We spend a third of our lives sleeping. But sleep problems (insomnia) are now part of our everyday lives and are considered a real widespread disease. Currently, about 100 different sleep disorders are known, but they are usually treatable.
Sleeping efficiency, as well as sleep phases, can ensure a good night’s sleep. However, if these are not normal, they can indicate sleep problems, which usually have serious consequences.
- What Is Sleep Efficiency?
- The Sleep Phases At A Glance
- Fall Asleep Phase
- Light Sleep Phase
- Deep Sleep
- Dream Phase (REM Sleep)
- Why Do We Sleep Badly?
- What Are The Consequences Of Poor Sleep?
- What Problems Can There Be In Waking Up During The Night?
- Our Top Tip To Increase Sleep Efficiency
- How Does Melatonin Work In The Body?
- What Else Can You Do Against Sleep Problems?
- Tips To Sleep Through The Night Without Waking Up?
- The Brain Benefits Of Deep Sleep – Video
- Improving Sleep Efficiency – FAQ
Sleep efficiency is the ratio between the duration of sleep and the time spent in bed. This means that the faster you fall asleep, as well as the better you sleep through the night, the higher your sleep efficiency. Healthy sleep efficiency is between 85 and 95%, with values of 90-95% being optimal. Patients with insomnia have efficiencies below 85%.
You go to bed at 11 pm and get up at 7 am in the morning, which means you spend 8 hours in bed. If it takes them 1 hour to fall asleep, you still have 7 hours to sleep. Your sleep efficiency would be (⅞) 87.5%.
However, if you need 2 hours to fall asleep, your sleep efficiency would be 75%, which is outside the normal range.
These examples are simplified, of course, because during sleep there are also waking phases. As a rule, one wakes up 10-30 times per night but usually does not remember them. However, if these waking phases last longer, they will influence sleep efficiency.
There are 3 ways to measure their sleep efficiency:
Keep a diary in which you document:
- When you go to bed when you get up, and the estimated time you fell asleep.
- Use technological aids with sleep sensors (e.g., wristbands).
- Get tested in a sleep lab.
While sleep efficiency takes into account the waking-sleeping phases, the body goes through different phases during sleep. How these are related affects how well we sleep.
What are sleep phases?
While we sleep, our body goes through different sleep phases, which together form the sleep cycle, which lasts on average 90 minutes each. Depending on which sleep phase the body is in, we sleep more deeply or more lightly.
The sleep cycle consists of 4 phases:
- Fall asleep phase: sleep is only very light and muscles are still slightly tense.
- Light sleep phase: the muscles are relaxed, the pulse and breathing are even, and the body temperature drops.
- Deep sleep: The muscles are even more relaxed than during the light sleep phase. Breathing and heart rate slows down and blood pressure drops. Sleepwalking or teeth grinding may occur during this phase.
- REM sleep (dream phase): Muscle twitching may occur and breathing (frequency and depth) is increased.
The sleep cycle is completed between 4 and 7 times per night, and the sequence and duration of sleep phases may change with each cycle.
As a rule, the cycle begins with the falling asleep phase, followed by the light sleep phase and deep sleep phase, which can also alternate more often, and finally comes the dream phase, REM sleep, which ends the cycle.
In the falling asleep phase, a person sleeps only very lightly and also wakes up most easily. The muscles are still slightly tense and the body is still ready to function at any time.
Many people experience the falling asleep phase as a time of becoming heavy and falling. So if you feel like you are falling into the void, this happens during the falling asleep phase. However, the cause of this is still unclear.
What Happens In The Body During The Falling Asleep Phase?
- Melatonin levels are increased to initiate the falling asleep phase.
- Prepares body and mind for the following sleep phases.
The light sleep phase accounts for about half of our sleep. Consciousness is turned off during this phase.
What Happens In The Body During The Light Sleep Phase?
- Superficial processing of the experience
- Musculature slackens, including the palate, which is why some people snore
Relaxation of the palate is usually the trigger for snoring
In deep sleep, the body is at its most relaxed and it is difficult to wake up. So when the alarm clock wakes you up from deep sleep, you often feel a bit disoriented. The deep sleep phase is the only sleep phase in which sleepwalking or sleep talking can occur. On average, an adult spends about a quarter of the night in deep sleep.
What Happens In The Body During Deep Sleep?
- Experiences are processed.
- Learned things and memories are stored.
- The immune system is strengthened.
- Injuries and wounds are healed.
- Growth hormones are released.
- Decisions are made subconsciously.
In order for the body to recover sufficiently, deep sleep should account for 15-25% of bedtime.
Dreams that occur during the dream phase are remembered by many even after awakening. This is because the most intense dreams occur during this phase of sleep. REM sleep is the end of a sleep cycle. It is usually followed by a short waking phase before the body returns to the falling asleep phase.
REM stands for “rapid eye movement”, which is characteristic of the dream phase.
What Happens In The Body During Rem Sleep?
- Processing of emotional impressions, as well as collected information.
- Nightmares are predominantly dreamed in the dream phase.
Thus, a person must spend enough time in the deep sleep phase for the body to regenerate. Although all sleep phases make an important contribution to restful sleep, the body has difficulty recovering without deep sleep, which is why light sleepers are also often moody and easily irritated.
There are many triggers for sleep problems. Whether it’s stress, family and work problems, poor nutrition, or health complaints – all of these keep us busy, so much so that we can’t switch off properly. Our healthy sleep suffers.
Every second woman and every fourth man in the USA suffers from sleep problems!
