The Importance of a Consistent Sleep Schedule| December 28, 2021
Like eating or drinking, sleeping is among the vitals of your life. Every adult has spent almost 1-3rd of their life sleeping, yet nobody knows the actual point of it. Why have you not been evolved to the point where your body does not need a whole 8 hours of sleep every night? Even scientists are struggling to know everything about sleep. For knowing all, let us dig deeper into the phenomenon itself.
Sleep Cycle: A Vast Perspective
To be aware of how important is sleep, you need to know more about its physiology. It is a versatile phenomenon going on in your brain. The sleep cycle has been split into four stages. The phases are,
- Light sleep (Stage 1 and 2 of non-REM).
- Deep sleep (Stage 3 and 4 of non-REM).
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM).
The four stages of sleep alternate between one another the whole time you are asleep. When you sleep, your brain activity alternates from stage one to stage four and then back to stage 1. The spot you come back to stage one, your body experiences Rapid Eye Movement (REM). It indicates that REM is a stop after each cycle1.
Sleep Waves: A Depiction via EEG
Your brain activity is recorded using an electroencephalogram. Sleep is a complex event and far more than you know. The sleep cycle comprises two parts, Rapid Eye Movement and non-Rapid Eye Movement.
Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
Non-rapid eye movement sleep is further split into several stages that are,
- Stage 1:
This stage manifests theta waves.
- Stage 2:
In the 2nd stage of the sleep cycle, EEG shows variation between sleep spindles and k complexes. If you have a habit of chewing during sleep, it occurs during this stage of the sleep cycle.
- Stage 3:
This stage does not have any significant waves. Sleepwalking, sleep terrors, and bedwetting occurs during this stage.
- Stage 4:
This stage shows delta waves that have low frequency and high amplitude2.
Rapid Eye Movement
This stage comprises beta waves. It shows that during REM, your brain is behaving as if you are awake. This phase of sleep is vital, and multiple activities are going on in your brain. These include decreased or loss of your muscles’ tone, increase in blood pressure, and brain oxygen demand. Dreaming and nightmares also occur during REM. It also helps in memory consolidation3. In a study, rats deprived of REM sleep died as quickly as those deprived of food.
Once you are awake, your brain activity shows beta waves on EEG. These are high-frequency waves with low amplitudes.
What Triggers Sleep?
What do you think stimulates the urge to sleep? Darkness is the chief stimulant to induce sleep. Your brain is the most complex organ of your body. Every control signal is initiated and dispatched from here via cells called neurons. Likewise, the brain is the structure to trigger sleep.
The Suprachiasmatic nucleus carries sleep signals to the pineal gland located in the cerebral hemispheres. It, in turn, increases the release of a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is involved in regulating your sleep-wake regularity and thus maintains the circadian rhythm of your body. Circadian rhythm is the internal clock of your body. A chief feature of melatonin is that its level does not rise during daylight4.
Another factor that influences sleep is adenosine. Your body begins to synthesize adenosine since you are awake. It accumulates in the brain. Once its level rises, particularly in the evening, you develop an urge to sleep.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Is sleep essential? Can you function well without getting enough sleep? What does enough sleep mean? Is there some criterion to match this “enough sleep” terminology? The answers to all questions lie ahead.
Your functioning, daytime activities, mood swings, physical health, and mental health all depend on the quality of your sleep. Having a healthy life does not only mean getting enough sleep but also getting quality sleep. If you are compromising on your sleep schedule, your daily life activities will be affected in turn.
Importance of a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Having a consistent sleep schedule is vital for normal health. Following are some of the health benefits that you will get by following a consistent sleep schedule.
1. Improves Daily Performance and Enhances Physical Function
For a better functioning day, you should be sleeping well. Sleeping well does not only mean that you must complete sleep of 6 to 8 hours a day whenever you want. It means that you have to follow a proper sleep schedule. There is a famous quote that:
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”
Thus, a well-scheduled sleep is a demand of your body’s internal clock. In the case of children, sleep promotes growth and development. This is why children need more sleep. Studies have shown a link between inadequate sleep and poor health outcomes. School performance and behaviors have been greatly affected if your child is not having enough sleep5.
What is the criterion of enough sleep? A normal sleep span varies for people of different ages. Teenagers and school-going children need sleep of 7 to 12 hours, people aged 25 and older need doze of around 7 to 9 hours a day. It means that at least 7 hours of sleep are essential to have good health outcomes and daily performances.
2. Boosts Mental Health
If you have loads of responsibilities, it might be tough to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Sleep is one of the essentials to stop worrying and have some rest for a while. No matter how much you try to rely on coffee and energy drinks, your mind needs some relaxation to get ready to work again.
Like a machine, your brain needs rest and escape from stressful conditions. A sound sleep of 7 to 9 hours regularly will allow you to cover your loads of work responsibilities in half the time you were supposed to. Have you ever noticed that a machine functions up to the mark when it is new? If you use it continuously without a break, it will gradually wear out.
