Sleep is a naturally occurring condition of the body and mind, characterized by reduced sleep activity, fairly decreased sensory activities, decreased motor activity and behavioral inhibition during rapid eye movement sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), and decreased social interactions with other individuals during non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). In most adults, sleep frequency is twice per day, but this changes with age. In the earliest years of life, sleep duration is very short. As children and adults approach middle age, sleep duration begins to increase to about three hours per night, and then increases about four hours per night through the night.
There are many factors that can affect a person’s sleep pattern, including heredity, stress, aging, circadian rhythm, and circadian timing, to name a few. In general, people are less active during daytime, have reduced sleep efficiency at night, have greater difficulty falling asleep in the morning, experience greater difficulty staying asleep after waking up in the evening, and wake up feeling less rested than they did before going to bed. These factors can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which are normally adjusted to help the body adapt to external stimuli such as light and environmental temperature. The circadian rhythm is sensitive to extraneous stimuli and the body’s internal clock. When the body’s internal clock becomes out of sync, it leads to poor judgment and excessive stress, which in turn, contributes to sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleepwalking, and sleep apnea.
The body’s circadian rhythms are also sensitive to environmental stimuli, such as light, temperature, and stress, which can interfere with the body’s natural sleep rhythms. Some people are naturally better sleepers than others, according to research. People who exercise, practice relaxation, meditate, watch television, or play video games tend to be highly effective sleep starters, due to the positive effect of exercise on the heart rate and cognitive processes. A weak internal clock can lead to lack of sleep or the inability to sleep well at all.
The best way to combat this problem is to go to sleep at the same time each night and awaken at the same time each day. This will keep your circadian rhythm on track. If you work the graveyard shift, it’s even more important to follow this routine, since many workers have a difficult time falling asleep in the morning. This sleep cycle should be about six hours long, so try to schedule your sleep cycles at about the same times each week. However, if you work the graveyard shift, you may need to experiment with different sleep cycles.
It’s hard to get to sleep when you’re dehydrated, don’t eat enough food, or your sleep cycle is interrupted. People who are chronically dehydrated don’t have enough water in their body to make it to the correct brainwave activity for sleep. This sleep disorder results in restless sleep and frequent awakening. People who eat a healthy, balanced diet that provides the right amount of nutrients and exercise aren’t as likely to suffer from this condition.
The other common sleep disorder involves the inability to stay awake long enough to hit the snooze button. People suffering from sleep apnea find it hard to stay awake for the five to eight seconds needed to go to sleep. In these cases, a person will start to feel fatigued and they’ll need to go to the bathroom several times during the day, which disrupts their daily routine. It’s not uncommon for people to go to work tired and wake up tired. They have no idea why they feel so tired, but it could be due to their sleep onset rhythm.