Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The importance of sleep

Getting a good nights sleep is one of the most important thing you can do for both your mind and your body.
This is where your body repairs and refreshes.
When you sleep, your body follows a sleep cycle of REM and non-REM sleep. This is called the ultradian sleep cycle. The different stages in sleep have different characteristics and effects. Each cycle takes approximately 90 minutes. It begins with light sleep and goes deeper before going light again.
There is a lot to cover here, so if you're interested, I urge you to look it up on your own. I will skip to the important stuff:
People seem to have a tendency to count their sleep in full hours. But to work with your body's natural cycle, try to calculate according to the 90 minute-cycle. Waking up in the middle of the deep sleep part as opposed to the light sleep can start of your day on the wrong foot. This is often where you wake up feeling cold and miserable instead of rested.
You may find yourself more refreshed from sleeping 7½ hours (5 full cycles) than 8 hours (5 and 1/3 cycle).
To further help your body's natural cycle, try not to have too big fluctuations in bedtime and when you get up. Don't sleep in more than an hour extra in the weekends. Of course you should enjoy your days off, but sleeping in too much will mess with the cycle your body has build up during the workdays.

Tips for hair
Getting good sleep is so much more important than any damage you might do to your hair, so always ignore a tip if it will interfere with the quality of your sleep!

Fun hair and sleep facts
Lack or sleep or bad sleep quality is known to cause hair loss
It's also said that during sleep is where your hair grows the fastest.

Protecting your hair
During the night, your hair will rub on pillows and sheets, and maybe even get caught between your body and the surface under you. To minimize this, there is three things you can do:
  • Sleep on smooth fabric like satin or silk. Or look into a sleep cap of some sort. Maybe even consider wearing a silk shirt for when your hair gets caught between your body and the surface under you. What way you should go depends entirely on what you find comfortable
  • Contain your hair (In a braid or bun) in a way that points "away" from the pillow. As in: If you sleep on your back, dont wear a single braid at the neck. If you sleep on your sides, dont wear double braids.
  • If your hair is long enough to be caught under your shoulders or below, consider looping the braid up
Always contain your hair in one way or another during the night: Braid or bun, it doesn't matter. Just make sure it's contained in a way that will minimize the detangling you need to do the next day. Detangling causes mechanical damage, so getting into a good habit will make a difference in accumulated damage. It drastically adds up when your hair has to survive for something like a decade!

Igor's personal recommendation
I absolutely cannot sleep on silk or satin. It's too smooth and slippery and often feels cold to the touch. There is just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. But, there is a lot of difference in cottons, so I pick something that feels soft and has "slip". 
Remember: Be kind to your skin and change the covers often, so you don't rub in your own old dirt. If you have troublesome or sensitive skin, you may want to change the pillow cover every day or every other day.

Treating your hair
While you sleep, why not add some treatment to your hair?
It's as simple as adding a bit of oil or conditioner to your ends, then putting a thin plastic bag over and securing it with a bandage. Rinse out the next morning.
Just make sure it doesn't disturb your sleep.

Tips for better sleep
First of all: Make your bed and bedroom a place you want to be. 
Buy a mattress that feels comfortable to you. Have a bed frame that fits you (and your partners) lengths and sleeping patterns. Seek out information on what type of pillows you should get as this depends on what kind of sleeper you are. Do you prefer light blankets over you or do you feel calmer with more weight? How warm is it comfortable for you to be? Consider having at least two sets of covers for the different seasons.
Make your bedroom comfy and clean. Keep out the disturbing clutter and don't use your bedroom as a storage room. Also, you may want to try cleaning everything you can clean around the bed: Vacuum the mattress, dust the structure of the bed frame everywhere and wash everything you can. 
Just think about how large a portion of your day you spend in the bed or bedroom: Is that reflected in how you prioritize furniture and decoration? 
Get yourself some soft and comfy sleepwear too. Nothing that bunches up or twists uncomfortably. Sexy is not a priority, being comfortable so you sleep well is.

Make a ritual
Consider making a bedtime ritual. It can help kick your body and mind into "unwind" mode and sleep faster. 
Why not make it something that will further help you sleep?
First step of the bedtime ritual should be to put down the phones, shut down the computers and turn off the TV. No monitors on an hour before bed. (Igor says: Impossible, I know! Some sources even say two! It's just not possible for me. I make it the first step in my "Get my ass to bed" routine, and it can't get better than that with my work and nerdy lifestyle.)The light suppresses melatonin, which makes you sleep better.
As a side note: If you wake up to pee in the middle of the night, go to the bathroom without turning on the light. The sudden shock of bright light can seriously mess with your ability to fall back asleep and the sleep quality after.
Air out to lower the temperature and get fresh air in.
Have a pamper-ritual where you apply moisturizer or do something else so you wake up beautiful. Or how about a nice, warm bath ro help you relax?
Why not check that everything that should be "off" really is off? A routine like that can save you on the energy bill. 

