Monday, 8 August 2011

Respecting the cycles

I'm not referring to bicycles or moon cycles but sleep cycles.

As I blogged last week, sleep is very important for your health. It's also easily disrupted and it's not hard to fall into short or light sleeping patterns which can in the long run really affect your health.

Something I read a couple of years ago in a health book was that sleep cycles are usually 1.5 hours and so to get the most restful and restorative sleep you must sleep for a multiple of this eg sleeping for 7.5 or 9 hours is better than sleeping for 8.

Whilst I have often observed that I wake up roughly within this pattern, I don't think it's necessarily a good idea to start setting an alarm clock so I don't sleep for longer than 7.5 hours (9hours sleep is wonderful but something that only happens occasionally)!

Instead I think it's important to respect your bodies natural sleep cycles. This means going to sleep when you feel tired, rather than powering through til late in the evening. It also means that if you wake naturally less than 45 minutes before you have to wake up then it's best to get up rather than going back to sleep.

If you go back to sleep you alarm is likely to wake you half way through a sleep cycle leaving you feeling groggy and tired for much of the morning. Dozing in bed may be appealing but if you get up when you wake you may find you have more energy than if you'd slept another half an hour - more isn't always better!

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