Most of us will spend a third of our lives in the sack. That's over 20 years asleep! Put this way, sleep seems to be a bit of a waste of life. After all, you could be doing a lot of other things with another TWO DECADES. Trouble is, without those forty winks and more, you wouldn't be able to function and live life optimally.
Many theories exist to the amount of sleep we need. Yes, you can get used to five hours or less a night, but if you're an active person you'll be short-changing your mind and your body. Sleep is recovery time. It's the period when your body regenerates itself.
If you want your training to prosper, you better make sure you get adequate ZZZs
Here's a cheery thought: researchers from the University of Chicago found skipping your beauty sleep will make you old. Sleeping four hours a night for less than a week hits the body's ability to process and store carbohydrates and regulate hormone levels. These changes mimic many of the hallmarks of advanced ageing.
On average, people sleep for just 6.7 hours before a working day and 7.1 hours before a day off
Research into sleep in later life discovered that as people age, they need less sleep during the night. However, they are more likely to take a nap during the day. Of those questioned, 58% reported at least one type of sleeping difficulty at night.
Two-thirds of the adult population reckon they're getting fewer hours of sleep now than a few years ago.
Whilst in the land of Nod
While you sleep, you'll get in 60-70 twists and turns. Shame you can't do push-ups while you sleep!
75% of people go to bed before 11 pm and rise before 8 am
When you wake up
Your joints will be stiffest in the morning and loosen up throughout the day
Your muscles will be at their weakest around 8 am and at their strongest around 5 pm
The spine is a better shock absorber in the morning than later on in the day
Your VO2 max (maximum oxygen consumption) will be lower in the morning than in the afternoon
How to choose a good bed
The term 'orthopaedic' does not carry medical authority. It just means the mattress will be firm. Most mattresses contain springs. There are different types of spring configuration - continuous or pocket springs for example. A double bed should be at least 0-15cm longer than you, and a minimum of 135cm wide.
If your mattress is more than 10 years old, it's well past its sell-by date. It will have deteriorated by around 75%. If you bought a cheap mattress, then it could have outlived its usefulness much sooner. Research indicates that most couples actually hang on to their beds for longer than a decade.
Visit The Sleep Council's site for more information on choosing a good bed
Stages of Sleep
When you nod off, your brain waves follow a number of distinct patterns. These patterns repeat throughout the night. There are two distinct phases, although these can be divided further.
Also known as slow wave or delta sleep, this stage is restorative. Blood supply to the muscles increases and the process of tissue growth and repair begins. This period also boosts your immune system.
60 minutes on
Your memory forms during Rapid Eye Movement. It's also during REM sleep that we'll experience our most vivid dreams.
This approximate 90-minute process repeats itself as you sleep until you wake up. Experts call this and 'ultradian' rhythm. It's part of the circadian rhythm which governs our day & night behaviours.
We're programmed to sleep at night and awake in the day, as those who have experience of night shift know all too well. Light acts as the trigger to wake us or keep us awake after we have slept sufficiently. But if we try to stay awake with the lights on, our bodies will still tell us that we really should be asleep. This automatic sleep response gets upset when we travel across time zones or because of night work. This is why it can take days to adjust to a new sleep pattern.
Want to read more? Check out these Top Tips for a Good Night's Rest