Sure, You’re Resting. But Are
You Really Recovering?
Deep sleep is that sleep stage characterized by the slowest brain waves as you snooze. For many of us, deep sleep is a lifelong quest of sorts—a holy grail we can never quite find, or at least get enough of. There’s a difference, of course, between resting and fully recovering in a way that allows the brain and the body compete restoration by the time we awake.
If you’re one of the millions who suffers from some type of sleep deprivation (and, really, who of us doesn’t fall into that category, at least on occasion), we have a few tips to help you maximize your slumber.
Tip #1 Quantity Governs Quality
The American Sleep Association asserts that the most important thing you can do to increase the amount of deep sleep is to allow yourself adequate total sleep time. That’s because, as we deprive ourselves of adequate total sleep, we also tend to reduce deep sleep (or REM sleep).
The pitfalls of sleep deprivation (the result of not getting adequate total sleep) are many: daytime sleepiness, fatigue, clumsiness, and weight gain or weight loss being among them. Being sleep-deprived also affects both the brain and cognitive function.
Higher quantity of sleep, it would stand to reason, leads to better quality of sleep and better health overall.
Tip #2 Sleeping Smarter Is a Real Thing
There are smarter ways to sleep, beginning with what we call smart fabrics. Smart fabrics, by definition, are textiles that can sense and respond to changes in their environment.
The Propel Hybrid, handcrafted in the U.S.A. and made by Brooklyn Bedding, is a mattress that utilizes a smart fabric to accelerate the recovery process while you sleep. The science behind its proprietary Upcycle™ technology is based on the fundamental principle that heat is energy—and that energy is safely and naturally transferred every day by one of three means: conduction, convection, and radiation. Upcycle™ uses a thermo-reactive process on the surface of the mattress to convert your body heat into Far Infrared Rays, safely emitted back into your body as invisible waves of energy.
Why does it work? Because Far Infrared Rays are unique in their ability to penetrate, soothe and stimulate local blood flow, enabling a more restorative sleep.
Tip #3 Lifestyle Is Everything
You know what they say—diet and exercise. But did you know there’s a relationship between these two mantras for not only better health but better quality sleep?
Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of John Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, observed that participating in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may contribute to better quality sleep that same night. “It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit,” says Gamaldo. “And patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.”
While the correlations may never be fully understood, it is known that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep we get. There is just one cautionary footnote: because exercise releases endorphins and increases core body temperature—two major signals to the brain that it’s time to rise and shine—it is typically best to exercise earlier in the day. Even easier than adding a few minutes of activity to your day is adding a healthy snack. A well-balanced diet always contributes to better health, but there are actually foods that promote higher quality sleep. Avocados, bananas, leafy greens, almonds, cherry juice and chamomile are just some of nutrient-dense foods—along with higher protein meals—that can be eaten two to three hours before bedtime to moderate blood sugar levels. We like to think of these options as dream fuel, ensuring the optimal metabolic state for sound sleep.
Tip #4 Temperature Rules
The human body is designed to be efficient. Your brain and nervous system become less receptive to external stimuli as you rest so that your body can perform many critical, regenerating functions—and, as you lie down to sleep, your body temperature automatically decreases to conserve energy for these functions.
The ideal bedroom temperature to initiate and maintain quality sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher ambient temperatures may lead to night sweats, which disturb the natural sleep cycle.
Recognizing the degree (no pun intended) to which a cooler sleep surface contributes to deeper sleep, mattress manufacturers often infuse cooling technology in the foam layers to, at minimum, create a temperature neutral environment. On the high-end side are mattresses like the Brooklyn Aurora that use another form of smart fabrics to moderate skin temperature. Skin temperature—not to be confused with bedroom temperature—is typically 91 degrees, while the ideal skin sleep temperature is 88 degrees. Cooling gel beads liquefy at higher temperatures to deliver cooling relief; those same beads solidify at lower temperatures to ensure an ideal sleep environment.
Tip #5 Consistency is a Virtue
Getting into a regular sleep schedule can be easier said than done, but many studies point to deeper, higher quality sleep for those who consistently stick to the same bedtime.
Your body’s internal clock is attuned to the 24-hour circadian rhythm and is especially sensitive to changes in light and darkness. In addition to retiring at the same time every night, and awaking at the same time every day, you can align your sleep schedule—naturally—by ensuring a darker sleep space at night, and a healthy dose of sunshine first thing in the morning. While using blackout shades and eye masks are obvious ways to avoid light disturbance, you can help prepare your body for sleep by avoiding the use of electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime. It’s well documented that the blue light emitted by cell phones, laptops and other bright screens suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone secreted by your body that is mission critical to a good night’s rest.
Investing in a good night’s sleep may sound like a luxury, but it’s actually paramount to your short-term productivity and your long-term health. If you’re looking for additional ways to achieve a more restorative sleep, you can always talk to a sleep expert at Brooklyn Bedding. Getting rest, after all, is human, but ultimate recovery is divine.