Use targeted breathing exercises before bed to improve your sleep patterns and recharge your body during the night.
Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. This can impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories. Most adults require between seven and nine hours of nightly sleep. Children and teenagers need substantially more sleep, particularly if they are younger than five years of age. Work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a disruptive bedroom environment, and medical conditions can all prevent us from getting enough sleep. A healthy diet and positive lifestyle habits can help ensure an adequate amount of sleep each night allowing the body to really rest and heal itself.
Understanding the different stages of sleep:
With years of study scientists have discovered that sleep is broken down into several stages. The first 3 stages are known as (NREM) non-rapid eye movement and the last stage is known as (REM) rapid eye movement.
Stage 1 NREM marks the beginning of transition from the wakeful state to the sleeping state and consists of light sleep. The muscles of the body will begin to relax, and the rate of the heart will begin to slow down along with eye movements and breathing. As this occurs the brain begins its journey of slowing or cycling down. This stage only lasts several minutes under healthy conditions.
Stage 2 NREM is typically where deeper sleep begins. The heart and breath rate continues to slow down, and the skeletal muscles become more relaxed. Eye movements will cease, and the body’s temperature will begin to decrease. Outside of some brief spikes of activity, brain waves will remain slow. This stage is typically the longest of all the four stages.
Stage 3 NREM is a key role in helping make us feel more refreshed and revived the following day. breath rate, heartbeat and brain wave activity all reach their lowest levels, and the muscles of the body are as relaxed as they can be. Much of our body’s repairs happen in this stage of sleep so it is imperative to ensure sleep quality is a priority.
Stage 4 REM – the first REM stage usually occurs around 90 minutes after falling asleep. The eyes will move rapidly back and forth while breath rate, heart rate and blood pressure will begin to increase slightly. REM is also where dreaming occurs, and the arms and legs will become still. The duration of each REM cycle increases as the night progresses. It is also believed that REM sleep is linked to memory consolidation or the process of storing recently learned experiences into long-term memories. REM duration decreases as we age causing us to spend more time in the NREM stages.
It is important to understand the stages of sleep and know that it is a process the body and mind go through together. The four stages will repeat throughout the night cyclically and will last between 90-120 minutes per cycle. NREM sleep constitutes roughly 75-80% of each cycle. Of course, many people will wake up briefly during the night, but not remember it the next day. These are known as the “W” stages.
Sleeping is a pattern that we can establish. In order to optimize it, there are many things one can do to aid in making it easier to get a good night’s rest such as:
Exercise regularly. By committing to a daily routine of exercise you will help relieve stress, optimize the hormone levels in the body, and prepare the body for rest as it will actively seek the ability to recover from muscular exertion. It is highly advised not to exercise close to bedtime as it can have the opposite effect of preparing for rest by stimulating the mind and nervous system while increasing energy.
Optimize circadian rhythm. Create a sleep habit and pattern. Many people like the idea of catching up on lost sleep by sleeping in on the weekend. It is better to stick to normal circadian rhythms and make up for lost time by taking short naps during the day…consistency is important.
Other areas you can work on to improve sleep:
Eat a sensible diet and don’t eat close to bedtime. Manage your stress by employing relaxation techniques to help quiet your mind, creating a soothing mental state. Keep your bedroom neat and orderly as well as dark as possible. Try not to associate your bedroom with anything other than sleep. Good air quality, fewer electronics, and turn off your Wi-Fi for a full night’s rest.
Lastly a consistent meditation or breathing practice can help relax the body, quiet the mind and move you in to a parasympathetic state utilizing the power of the Vagus nerve to slow down the heart, relax the digestive system and help deploy the biochemicals needed to bring on a great night’s sleep.
Benefits of a good night sleep:
• Stronger Immune System • Improved Memory • Reduced Anxiety and Depression • Proper Weight Control • More Energy • Healthier Heart and more.
A daily conscious breath practice has been associated with lower rates of stress, depression and anxiety along with overall improvement in mental health It also helps promotes proper blood flow, trigger the release of toxins from the body. All these benefits, plus many others combined helps you achieve better sleep patterns, increase your energy level and help you feel like a better version of yourself.
How can Airofit help you improve your sleep quality?
By dedicating time to your breathing practice and utilizing the preset revitalization and relaxation-based modules in our training app, you will begin to breathe fully and deeply, triggering a natural relaxation response. When you connect with your breath, slow down and focus on the simple act of breathing you can begin establishing a habit of activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (otherwise known as the command center for the rest and digest cycles). Your heart rate slows, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax and your body reaches a state of calm and relaxation.
The modules in the Airofit Pro app have been designed by some of the top thought leaders from the art and science of breathing and provide the best breath training for your specific needs. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of health and wellness and with the help of Airofit you can get back to your natural rhythm, gain back your energy and regain the joy and pleasures of life.
Expert Author: Sean Coakley
Sean has 25+ years of experience in breath training and a scientific background in nutritional sciences and epidemiology.