Brain Waves to Sleep

eweber   October 7, 2008   15 Comments

Dream of finer sleep? Read on…

In a normal sleep cycle, EEGs show the brain slows down progressively over a thirty minute period. After that point, the brain shifts into a  trance-like sleep known as REM, or rapid eye movement state. Without enough deep sleep, or REM, people are prone to workplace disasters caused by sleep deprivation.

Serious accidents – from poor sleep – show how we act slower, and often get it wrong.  How so?

The Bhapol explosion on December 2, 1984, for instance, shot poisonous gas that killed over 6000 people. Then, two years later, on April 26th, the Chernobyl explosion exposed millions to radioactivity 100 more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Sadly, on March 24th, 1989, 12 million gallons of crude oil gushed from Exxon Valdez and wiped out sea life across Prince William Sound.

Sleep problems as well as related accidents are more common than most people realize, and so it’s no surprise that sleep-deprived people also succumb more to sickness. Research shows 51% of the American workforce feels exhausted at work.

Sleep disorders hurt both groups and individuals. Organizations pay more than $100 billion in lost productivity we are told. People pay in personal problems such as depression,  anxiety, or human failure.

Does sleep work well for you? If so, you likely benefit from all three 30 minute cycles, as they play out and replay several times throughout a good night’s rest. Think of ideal sleep in 90 minute segments, that replay consistently for about 7 to 8 hours.  When it functions well, the process rewires your brain’s dendrite brain cells in unique ways.

In the first 30 minutes you’ll sleep rather lightly, which is why 20 minute power naps work especially well during the day.

In the second 30 minute segment, REM takes over and allows your brain to restore levels of oxygen to the cornea, while you dream. Avoid waking in REM, unless you’re prepared to feel like a Mack truck rammed into you, and then left you groggy for much of the day.

In the third 30 minute phase, your brain shifts backs into lighter sleep, and if awakened in this phase, you’ll like feel frisky and ready to take on a new day.

Successful sleepers learn to increase their sleep benefits in several ways. Simply plan to sleep in 90 minute chunks, for instance, and you’ll avoid waking in any REM phase throughout the sleep cycle. darken the room and your brain releases more melatonin for better sleep. Avoid too much food or drink close to bedtime and be careful what medications you take late at night. Then, enhance your sleep by planning to awaken in the lighter cycle that either precedes or follows REM sleep.

Did you also know that you tend to sleep about the same time each night, and your brain no longer needs an alarm clock when you retire about the same time nightly. That’s because the human brain comes equipped with its own alarm once it learns your patterns.

Luckily, new research shows how sleep debts can be repaid! To ward off negative effects of snooze loss, experts tell us to simply repay any outstanding slumber debts, once life quietens down a bit. If you stay up too late during the week, sleep in a bit more on weekends. If last week saw you moonlighting on a few occasions, crawl under the covers early a few nights this week.

For those who need help with more serious sleep dysfunctions, new research and supports come in frequently at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. For instance, it was discovered quite recently that sleep deprivation can also raise the risk of cardiovascular problems.

At Sleepeducation, you’ll find many more solutions than I could pack into one brief blog.  It’s all about answers to keep you in sweeter dreams at night, and peak performances during your  workday.

15 thoughts on “Brain Waves to Sleep

  1. Jean Browman--Transforming Stress

    I had insomnia for years—I did fine if I could take a short nap during the day. Now for some reason I sleep through the night as long as I get enough exercise to be physically tired when I go to bed. I think our culture is crazy for implying we can always do more.

  2. eweber Post author

    Thanks Jean, you build a great case for the interaction between fitness and sleep. Exercise is also good for the brain, but have you noticed also that it tends to work best earlier in the day, and less well near the time we retire.

  3. rummuser

    I am glad that I came to this site. I am beginning to understand myself quite a bit!

    I am one of nature’s favorites, I think. I have never had any problems with my sleep. If anything, I find it difficult to stay awake during boring events. I can sleep anywhere, any time. My internal alarm also works quite efficiently, thanks to my having been a traveling salesman for many years.

    I just need to analyze now and see in how many chunks I sleep.

    I also agree with Jean that if you are physically tired, sleep will not be a problem.

    rummusers last blog post..Middle Class Patriotism In The USA And India.

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  11. samantha shoults

    I know when I don’t get enough sleep, I am cranky and unpleasent to be around so what I have learned to do is get rest and drink pleanty of water, it helps .

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