What is a Good Night’s Sleep Anyway?

by Americare Respiratory Services

In today’s world of high tech and seemingly non-stop availability of information, we strive to do more and in smarter ways. One of the areas that technology has really exploded is fitness. Fitness monitors are very popular, and they help us track our goals to improve our health. Sleep monitoring devices can tell us how we’re doing while we sleep, but what does a good night sleep look like, or more importantly, what does it feel like?

Everyone experiences the same five stages of sleep, but your sleeping pattern is unique. What your body needs for a good night sleep can vary from person to person, and a sleep monitor can aid in obtaining and assessing that information.  The technology can help you identify problems that may be affecting your sleep, and in turn, your overall health and wellbeing.  There are several types of sleep monitors to consider. Some are worn on the wrist. Others sit on the nightstand. And there are apps for your smart phone as well.

Generally, experts say 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night is a good rule of thumb for adults.  Infants, children, and teens need more sleep. But the kind of sleep are you get during those hours is most important.

Experts say there are five stages of sleep that we go in and out of during the night. 

Stage 1 - light sleep; we drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily

Stage 2 - eye movements stop and our brain waves become slower

Stage 3 – intermittent and extremely slow brain waves called delta waves

Stage 4 - the brain produces delta waves continuously

REM – (rapid eye movement) the eyes jerk rapidly in various directions, breathing becomes more rapid and irregular, heart rate and blood pressure increases

Ideally, we cycle through these stages several times throughout the night with each cycle lasting approximately 90 – 110 minutes, and the REM stage lasting longer with each consecutive cycle. 

Although this is useful information, experts say the best way to know you’re getting a good night sleep is in how you feel when you wake up. Do you feel refreshed, rested, and focused? Or do you feel sluggish and foggy? Do you suffer from sleep deprivation?

Along with a sleep monitoring device, keeping a log of what you eat, drink, and do during the latter part of your day can also be useful information. Document the number of hours you slept and how you feel upon waking. Other suggestions are to “wind-down” about 60-90 minutes before you go to bed. This means relaxing activities that are non-stimulating, such as listening to soft music, doing some light reading, or stretching and breathing exercises. Refrain from caffeine and alcohol three hours before bedtime.

Monitoring sleep habits has been around for quite a while in a lab setting. Sleep studies are conducted by trained healthcare professionals and can help diagnose sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

If you feel you may need further information on getting a good night’s sleep, the sleep professionals here at Americare Respiratory Services are knowledgeable and ready to help you today.  Give us a call or take a look at all the information in the sleep apnea blog section on our website.