Health & Fitness

Why Am I Sleeping So Poorly? Is There An Explanation?

Do you often have trouble getting a good nights sleep? Is there a constant buzz of thoughts, ideas, worries, and concerns in your head? Or maybe you just woke during the night after you turned, and couldn't fall asleep again.

We all probably tried it before, you lay in your bed trying to get to sleep but there is a constant movement going on in your mind preventing you from taking the relaxing trip into the dark, you keep looking at the clock and the hours till you have to show up for work are getting shorter.

You probably often fall asleep a few hours before the clock tells you its time to get up, and when you get up you feel the lag of sleeping hours right away.

You go to work and it feels like you could fall asleep standing, and when you get off work maybe you go home and take a nap, and as a result, preventing you from falling asleep at night pulling you into a circle of bad sleep patterns, of which it is hard to escape.

Maybe you even so unlucky to wake a bit at night to move or turn around and couldn’t fall asleep again.

So, as a layup for my next post on ways to help you sleep better, I’m gonna take look at why some of us have trouble sleeping from a scientific perspective.

Let’s have a look at some of the science behind what causes a good and bad sleep experience;

Many people are under the impression that we got a repeating sleep-cycle while we sleep, but there are actually different stages you reach during your sleep as shown in the diagram below.

The comon 8-hour-sleep-cycle
image source

Generally, it is during the early sleep cycle you reach the deeper stage, for it to slowly get lighter as you get closer to waking up.

Your sleep is generally much deeper during the early part of the cycle, and it gradually gets lighter as you get closer to waking. And its when you reach the top of each cycle that you will enter the state known as REM (Rapid Eye Movement) That is where your brain is closest to waking as shown above.

So, what does that have to do with people not being able to sleep? Very much since it’s in this state of REM that often causes you to move around and turn in the bed, for them to fall down to a deeper sleep again. Therefore if you wake during the night, the cause will usually be that you were in the state of REM. and close to being awake.

That’s why people that suffer from bad sleep behaviors or even insomnia have an irregular sleep cycle because they most often won’t reach the deep stage of sleep or sometimes dont reach it at all.

So, if you wake up many times during the night, you have a very shallow sleep pattern and you probably spend a lot of the sleep in and around the REM state.

In your brain, there is a continuous production of tiny electrical pulses and this goes on while you asleep too. Research with equipment like EEG machines can measure these pulses and has proven these pulses activity between specific and consistent ranges of frequencies.

Let’s have a look at these frequencies;

Beta wave Frequencies

the beta frequencies
At daytime when you are on alert, the dominant brainwave frequency will usually be in the Beta range, between 12-30Hz.aption

Alpha Wave Frequencies

the alpha frequencies
When you close your eyes sit back and relax, your brainwave frequency will start to slip down into Alpha, just below Beta in the 8-12Hz range.

Theta Wave Frequencies

the theta frequencies
In a deep state of relaxation or almost drifting off to sleep, your brain will likely be functioning in the Theta range, between 4-8Hz.

Delta Wave Frequencies

the delta frequencies
At times when your dominant brainwave activity goes below Theta, you enter the Delta range, which is known as the ‘sleep state’,  between 0.1 to 4Hz.

Therefore it’s a handy analogy if you think of brainwaves as musical notes, where the lower frequency waves are like a deep penetrating drum beat, where the higher frequency brainwaves are more like a high pitched flute. Just like in a symphony, where the higher and lower frequencies link and cohere harmonical with each other.

Why it’s important to understand? That will come to light in a later post of, 5 ways to sleep better.


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