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Published on February 26, 2018

Know The 5 Stages Of Sleep For Better Rest

Know The 5 Stages Of Sleep For Better Rest

We get it. There’s nothing better than an extra 30 minutes of sleep on a warm, cozy bed.

But did you know that it could actually make you more tired?

I know, it sounds counterintuitive. More sleep = more tired doesn’t seem like an equation that makes sense, but hear me out.

After launching my language learning company, Rype, my sleep was completely out of wack. Some nights I would only get 2-3 hours of sleep, while other nights I would get 10, and still feel exhausted. If you can relate, I hope to share the 5 different stages of sleep we all experience, and some actionable tips to help you sleep better!

The 5 Stages of Sleep

It turns out that there are 5 major sleep stages that we all go through during the night. Starting with…

Stage 1 (NREM)

In this first stage, you’re in a NREM (non-rapid eye moment) stage. This is when you’re floating in and out of consciousness. It’s that moment when you feel awake but you also notice your mind is drifting away. You may also feel your muscle jerk that wakes you up into consciousness, also known as hypnic myoclonia.

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Stage 2 (NREM)

Stage 2 is when you start to enter the lighter phases of sleep. About half of our sleep time is spent during this NREM stage. This is when your muscle and heart rate begins to relax, and your brain slowly dwindles down.

Stage 3 & 4 (NREM)

These next two stages are combined as they have very similar effects on your sleep, called slow wave sleep (SWS). This is known as the deepest part of the sleep cycle, and one must not be woken up during this stage. If you’ve ever been abruptly woken up in a groggy state, you were probably experiencing slow wave sleep.

The other reason why SWS is vital is because the body rejuvenates itself during this stage. Growth hormones are released, which is used to heal muscle and tissues, and provides important oxygen and nutrients to the body.

Fun fact: these are also the stages when children (or adults) experience sleep walking and bedwetting.

Stage 5 (REM)

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This is the final stage of the sleep cycle, and the only stage where you experience REM (rapid eye moment) sleep. While we only spend 20% of our time during this stage, it’s when the brain is most active. It’s likely the most important stage as well because the brain is revitalized for daytime functioning.

The majority of our dreams are also occuring in this final stage of sleep, and the brain waves appear as if we’re awake.

How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

The real question is, how do we actually sleep better? I’ve spent hundreds of dollars and hours experimenting with different solutions, and these are the best tips I have found to be helpful.

1. Block blue light

In the digital world we live in today, the majority of poor sleep quality is due to what’s known as blue light. Studies show that we spend on average 10.5 hours a day in front of our screens (i.e. smartphones, TV, laptops) [1]. Each of these screens emit harmful blue light that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormone. In short, this tricks our brain to feel ‘awake’ when we should be in relaxed mode.

    The best way to combat this effectively is to invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) that you can wear while you work, and 90 minutes before you sleep.

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    Recommended: iGOTHAM Eyewear

    2. Adjust your room temperature

    Sleep experts have shown that room temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for the best sleep. A room with extreme temperatures leads to more frequent awakenings and lighter sleep.

    This can be extremely difficult if you have a sleeping partner, which is why I recommend Chilipad. It’s a heating and cooling pad that you place underneath your bedsheets. Best of all, you can place it just on your side of the bed so you can customize the best temperature for you, without disturbing your sleeping partner.

    Recommended: Chilipad

    3. Optimize for REM sleep

    Given how important REM sleep is in our sleep stage, we should optimize our sleep time around it. The best way to do that is to

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    It turns out that our sleep cycle contains a REM stage every 90 minutes. That means if you know when you want to wake up (ex. 6 am), then you want to work backwards in 90 minute increments to find out when to sleep.

    If your goal is to wake up at 6 am, then you will likely need to fall asleep at 10:30 pm or 12:00 am to meet the 90 minute rule. You can also use a sleep calculator to make this process more automated.

    Recommended: Sleepyti.me (sleep calculator)

    Next steps

    I hope this was useful for those of you that struggle with getting quality sleep in your life. As someone who has struggled with insomnia, these tips are dear to my heart.

    Like many of you, I procrastinated on taking action in improving my sleep. But I can tell you from personal experience the positive impact it has had in my life, once I put these tips into action.

    My recommendation is to try out at least one of these tips. Once you notice the positive effects in your sleep, you can try another, and so forth.

    If you are a struggling night owl, read here to learn tips on how to get more rest.

    Reference

    [1]IGOTHAM: Our Story

    More by this author

    Sean K.

    Founder and CEO of Rype and The Growth List, frequent contributor at Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Next Web, and host of #SKIMLive.

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    Published on July 17, 2018

    20 Tips to Get Your Bedtime Routine Started for a Better Tomorrow

    20 Tips to Get Your Bedtime Routine Started for a Better Tomorrow

    “Today is tomorrow’s yesterday,” the quote says and it rings true from North to South, from West to East. And if we want to have a productive and energetic today, we need to prepare it yesterday. If we learn from yesterday, we can live today and we’ll even have time to plan for tomorrow.