If we sleep poorly, this inevitably leads to consequences that must be taken seriously:
- Symptoms of fatigue.
- Impaired concentration and attention.
- Decreased performance.
- Stress and migraines.
- Weakened immune system and higher susceptibility to infections.
- Weight gain.
- Stomach problems.
- Increased risk of accidents.
- High blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Cardiovascular diseases.
- Premature signs of aging or reduced life expectancy.
The following is a description of the fundamental problems associated with frequent awakenings and their explanation.
- Lack of energy, concentration, and mood: this is explained by the fact that awakenings shorten the slow sleep phase. In this stage, the rest is very deep and it is where the organism is restored. This is why it affects energy and concentration when waking up. You may feel much more tired to face the day and your alertness will be lower as you will be less focused on what you are doing. There are also changes in mood, especially causing irritability or apathy, as a result of the lower energy with which you wake up. In addition, irritability can be a consequence of the frustration of trying to go back to sleep and not succeeding.
- Memory lapses: interrupted sleep affects the ability to create memories. Continued sleep is essential for what has been learned during the day to pass into long-term memory.
- In general, it will also affect social, family, and work relationships, since a night without rest prevents a successful and satisfactory day.
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Our sleep quality is directly influenced by the natural sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making us tired in the evening. Our body’s own production thus follows the natural biorhythm (day-night rhythm). If your body produces enough melatonin, you sleep well and feel rested and refreshed the next morning.
But if we work late into the night on the computer, scroll through our social media apps or watch TV for a long time, this disturbs and inhibits our natural melatonin production. We get sleep problems.
Taking the natural sleep hormone as a supplement can help you manage your sleep problems.
Melatonin ensures that your natural biorhythm is rebalanced. The time it takes to fall asleep is proven to be shortened and you sleep more refreshed. The next morning you wake up feeling refreshed.
Your overall sleep quality improves and the body regenerates sustainably.
Studies also show that melatonin helps alleviate jet lag. So, go on a trip, prepare early and you can enjoy the trip twice as much.
- Ban smartphones and co. from bed, as the blue light inhibits our natural melatonin production.
- Design a falling asleep ritual so that the biorhythm can adjust to sleeping and the body’s own melatonin production is boosted.
- Do yoga exercises, meditation, or breathing exercises before sleep to help you calm down.
- Journal to write down your thoughts so you are not kept awake by thoughts.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol so that melatonin production is not hindered.
- Eat light meals in the evening that are not heavy on the stomach. This allows the body to focus on going to bed.
- A soothing and relaxing bath or a warm tea can also help to calm down in the evening.
1. Get a proper sleeping area
To ensure a good rest during sleep, it is essential to have a good mattress. In addition, the room must be strictly for rest. Get an environment conducive to falling asleep with a tidy bedroom, dim lights, an adequate pillow, and the aforementioned mattress that best suits your physiognomy.
2. Avoid distractions
It is not advisable to fall asleep with the television or computer on. Experts recommend turning off these devices half an hour before going to sleep. Otherwise, our brain is still activated by all the stimuli generated by these devices. The same happens if you are one of those who go to bed with your cell phone to check the latest notifications before going to sleep.
3. Avoid large meals before going to bed
If you go to bed with a full stomach it will be difficult to fall asleep and you will probably spend the night tossing and turning. To ensure a good rest you should go to bed having digested and with a light body to ensure good rest and avoid having to get up at night.
4. Practice sport
Regular physical exercise will help you sleep better. Physically active people sleep better because their body is tired when they go to bed and, on the other hand, their whole circulatory system works better so it helps to get a good night’s rest.
5. Healthy diet
Eating well helps us in all facets of our lives and sleep is no less important. Eating a healthy diet will help you fall asleep better and get a better night’s rest.
7. Avoid caffeine at night
It is advisable to reduce the consumption of caffeinated beverages as bedtime approaches. In this way, you will be reducing the effects of caffeine and you will sleep better.
8. Routine and schedules
If you go to bed at about the same time every day, your body will assume a sleep routine. Repeated habits teach your body and it is the same with sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every day and you will see how little by little it will be less difficult for you to fall asleep and you will rest better all night long.
9. Short naps
If you cannot do without a nap after eating, you should try to keep this rest short. Keep in mind that if you take two hours of nap after eating, you cannot expect to go to bed at 11 o’clock at night and fall asleep like a child. Napping is recommended as long as it is not longer than 20 minutes. In this way, you will be able to rest at noon and when the night arrives you will be tired enough to fall asleep easily.
10. Relaxation exercises
Relaxation will help you go to bed much more rested and with your body and mind free from tension. Stress is the worst enemy of sleep, so if you do some simple relaxation exercises before going to bed, your sleep will be rewarded.
It may happen that, even if you follow these tips, the awakenings do not disappear. In this case, there are medical professionals or pharmacists who can advise you on a product that will help you avoid this type of insomnia. There are melatonin-based products available on the market that act on the body to create a restful sleep that will make you feel much more rested and with enough energy to make the day-to-day more bearable.
The Brain Benefits Of Deep Sleep - Video
Improving Sleep Efficiency - FAQ
- Keep regular times to go to bed and get up.
- The bed is only for sleeping.
- Do not overdo it with naps and make them 15 to 30 min.
- Take care of your diet.
- Avoid intense exercise before going to bed.
Maintain good sleep hygiene: get enough sleep, follow a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up, eat your last meal at least two hours before going to bed and, if possible, do not eat too much.
REM sleep represents 25% of the sleep cycle and first occurs 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep. Since sleep cycles repeat, REM sleep is entered several times during the night.