Sleep Science

 Sleep - Science - Benefits, Music and sleep benefits - Different sleep states, meditation & sleep





Oh, to sleep. Who doesn't love to sleep? I don’t think anyone has ever complained about having to go to sleep! At night, in the middle of the morning, or soon after lunch, just like the famous ‘’siesta’’, sleeping is definitely something you must do, it’s an essential part of life. But did you know that there is scientific proof that states that sleeping helps you improve your day-to-day life as well?


Whenever you are awake from a good night’s sleep you feel more relaxed, balanced and why not, even happy! This is why newborns and babies sleep so much, as their bodies and brains actually recuperate some necessary energy while they are asleep.


Would you like to know more about this? Discover why sleeping is so good for you in the following article:





Sleep stages:



According to Sleep1 there are five sleeping stages that occur within one sleeping cycle, and, at the same time, there are two major phases that happen when one is asleep.


For example, the first phase is called Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM), so what your body does here is that it helps you build your muscle and bones while it also aids your immune system to recover if necessary. The stages are these:


  • Stage one (officially referred to as N1): is when you are only just falling asleep. It’s that time and place where you are not considered to be awake but you are not completely asleep either. You can easily wake up and sometimes you even feel like your muscles are twitching for no apparent reason.


  • Stage two (officially referred to as N2): is when your whole body starts responding to the cue of ‘’please fall asleep now’’. Your body will also decrease its temperature, while your heart rate slows as well. You are about to enter a stage of deep sleep - however, you are not there quite yet.

  • Stage three (officially referred to as N3): is when you are in a deep sleep state of mind and your body is completely relaxed. It is very difficult to wake up from this stage, as the waves your brain is sending are continuously telling your body to stay calm and asleep. Also, it is believed that during this stage is when your body is fully restoring itself, as this2 report suggest.



A couple of years ago, scientists used to make a distinction between stages three and four. However, since 2007 onwards stages three and four have been combined, and are now presented as N1, N2 and N3, as Livescience3 explains.


So, in NREM sleep the brain will go through exactly three stages that will then lead the individual to have the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) phase, which is considered according to some reports4 to be the phase where dreams happen.


It is, however, on the REM phase where scientists have focused even more. This phase commences around 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep. During this phase the eyes move rapidly as the eyelids are closed, the heart rate increases yet the body stays temporarily paralyzed as it navigates through dreams or lucid dreams.


When the four stages of NREM cycle and REM cycle are complete, then the cycle will repeat itself. In fact, this cycle will be repeated up to six times in one night. The only thing that will change is that the person will spend less time in stages one-to-three of NREM and, on the other hand, will spend more time in REM sleep. This is also the reason why some individuals seem to have - and to remember - several dreams in one night.






Meditation and sleep:



It is often said that meditation is good for your overall well-being, and there is no denying on that. But did you know that meditation can help with the treatment of insomnia? Or if you suffer from a sleep disorder then you should definitely consider trying meditation as you will surely see an improvement in your condition.



  • Meditation can help you sleep better: When you start meditating you will notice your heart rate could decrease as well. This happens as your body is soon finding itself feeling relaxed and at ease. If you try to shift your focus to your breathing, then you could understand how your mind-body-soul works through your meditation techniques. This is positive information for you, especially if you try to replicate this moment whenever you are having trouble sleeping.


  • Meditation means to be conscious: Being conscious is also being aware of the right now, that is to say, being aware of the present moment. Individuals tend to start overanalyzing their days’ and to think about everything they have to do as soon as they go to bed to...sleep!? So the last couple of thoughts a person has before finally falling asleep are usually related to their worries or problems. Imagine changing this and instead of thinking of all the negatives, you think about all the positives? How different would your night, and life be?.


  • Mindfulness throughout the day: But meditation doesn’t have to be set for a specific time of the day. Just like your sleeping habits could improve if you try to rest during the day as well, as this5 article suggests. In this context, there are limited treatments for adults who have sleep disturbances, and these problems could be improved by introducing mindfulness techniques to those individuals who are suffering from sleeping associated problems.






Benefits of sleeping:



  • Sleeping is a health issue: Did you know that people who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are more likely to have problems with their sleep/wake cycle? Not only do they sleep throughout the day for short periods of time, but they can also wake up and feel disorientated and not even remember where they are. According to Sleep Foundation6, patients with AD have disrupted circadian rhythms (those are our internal cues to know when to fall asleep and when to wake up. For example, as the sun goes down we start to feel tired, and when the sun goes up we start to be more awake).


