal. The SCN or Suprachiasmatic nucleus or body clock in common parlance is located inside the hypothalamus. It consists of numerous cells that receive signals from the eyes about light exposure. By using the information, the SCN then synchronizes the light/night cycle with the circadian rhythm.
To control the transition between sleep and awake, the hypothalamus keeps communicating with the brain stem which, together with the hypothalamus, produce GABA that reduces the arousal centers in the brain stem and hypothalamus. Pons and medulla are brainstem parts that play a vital role in REM sleep and relaxing muscles responsible for body movement. On receiving signals from the brain stem, the pineal gland accelerates the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. During REM sleep, the amygdala, a brain structure that processes emotions, stay highly active, and the cause for producing dreams that help you process your feelings better.
How to improve sleep
- Having fixed times for going to bed and waking uptime is one of the habits that help to maintain a proper balance between the hormones melatonin and cortisol and accelerates the process of falling asleep. It also makes easy to wake up in the morning without depending on alarms.
- Moderate exercising regularly improves overall health as well as facilitates sleep. However, never exercise at a time very close to the time when you want to fall asleep. It can increase the level of Cortisol in the body and keep you awake longer.
- Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes are enemies to good sleep. You must avoid taking it at times, very close to going to bed as it can adversely affect your sleep patterns.
- Since light is the primary source of information about whether it is day or night, avoid exposure to artificial lights that can affect your natural rhythms. Bright light during the day does not harm but do not use bright and blue lights in the evening to have a better quality of sleep and more daytime energy.
- Slow down your activities and relax before going to bed. Listen to relaxing music, read a book, meditate, do yoga and deep breathing exercises to calm the nerves and make you fall asleep quickly.
Having a good sleep will help to start your day supercharged as you would be raring to go with full energy.
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