On the contrary, it will function better if you take proper care. Similar is the case with your brain and body. If you try to overwork, you will end up disturbing every task. Lack of sleep and unscheduled sleep alters serum cortisol levels. Studies have shown that any alteration in cortisol level causes mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and many other psychological impairments. It means that sleep schedule changes are associated with mental health issues6.
3. Better Concentration
You would have noticed that people who sleep well have better learning and memory. You might yet be wondering that your colleagues or classmates learn better in almost no time. Sleep may be one of the reasons for this.
Studies have reported that people who have a consistent sleep schedule have better mental skills like memory and recall. They are intelligent, confident, and brilliant in class and also in co-curricular activities. Having better concentration means they listen and understand complex things in a second. this is because of having an active and sound brain.
Studies also have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have their cognitive abilities screened because of being continuously tired7.
When you have numerous chores to accomplish in a day, you start compromising your sleep. You should give your body some rest as it needs relaxation to restore the lost energy levels.
Sleep helps to conserve energy and restore the functioning of both the brain and body. In other words, people who prioritize 8 hours of sleep perform better in their studies and at work.
4. Regulates Calories
If you are conscious about maintaining and achieving your ideal weight, you might have researched caloric balance. It is vital to monitor your caloric intake and balance the net calories to stay fit and healthy.
If you need to lose weight, regulating your sleep schedules might help along with other factors. A good sleep of 7 to 9 hours reduces the calories consumption of your body. Fragmented and short-duration sleep is associated with reduced REM sleep. It results in an increase in appetite and thus snacking. Some studies reflect that reduced sleep is one of the reasons for increasing obesity in recent years8.
5. Prevents Ailments
You cannot imagine how many benefits does a well-organized sleep has on your health. Sleep is a heterogeneous state of relaxation which comprises several stages, as discussed already. Disturbance in any phase of sleep may lead to problems, which you may overlook.
Stages 3 and 4 of sleep are called slow-wave sleep. Any factor that might affect these stages without influencing the whole sleep cycle increases the risk of diabetes mellitus type 28.
Sleep affects almost every system of the body. It helps to repair and relax your body for a while by modulating various cardiac, nervous, and endocrine functions. Sleep abnormalities increase the risk of cardiac impairments. There is a high association between arrhythmias and cardiac arrest with sleep anomalies.
Thus, consistent sleep hygiene is what your body deserves. Be a little kind to give your brain some rest9.
6. Prevents Depression
Inadequate sleep affects not only your physical health but also your mental status is highly influenced. Sleep-deprived individuals often suffer from mental issues like depression and stress. Decreased sleep lowers your cognitive performance and may silently predispose you to depressive illness.
Depression is the persistence of a low mood for weeks or even longer. Sleep deprivation is highly prevalent in medical students because of increased study load10.
Ways to Improve Your Sleep Schedule
Your daily activities are also affected by the quality and quantity of your sleep. Following are some simple tips to improve your quality of sleep11.
● Restrict Using Alcohol and Marijuana
You might think that having alcohol or some other sedative might assist you with sleeping. But that is not so. By consuming alcohol, you are knocking out your cortex. Unfortunately, it causes sleep fragmentation, which is frequent intervals of awakening during sleep. You will not feel restored after waking up. Another problem associated with alcohol and marijuana is that they block your REM sleep12. REM boosts emotional and mental health, so in its absence, you might feel distressed.
● Reduce Screen Time Before Sleeping
You might be the one who loves to relax at the end of the day watching TV or scrolling on social media. You are unknowingly deteriorating your sleep hygiene by doing so. These devices emit blue light that interferes with your circadian rhythm and triggers your brain to wake up13. Replace watching TV with reading books before going to bed to restore your internal body clock.
● Limit your Daytime Naps to less than 30 minutes
People who nap less in the day have a better sleep schedule.
● Limit Caffeine Use
Restrict caffeine intake to at least 6 hours before going to bed. If you are addicted to caffeine intake, you might challenge yourself to restrict its use for a week. Initially, you may feel tired, but gradually you will start liking your energy levels while you are off caffeine.
● Use Sleep-Restoring Products
If you are the one seeking a solution for your devastating sleep schedule, you may also opt for some sleep-restorative products. These induce relaxation and restore your sleep patterns. Bodytox Sleep Patches and essential oils are some of them. You can improve your sleep quality, reduce frequent sleep interruptions, and improve your mood with these products. They also energize various organs of your body and alleviate fatigue.
The Bottom Line
This article covered every aspect of sleep, from its mechanism to how you can improve its quality. After reading this, you may have realized that sleep is a vital part of your life you have been neglecting for a long time. Have some time for your mental health and improve your sleep hygiene by following the tips.
Your body cannot bear continuous loading without rest. If you continue doing so, you will end up wearing yourself out. Stop right here and ponder a little to avoid irreversible damage to your body and brain. Relaxing is the key to loving yourself.
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