  • Sleeping helps the immune system: According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, 7lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health. If you have problems sleeping then you may have a higher risk of falling ill or if you end up getting sick it will be difficult to get better and improve your health. This is also the reason why when you feel sick, what do you like to do? Of course, you like to sleep. This is your body telling you in a very subtle and intelligent way to ‘’go to bed, you need to rest and I need to recover’’.


  • Sleeping is also keeping your memories close to you: According to the National Sleep Foundation8, sleeping is important as it deletes irrelevant memories that you may have stored up. It will also help you to integrate old information you already hold with new information you are learning.



  • Sleeping will help you avoid psychosis: According to this9 article, having a good night sleep can also mean you will reduce the possibilities of suffering a psychotic episode. As the results have shown, sleep deprivation left healthy humans who had volunteered to do this study, feeling as if they had perceptual distortions and cognitive disorganization.


  • Sleeping is good for your metabolism: Have you ever noticed you are hungrier after a night of no sleep? Or perhaps if you go out with your friends until late at night/early in the morning, then the next day you feel as if you could eat the whole world and you would still have room for dessert? Exactly! This happens because you probably didn’t get enough sleep, as it has been studied that sleeping also helps maintain your metabolism in balance. As this10 study suggests, a lack of sleep could be the reason why your energy intake and expenditure differ. In other words, your metabolism could suffer all sorts of problems if you don’t get enough sleep.









Music to fall asleep:




Nowadays millions of people around the globe use their smartphones, laptops, tablets, radios or even bedside monitors to reproduce music that will - eventually - help them to fall asleep.


In fact, there is music that has a white noise background that it has been said to help in the production of melatonin (which is a hormone all human beings produce that adjusts the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm). This is why people use this type of music whenever they are jetlagged, as it could help them restore their sleeping patterns in no time.


However, it is fair to say that the sound of music has been used by different civilizations all over the world as it has healing properties, as it can make people feel as if they are in a trance or in a different state of consciousness, thus the use of music has therapeutic flares as well. As this11 article explains, music plays an important role in the physical, psychological and emotional state of a human being, and even though it is not exactly clear how music can help individuals to fall asleep, volunteers reported they felt better and had a goodnight’s sleep whenever they listened to their music recordings.





References:


  1. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019: https://www.sleep.org/articles/sleep-cycles-everything-you-need-to-know/

  2. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-science-of-sleep-understanding-what-happens-when-you-sleep

  3. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019:

https://www.livescience.com/59872-stages-of-sleep.html

4. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019:

https://www.livescience.com/59872-stages-of-sleep.html

5. Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):494–501. DOI:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081

6. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019:https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/alzheimers-disease-and-sleep

7. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

8. Accessed on the 23rd of july 2019: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/findings-reveal-brain-mechanisms-work-during-sleep

9. Nadine Petrovsky, Ulrich Ettinger, Antje Hill, Leonie Frenzel, Inga Meyhöfer, Michael Wagner, Jutta Backhaus and Veena Kumari. Journal of Neuroscience 2 July 2014, 34 (27) 9134-9140; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0904-14.201

10. Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine, 153(7), 435–441. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006

11. Trahan, T., Durrant, S. J., Müllensiefen, D., & Williamson, V. J. (2018). The music that helps people sleep and the reasons they believe it works: A mixed methods analysis of online survey reports. PloS one, 13(11), e0206531. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0206531


1 https://www.sleep.org/articles/sleep-cycles-everything-you-need-to-know/

2 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-science-of-sleep-understanding-what-happens-when-you-sleep

3 https://www.livescience.com/59872-stages-of-sleep.html

4Ídem.

5 Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(4):494–501.

6 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/alzheimers-disease-and-sleep

7 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

8 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/findings-reveal-brain-mechanisms-work-during-sleep

9Nadine Petrovsky, Ulrich Ettinger, Antje Hill, Leonie Frenzel, Inga Meyhöfer, Michael Wagner, Jutta Backhaus and Veena Kumari. Journal of Neuroscience 2 July 2014, 34 (27) 9134-9140.

10 Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of internal medicine, 153(7), 435–441. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-153-7-201010050-00006

11 Trahan, T., Durrant, S. J., Müllensiefen, D., & Williamson, V. J. (2018). The music that helps people sleep and the reasons they believe it works: A mixed methods analysis of online survey reports. PloS one, 13(11), e0206531.