White noise
It can seem like a strange idea to add more noise to your bedroom. But it works because external noise (Noisy neighbors, traffic, animals etc) is blended into the white noise and becomes less noticeable. It literally makes your brain pay less attention to the offending noise.
It's always the context of the noise that makes you react: If you're already annoyed at the neighbors noises, if a car suddenly honks it's horn or a dog starts barking. The noises you know and are used to doesn't cause a reaction, some times you might not even notice them.
The principle of adding extra noise is called "sound masking" because the offending noises are masked, rather than drowned out.
You can find many different resources for white noise. They seem to fall in different categories:
  • Ambient soundscapes: Spacestations (I know, lol), well known background noises from TV shows, movies or games, interior noises from airplanes, crackling campfires, crowd noise etc.
  • Machinery noises: Fans, air conditioning units, washing machine, heaters, vaccum cleaners, hair dryers, lawn sprinklers, traffic noises etc.
  • Nature sounds: Rain, ocean waves, crickets chirping, jungle noises, birds singing, waterfalls, thunder, wind etc
When picking a white noise to try, ask yourself what you think will work for you:
Do you need the sound to be monotonous or can it vary?
More treble or bass?
Any noises that triggers a happy or relaxing memory?

If you're okay with leaving a computer on all night, try on youtube.
Relaxing White Noise videos offer 120+ videos all over 10 hours long with different white noises, usually in the nature genre.
Or try Crysknife007 videos with hundreds of videos. They are more sci-fi and science oriented and often very specific in the frequency.

Igor's personal recommendation
Yogayak videos offers lots of yoga videos (Why not do some yoga before bed to stretch and soothe?) and relaxing white noise videos with nature sounds. A lot of them with added healing music or frequencies to the mix. They combine different series of background sounds with a 174 Hz tone for reducing pain and Solfeggio frequencies for different effect.
I honestly find this channel very interesting and recommend giving them a try. 


I like something like this: Some bass and rather monotonous. No screaming monkeys, chirping birds or insects to disturb the peace. (I never got how anyone could find that relaxing?) 
This one has the 852 Hz Solfeggio for returning to spiritual order.


This one is very monotonous and has a lot of bass. It almost has a "static" kind of noise to it. I prefer the "deeper" sounds to put me to sleep.

Relaxing incense etc.
Strangely, our ability to react to smells changes when we’re asleep. Studies have found that unlike sounds, smells won’t wake us up. This is literally why you need firealarms: The smell of a burning building wont wake you up.
Therefore: Calming scents works only for before you fall asleep. This doesn't mean that they don't serve a purpose, but the effect stop once you're asleep.

A drink won't help you
I don't think I need to put too much energy into talking about caffeine. Don't eat and drink right before sleeping either (But also, don't go to bed hungry). But it some seems to think that an alcoholic drink will help you relax and sleep. But REM sleep is greatly reduced with just two drinks. It also adds a tendency to wake up more often and therefore disturb the ultradian sleep cycle.

Humidity
While you're at it, why not do yourself a favor and add some humidity while you sleep? Dry air is known to irritate sinuses and throat, making your eyes dry and itchy and making your skin dry. It may even cause nosebleeds A study has also found that influenza virus can survive longer in dry air.
The ideal humidity level is around 40-60% depending on the sources.
You don't have to invest in a humidifier. Something as simple as a damp towel on the radiator can make a difference.

Multitasking: Beauty while you sleep
Why not multitask and do something for your beauty?


BB 2015 Fall/winter episode 5: Healing beauty
The episode focuses on stress relief and relaxation.
The sleep and relaxation-part with products begins at about 8 minutes.


Get it beauty: Sleeping beauty 1/2
Beauty products you can use before or during your sleep.


Get it beauty: Sleeping beauty 2/2
Mostly makeup focused, but part two of the show.

Igor's personal recommendation
My skin dislikes sleeping with heavy products. It has a comodogenic effect for me and I always wake up to irritation.

Dr. Hauschka recommends sleeping with a completely bare face so your skin can "breathe". (Good advice, but the brand doesn't work for me) For those with dry skin, this might not be possible. Try with toner alone if you can, or maybe an essence or a light lotion. If you do like your nigh creams, no problem. But maybe you can alternate nights and see how your skin reacts?

6 comments:

  1. Install f.lux on your computer - it will redden the light emitted. It is the blue light that breaks down the melatonin. For android phones, there is the app Twilight which does the same.

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    1. Ooooh. That's brilliant! Thank you for the tip!

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  2. Fact: Drinking lots of water before bed will mess up your sleep cycle
    Fact: Listen to nature sounds prior to using (let's just say I was using one and was almost asleep...and then a loud squaking bird just about sent me through the ceiling. Ok, I laughed a lot, but still)
    Fact: If you can't sleep, getting up and writing down things going through your mind WILL help
    Fact: Your body will sleep when it needs it.
    Fact: You can go a long way on little sleep.
    I've suffered from insomnia since I was six. I'm someone who only needs a solid six hours of sleep. Trouble is, I rarely get that. So, I manage and add in a 2 hr power sleep if I work evenings. My biggest issue is if I'm over tired, I will crash hard, get my allotted hours of needed sleep, and be awake...usually in that six hours. Or less ;)

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    1. Awesome tips, thank you!
      (And really, no kidding about listening through the track first. Nothing like waking up to some sudden noise they couldn't be bothered to put in the description!)

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  3. Wonderful wisdom from Lady Igor. Thanks for the information! ♥

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    1. Thank you for your kind words :)

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