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Why sleep has an enormous impact on your general health

Hi everyone,

How’s it all going so far? Are you feeling organised and positive about your successes this week? What have you achieved that make you feel focused and great about yourself. Have you managed to move about as much as possible?

Maybe even made it to the gym or been out walking or jogging?

Have you made a break through with a new habit and are changing things around on a daily basis?

What positive changes are you making? Are they enough?

It could be an extra glass of water a day, or perhaps swapping out something for a pile of veggies?

What can you push for and change? Can you reflect and remember the reasons you really want to change?

You are all doing’re all making progress. Praise yourself for your success so far and keep moving forward...there is no end to this, it’s a constant journey.

So who here has a fitbit that tracks your sleep? Get into the app and have a look at your sleep. This email is in two parts and should help explain a little more about it.

Today’s Topic: SLEEP

Sleep is a lifestyle factor which has an enormous impact on your general healthy and your attitude towards food on a daily basis. Because of this sleep directly impacts your decision making and your control over your weight.

Lack of sleep can cause large shifts in your body composition. So if you’re really making better changes to your daily diet and exercise plan but not getting things moving in the right direction then maybe it’s time to track and assess your sleep.

What is sleep?

Sleep is a period of rest for the body and mind. It’s not a passive or a state of complete unconsciousness – your brain is active – we know this from studies done & the fact that your eyes twitch when you are asleep – this is called Rapid Eye Movement (REM).

There are 4 main stages spanning 3 stages of non – REM sleep and REM itself.

Stage 1 – Alert Awareness

During the day your brain is at its most active. When you are highly stimulated say when you play sport or engage in something dangerous your brain exhibits high frequency and very low amplitude waves called Gamma Waves. These are associated with new experiences and learning.

During less stressful times you will display Beta Waves which are involved with conscious thought, logical thinking & moderate – high problem solving. Excessive beta wave activity is associated with stress and anxiety.

Stage 2 – Relaxed Wakefulness

During the short time before you go to sleep you close your eyes and turn off your brain so this includes Alpha wave activity. These are highly sensitive to eye opening and closing but can be disturbed by starting to perform calculations or thinking too hard in general.

Stage 3 – Falling asleep and Sleep Stage One

As you relax more your brain activity will drop further – you start to display Theta Waves. You then enter Stage 1 or non – REM stage 1 sleep (drowsiness or somnolence. Breathing starts to slow but your muscles are still active – changing position in bed & your eyes may open every now and then. It lasts 10 minutes & you are easily disturbed. This is where you can experience that “falling feeling with sudden awakeness” or hynagogic jerks.

Stage 2 Sleep

The first stage of definite sleep. Muscles relax almost completely & you become unaware of the outside world displaying only Theta waves. Your brain now receives information on your memory, attention, consciousness and language. This stage makes up most of your sleeping time than any other stage – 45 – 50 % total sleep.

Stage 3 Sleep

This is deep sleep. The brain is less active producing only slow delta waves. Your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature drop to the lowest level and you become almost completely unresponsive to outside stimuli.

Deep sleep is the most rejuvenating, restorative sleep and is crucial for memory. Generally deep sleep makes up 20 – 25 % of total sleep & usually happens in the first half of the night.

So if you have had lack of deep sleep stage you will wake feeling that you had poor sleep quality.

Also if you wake during deep sleep this can lead to sleep inertia – a groggy, confused, near-drunkenness feeling which can take up to 30 minutes to go.

This is also where most sleep disturbances occur – such as bedwetting, sleep walking, sleep talking, night terrors – sweat, heart rate & blood pressure will raise.

REM Sleep

During REM sleep you’re unresponsive to stimuli and your muscles are paralysed. Your brainwaves will fall within the ranges of theta, alpha and beta and your brain activity is equal to when you are awake. This is the part of the night when you dream.

So you don’t “act out” your dreams your brainstem becomes active and shuts down the ability to move your wider body (apart from the necessary functions of heart and lungs etc). Your eyes are spared from this shut down and that’s why your eyes move rapidly and at will when you dream during REM.

Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and metabolism will increase during this period – almost at waking levels. You are likely to wake several times during REM but you won’t remember. If you are awakened properly you might find it takes a long time to go back to sleep.

As you age your REM sleep percentage drops – during childhood you spend 8 hours per day in REM sleep, during early adulthood its 2 hours a day and by age 70 it’ll be approx 45 minutes. This is because REM is important for brain development.

Sleep cycles

You don’t process these stages in order when you sleep. Rather you cycle through all 4 in the first 70 -100 minutes of sleep, then the cycles repeat in loops lasting 90 -120 minutes. Most people will experience 5-6 sleep cycles per night if they have rested well.

As each cycle occurs, REM sleep increases while stage 3 decreases. This means the first half of the night’s sleep rejuvenates your mental abilities and feelings of being refreshed while the latter half is important for learning and developing new skills.

More on sleep and it's benefits next week!

Fitness Fact of the week

If you eat whilst distracted, while watching TV, working, surfing social media and even driving, you will not notice how much you are eating. Nor will you notice how fast you eat or how full you are. Eating when distracted or mindlessly eating can lead someone to eat more than they think and forget how much they’ve gone through.

Quote of the week

“Are you going to be full of words or inspired by action?”

Keep active & see you soon


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