Programme: How to sleep better
To understand what is behind advice about sleeping better, it helps to have a general idea of what is happening when you sleep. What exactly is going on in your body at the moment you drop off into dreamland?
It all begins with the body. Everything in our body follows a rhythm, from our heart and breathing to our digestion. These rhythms are controlled by our internal biological clock. This ‘clock’ ensures that all the rhythms in our bodies are synchronised and that they are in tune with daytime and nighttime. Our biological clock uses a sleep hormone called melatonin. Melatonin is what makes us feel ready to sleep. It is created in the dark and broken down by light. It ensures that you gradually become more tired as your body prepares for sleep.
Our biological clock and our sleep rhythm can be influenced and disturbed by many things - the changing seasons, personal preferences and external factors such as work, irregular shifts and young children, for example. A disturbance in our biological clock can lead to a disturbed sleep rhythm.
The phases of sleep
It is not only falling asleep that can be a challenge. A lot happens between the moment when you fall asleep and the moment you wake up. Even though we are resting, our brain is incredibly active during this period. Here is a quick explanation:
There are four sleep phases:
A cycle of four phases of sleep lasts around 90 minutes. The cycle is repeated numerous times during the course of the night.
Watch this film for a detailed explanation of the sleep phases
“The best way to fall asleep is to tell yourself that it’s time to get up”
(Groucho Marx, American actor, 1895-1977).
Answer these questions and share your answers with your online psychologist, your partner and/or a friend:
1. What does your sleep pattern look like at the moment?
2. What is a typical night’s sleep like for you? Ask yourself:
A. How many hours do I sleep on average?
B. How many sleep cycles do I usually complete?
C. When do I typically wake up?
D. Do I often remember my dreams?
3. Is there anything you would like to change about your sleep pattern? If so, what?
4. If you share a bed or a room with someone, discuss how your sleep patterns might be influencing each other in either positive or negative ways.New to OpenUp? Welcome