Have you ever felt like you were drifting through your days, always tired, grabbing coffees to get a desperately needed quick burst of energy?
The quality and quantity of your sleep may be the issue. Sleeping is the most effective thing that we can do every day to restore our brain and heal our body.
So I got myself a fitness tracker to monitor the quality of my sleep. And I want to share with you some of the interesting and odd things that I found out.
The Stages of Sleep: REM
Sleep is divided into two main types. On the one hand, there’s REM sleep. It’s during REM sleep that we experience our most vivid dreams. The brain wave activity simply skyrockets. That’s why you can use REM sleep to get a boost for creativity. There’s a 5-minute trick to help you take full advantage of that power.
On the other hand, we have non-REM sleep, which is unimaginatively divided into deep and light sleep. During those lighter stages, your body temperature drops, your heartbeat decreases, and your electrical brain activity slows down. But as you move into deeper stages of your sleep, powerful brainwaves take charge and overhaul your immune and emotional systems.
How Sleep Affects Your Emotions
As Matt Walker points out, there’s a link between sleep deprivation and hyperactivity in the amygdala. The amygdala is one of the centerpiece regions that preside over strong emotional reactions. On top of that, when you’re low on zzzs, the prefrontal cortex has a weak and poor connection with the amygdala. The prefrontal cortex is somewhat akin to the CEO of your brain. It’s one of the most evolved regions, and it acts as a regulatory control brake. It’s clear how the combination of these effects can hurt your emotional integrity.
Losing My REM Sleep
After the first night with the tracker on, I tapped on the “End Sleep” button on my phone and waited for the results. What I found out was that REM sleep was mostly concentrated in the second half of the night. A few days later, I had to wake up early. While losing just 1 hour or 12,5% of my usual sleep window, I ended up losing almost double the percentage of REM sleep. And I did feel slack and uninspired through that whole day. The structure of your sleep has some serious implications!
Music for Sleeping and Deep Relaxation
Thankfully, music has been proven to improve the quality of your sleep. Music has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax. People who listen to 45 minutes of relaxing music before bedtime fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night. They also feel more rested when they listen to music than when they don’t. It’s a great idea to integrate music into your bedtime routine, ideally together with a daily reflection and a to-do list for tomorrow. To help you get started, here’s one of my favorite videos.