The importance of sleep in mental and physical health

The need for sleep, which is one of the basic needs of humanity, is of great importance for our health, even if we are not aware of it. Sleeping too much as well as little sleep causes many psychological and physiological disorders and negatively affects our lives. Especially in these days when we start to spend more time at home due to the Corona epidemic, our sleep patterns begin to deteriorate more, which affects our energy and mood during the day.

Studies indicate that lack of sleep causes diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, obesity, and that the immune system is adversely affected due to lack of sleep and that the person is more susceptible to infections. In addition, this can lead to muscle aches, dizziness, nausea, tremors in the hands, headache, irritability, difficulty in remembering, feeling sleepy during the day, lack of attention, hallucinations and clumsiness.

Decreased sleep duration, difficulty in going to sleep, waking up early, increasing sleep duration, and not being able to wake up rested may indicate some psychological disorders. Many psychological problems such as depression, stress, problems experienced in environments such as family-work-school, anxiety disorder can cause sleep problems, and sleep problems can increase the severity of such disorders.

Sleep Cycle

The sleep period is divided into two. These are REM sleep and NREM sleep. The most important part of the sleep cycle is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. In REM sleep, where dreams occur, the brain and heart work faster. After the person falls asleep, the transition to REM sleep occurs approximately 30-40 minutes later, this period lasts for about 10-15 minutes, and the NREM period occurs again in the brain. The REM period repeats approximately every 90 minutes.

The NREM period is the part where there are no eye movements. About 75% of sleep is in this phase. During this phase, the heartbeat and breathing slow down.

The first time we fall asleep is when our sleep is the lightest. Then comes a deep sleep cycle in which dreams also occur. When we start to wake up, our sleep becomes lighter again.

Sleep Pattern Recommendations

90 Minute Rule: Each sleep cycle consists of 90 minutes and 4 stages. First of all, you should discover how many hours of sleep a day will be good for you by considering many factors. However, this sleep duration should be at least 6 hours and at most 9 hours for an adult. You must set the time you want to wake up and go back to your bedtime in 90-minute episodes. For example, a person who wants to wake up at 9.00 in the morning can set the sleep time as 01.30 at night (5 * 90 minutes = 7.5 hours sleep) to complete the 90-minute cycles. The important thing is to set the time between sleep time and wake up time in 90-minute cycles.

Make sure your sleeping and waking times are the same every day. Wake up early, even if you don’t have work in the morning.

Do not go to bed before you are sleepy. A warm shower will help you relax when you are not sleepy. Try to go to bed only when you feel sleepy. If you can’t fall asleep in bed within 20 minutes, get out of your bedroom and start some quiet activity elsewhere. Only go back to bed when you are sleepy.

Use your bedroom only for sleep and sexual intercourse.

Do not nap during the day. Sleeping during the day can disrupt your sleep at night.

The exercises you will do during the day will make your body tired and you will fall asleep more easily at night.

Avoid foods such as caffeine, fatty foods, and acidic beverages close to bedtime. However, being too hungry can cause you to lose sleep. Be careful to balance this.

Do not use alcohol to fall asleep.

Make sure your room is dark (thick curtains can be the solution), slightly cold (you can ventilate your room before going to bed) and quiet.

Paying attention to sleep hygiene, especially in this period when our immune system should be stronger, will make you more protected against the disease and also increase your psychological resilience. However, if you do not get a result despite following the sleep hygiene recommendations above, and if your sleep-related disorders persist for a long time (more than 1 month), you should consult a doctor. If these disorders are caused by a psychological reason (such as depression, stress, anxiety), applying to a psychiatrist and psychotherapist and focusing on these problems will also provide solutions to your sleep-related problems.

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