    The best way to jumpstart your day isn’t the first thing you do in the morning – but the last thing you do the night before. And here is a list of 20 tips that you can use for your bedtime routine to start the next morning energetic and productive:

    1. Create your bedtime routine

    In the words of late Jim Rohn:

    “Simple things are simple to do but they are also simple not to do.”

    The first thing to start with is by actually creating a bedtime routine. By this, I don’t mean just being a victim of consequences like kids, late dinners or office tasks that need to be done.

    By creating a bedtime routine, you consciously create a set of behaviors that you will do (or not do) before you fall asleep that night.

    In the beginning, it only needs to be a single thing that you adhere to like no laptop in the bed or TV for only 30 minutes or hitting at sack at 11:30 pm max.

    And you can use the following tips to optimize your bedtime routine.

    2. Play music

    Music has a variety of effects on our bodies. First of all, our bodies are 70% water and vibrations affect us physiologically. There was a research done by Dr. Masaru Emoto who studied the effects that music has on the structure of frozen water molecules.

    By playing certain (soothing) music, you will feel relaxed and prepared for sleep. I personally use post-rock (piano) songs playlist which include songs like “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions In The Sky, everything from Anthony Greninger and The XX.

    Now, it’s all about finding the perfect music for you. You need to find your own rhythm, so try out a lot of different songs and categories and see what fits you the best.

    3. Read a book

    This one is a bit tricky – you should be reading a book before you sleep but not something which is hard to understand and needs a lot of straining from your conscious mind.

    It’s best to read something lighter before bedtime because it will put your mind in a nice rhythm and will induce you into a qualitative sleep.

    This doesn’t mean that you should read things like 50 Shades of Grey (no, please no), but don’t go reading “Gödel, Escher, Bach: and Eternal Golden Braid” by Douglas Hofstadter either.

    Pick something that interests you and is quite easy to read like “How To Win Friends & Influence People” or biographies like “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing.

    4. Put on your pajamas

    When you jump into your sleeping clothes, you signal your mind and body to shut down and go into “sleep mode.”

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    Try to have a set of pajamas always prepared next to your bed and never go under the sheets with your house or work clothes.

    5. Plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow

    This is something Leo Babuta talked a lot. When you plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow, you immediately eliminate unnecessary decisions from tomorrow’s day.

    When you remove decision making from the day, all that’s left is to just do that activity.

    This is backed by research about ego depletion, where making decisions throughout the day depletes our willpower, making us less likely to do the activities.

    But if you prepare them in advance (decide and write down that you’ll do it), you will be more likely to do them.

    So plan out your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow and sleep like a baby, knowing what you will do tomorrow.

    6. Write a journal

    “Dear diary….” or you can start any other way. But this isn’t a six-grade school girl writing who she has a crush on. This is about reflecting on what happened to you today, how that activity made you feel and your general impression of the day.

    Here’s a how-to guide on how to start writing a journal:

    Writing Journal for a Better and More Productive Self (The How-To Guide)

    7. Prepare clothes for tomorrow

    We talked about ego depletion when planning the next day. It’s the thing with the clothes you will wear tomorrow.

    When you prepare things for the next morning, your mind won’t go into “freak” mode, trying to remember everything you need to do in the morning like finding clothes for work, making breakfast, finishing that presentation, checking the valve pressure, changing the car oil, saving the world…

    When you prepare for the morning in advance, you sleep better because you don’t have those menial tasks like clothes hovering around your head.

    8. Turn off your WiFi

    The word of the 21st century is connectedness and it’s great – we are more connected than ever. But this doesn’t mean that you need to be connected 24/7.

    During the night, you should definitely turn off your WiFi and be unavailable. This makes your brain rest and doesn’t put you in that always-available-state, where you’re always prepared for that email or message.

    Just leave it for the morning – 99% of things can wait. And if it’s that 1% that can’t wait, trust me, they will find a way to contact you.

    9. Watch entertainment

    Throughout the day, you should be working, learning and pushing yourself. But when the night comes, you need to reward yourself for the activities and accomplishments of the day – because you deserve it.

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    So take 30-45 minutes and simply watch entertainment without feeling guilty – you can even watch a good movie. I have my entertainment nights on Friday where I watch gaming tournaments on YouTube – just a big fan of League of Legends.

    10. Do mindfulness exercise like meditation

    Mindfulness doesn’t have to be meditation, but meditation is almost always mindfulness.

    Mindfulness trains your mind to become present and aware of the things and people that surround you. This makes you forget about the worries of the future and the regrets of the past and makes you live in the present.

    Mindfulness as a bedtime routine helps you clear out your mind and makes you fall asleep easily, without those pesky regrets and worries sneaking up on you when you finally hit the sack.

