and dreams occur as eyes dart back and forth; bodies become immobile and relaxed; muscles shut down; breathing and heart rate may become irregular; important to daytime performance and may contribute to memory consolidation.
*Time spent in these states and stages of sleep varies by age.
Getting in Rhythm to Enhance the Benefits of Sleep
Establishing a regular bed and wake time helps promote sleep by getting you in sync with your circadian clock so that you experience all of these sleep stages. Here are some additional practical tips for promoting quality sleep:
TIPS FOR GOOD SLEEP
- Avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) and nicotine (cigarettes, tobacco products) close to bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol as it can lead to disrupted sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but complete your workout at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Establish a regular relaxing, not alerting, bedtime routine (e.g. taking a bath or relaxing in a hot tub).
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet and preferably cool and comfortable.
If you are having sleep problems or regular daytime sleepiness, it is helpful to use a sleep diary published by the National Sleep Foundation to record your sleep patterns and the amount of sleep you get. A sleep diary helps you examine some of your health and sleep habits so that you and your doctor can pinpoint any causes of poor sleep.
Our 24/7 Society and Nature’s Clock
The Perils of Shift Work
With around-the-clock activities, our 24/7 society can keep us from allocating enough time for sleep or put us on irregular schedules. Feeling sleepy is a common experience, particularly for over 20 million American shift workers. The body never adjusts to shift work! Working nontraditional schedules is a risk for on-the-job accidents and car crashes. It is often difficult to get quality sleep during the day and support from others is important. To help themselves adapt, shift workers can follow the sleep tips at left and create a good sleep environment at home during non-working hours.
Jet Lag Shifts Your Sleep Schedule
As many Americans travel across time zones for