Oh, sleep… We all need sleep and it comes so easy for some! As I write this post my husband is at the other end or the couch napping. I, on the other hand, have struggled with sleep since sustaining my traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sleep used to be so easy for me, now not so much.
Over the last few months I have been really focusing on sleep. I struggle with falling, staying asleep, and when I do stay asleep getting good sleep. Due to that, I have been seeing my doctor and researching everything I can about sleep.
Four Sleep Cycles
Did you know there are four sleep stage? There are and we need to go through each stage for our bodies and brains to truly be rested.
Stage 1 – Light Sleep – This is the stage where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awaken easily. In fact, if someone is woken up in this stage them may remember fragmented visual images.
Stage 2 – Onset of Sleep – In this stage eye movement stops, brain waves slow, heart rate drops, the core temperature lowers, breathing slows down, and your muscles are able to fully relax.
Stage 3 – Restorative Sleep – This is the stage where your body recovers and repairs itself. In the Restorative Sleep stage your brain processes the information it has received through the day. When you are in this stage you are difficult to wake and if they are awakened you will fell groggy and disoriented for a while after being awaken. This stage of sleep is also known as deep sleep.
Stage 4 – REM Sleep – In this stage of sleep your brain is very active, making your heart rate and blood pressure rise. Dreams also happen in this stage of sleep. REM stand for Rapid Eye Movement.
When I can fall asleep, I have found that I spend most of the night in stage one of the sleep cycle. I sleep very lightly and am easily woke up. In fact, I am very restless and the dog has taken to sleeping in another room.
I am working with several specialists to help me get to Restorative Sleep. With my TBI, Restorative Sleep is very important for my recovery. I still struggle with my short term memory and the sooner I can get to Restorative Sleep the sooner my brain will be able to process short term info!
Sleep isn’t just important for me, it’s important for everyone! We all need sleep to be our best selves! Athletes have some of the best sleep habits and we should all emulate them.
Here are a few tips that athletes use for sleep:
- Meditate – Clear your brain of all the stress and anxiety from the day by meditating just before bed.
- Create a Bedtime Routine – By having a bedtime routine it triggers your mind to start winding down and getting ready for sleep.
- Don’t Go to Bed Hungry – Have a small snack that is higher in carbohydrates.
- Create an Environment that Promotes Sleep – Have a quiet, cool, and dark room that is void of items that make noise as well as electronics.
- Follow a Daily Schedule – Wake up and go to sleep everyday at the same time, even on weekends.
- Keep the Area You Sleep in Cool – The ideal temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees.
- Have a Quality Mattress – A mattress should be replaced within every 10 years for good sleep and health.
I think I am on my way to being an athlete in regards to my sleep! When I realized I was struggling with sleep I started doing several of these tips. For several months I have been meditating right before bed and it has helped me to start falling asleep so much faster! I am able to rid my brain of all of the days stress and anxiety.
I have also been working on creating a schedule and bedtime routine to help with sleep. Each night I am starting my bedtime routine at 7:30 pm with the intent to fall asleep at 8:30 pm. I get ready for bed and then spend a little time reading or listening to an audio book. Then I get up each morning at 4:05 am and go to my workout at 5 am. Some days I only have control of getting up, going to the gym, and my bedtime routine but I have found it does help with sleep.
I have found benefits in supplements as well. I have been using magnesium and B vitamins. Since starting that I am getting better sleep. It has also been suggested to me to drink milk (cow or soy) because it has tryptophan. Tryptophan helps make serotonin and melatonin, the two main biomolecues involved in the production of normal sleep.
As I said before, we all needed sleep! So, I really hope you are sleeping better than I am! However, if you aren’t I am hoping you can take away a few tips to help you sleep!
Do you sleep well? What are your tips for sleeping? Do you have a bedtime routine?