Sleep is one of our most essential biological functions but also our least understood. Most information out there is hopelessly complicated and makes it seem like it’s impossible for a regular person to understand.
In this section we break down just why it is that poor sleep is so hazardous to your health. We give you the tools you need to help you and your children get the restful sleep that you need to be healthy, happy, and high-functioning.
We also answer common questions that you may have about your sleep environment, debunk myths about sleep, and describe processes that happen in our brain. We’ll also explain more scientific terms like melanopsin, sleep spindles, and the flip-flop switch.
What you need to know about sleep and how it affects your health
The lack of sleep seems to be one of the main problems of the 21st century. Many willingly or unwillingly sacrifice sleep so that they can have more time, making up for the lost sleep on their days off – but is that a good idea?
Here we present basic things you need to know about sleep as well as desirable and undesirable behaviors regarding your sleep health.
What is sleep and what does it do?
Sleep is a natural process during which we rest. Many predictable things happen during sleep – for example, we go through different sleep stages every night, the most famous of which is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Here you can learn about REM, light and deep sleep, and what the characteristics of each one are.
It’s so easy to notice how powerful sleep is – after just one night of sleep deprivation, we feel tired, drowsy, and can’t focus or perform well. But these are not the only consequences. The more science makes progress and the more research is done; the more we see the importance of sleep – its immense effect on our hormones, mental and physical health. Lack of sleep has been associated with heart problems, memory and attention deficits, and even cancer.
How can I get good sleep?
We’ve got you covered on this. You should find out how much sleep you actually need and what your chronotype is. Knowing these things can help you organize your schedule. Once you’ve done that, stick to the schedule. It’s very important to go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every night. This is how your brain learns its routine and ‘plans’ your sleep accordingly, meaning that, in the morning, you’ll wake up from a light sleep stage, all refreshed and happy.
For a good night’s sleep, you also need to pay attention to your sleep environment. The best is to sleep in a quiet, totally dark and slightly chilly room.