    Find out more about how Meditation Can Change Your Life: The Power of Mindfulness.

    11. Evaluate your today

    You planned out the 3 most important tasks that you need to do today. Now, it’s time to evaluate those tasks.

    This is the time for self reflection, and Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life.

    So sit down and evaluate if you managed to accomplish the 3 tasks that you set up the night before.

    12. Write down 3 things that happened today (not gratefulness)

    This is a really good exercise because it’s not woo-woo like gratefulness or unstructured as a diary.

    This is about making a history book out of your life- something your grandkids might read upon and see how your life looked like.

    Writing down 3 things that happened today makes you simply record 3 events that happened on the day, with or without your judgment about them (good or bad, positive or negative).

    After 3-6 months, you can read upon these and summarize them to create a timeline of your life and after a year, summarize it again.

    This will create a timeline of your life, with all major events that happened written down. It will also make you more self-aware about the things happening every single day.

    13. Drink water

    Quality of sleep depends a lot on the hydration of our bodies. If you feel the thirst, it means you are already dehydrated.

    The sacred rule I adhere to for a quality bedtime routine is one glass of water before bed and one glass of water as soon as I wake up.

    Take a look at this article to find out How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You).

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    14. Cool off the room

    Setting the right conditions for sleep are optimal for a quality-like sleep and productive and energetic day.

    You need to sleep in a colder, dark and silent room. The quality of mattress and pillow also contribute to good sleep and even better mornings.

    You might want to consider investing in a sleeping mask, good mattress and an even better pillow – it makes a big difference.

    Here’s a guide on how to choose a good mattress:

    Your Essential Guide To Buying The Right Mattress

    15. Don’t eat heavy food

    Eating that late night dinner at 10:30 pm and then going back home trying to fall asleep is like getting drunk and trying to walk the line – you think you can do it until you actually try it.

    A big dinner and heavy food before bedtime keeps your stomach working 24/7 and prevents it from having any rest during the night. This affects the quality of sleep and makes you feel groggy before you fall asleep and extends to when you wake up.

    Remove heavy food from your night meals and look at how your energy spikes in the morning – I did it six months ago and I am never going back to it.

    Check out more food options to help you sleep here:

    12 Bedtime Snacks/Drinks That Can Help You Sleep Better

    16. Avoid exercise before sleep

    You shouldn’t exercise 3 hours before bedtime – it wakes up your entire body and prepares you for a physical activity.

    Exercise is for morning or tops afternoon – the night is for relaxing bedtime routine activities.

    However, you can try to stretch your body to help relax your nerves before going to sleep:

    6 Yoga Poses You Can Do In Bed Before Sleeping For Better Health

    17. Go to bed at the same time

    Training your body and mind to shut down at the same time is beneficiary because it learns when you don’t need energy and when you do. This makes your energy usage more effective because you are 100% active when you need it and 0% active when you don’t need it.

    Most people work on a 50-60% active energy, always being active but never being on their top game. If you train your body and mind to shut down after, let’s say, 11:00 pm, then it will reward you with energy spikes in the morning and afternoon.

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    And the easiest way to accomplish this is by going to bed at the same time.

    18. Optimize sleep cycles

    Tips 17. and 18. are closely connected.

    Sleep cycles consist of 1.5-hour rotations, where you finish one round of sleeping after 1.5 hours of sleeping and start over again. The best time to wake up is when a sleep cycle ends and just before the next starts.

    So to optimize your sleep cycles, you should wake up after 5 or 6 sleep cycles, respectively after 7.5 or 9 hours of sleep. This is when you will feel the most energetic.

    Hitting your sleep cycles at the beginning is quite hard but when you always fall asleep at the same time, your body will adjust to it and will make you hit them.

    For more tips, here’s How to Hack Your Sleep Cycle and Get Better Sleep.

    19. Work on your passion project

    Nothing brings more satisfaction to a person than seeing a dream, a vision which only lived inside of a person mind come to life. And working on a passion project is exactly that – you are making a reality out of your vision or a dream.

    You can allocate 20-30 minutes a night to work on your passion project. This will make the feeling of accomplishment even stronger and will affect the quality of your sleep by a handful.

    If you think you’re too busy to do what you’re passionate about, here’re 7 Ways You Can Make Time For Your Passion.

    20. Spend time with loved ones

    The biggest factor that contributes to a happy and fulfilled life are relationships – with friends, family and loved ones.

    At the end of a long, arduous day, you should spend time with your loved ones- the people with whom you can share your happy but also your sad moments.

    A path to many starts with one

    Not all of these 20 tips will make sense to you and they shouldn’t. You should pick out one and start with that and then, add up another one.

    Test what works for you and what makes sense and you will soon see the difference in your energy and productivity.

    Just remember – the path to many starts with only a single one. Start with one and create a bedtime routine for a better tomorrow.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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