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Sleepless nights? We asked an expert about the new high intensity sleep trend

Sleepless nights are common for stressed-out professionals. We asked a sleep expert what you can do to feel more rested. 

One in three adults now do not get the recommended hours of sleep per night, according to a study from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The NHS has also warned that not getting enough sleep can result in severe immune system problems and failures.

So we asked an expert what you can do to stop those sleepless nights forever.

Sleep expert and author of The Fitness Minds, Brian Keane, told Compelo: “As a notoriously poor sleeper, I know first-hand how poor-quality sleep can affect our everyday lives. It can affect everything from energy levels to will power. We waste time falling asleep and spend hours in a light sleep state, which doesn’t have the same body and brain boosting benefits of deep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.”

Sleep quality is more beneficial than sleep quantity

High intensity sleep is a new trend, which focussed on sleep quality over sleep quantity. Less can be more. REM sleep is essential to achieving high intensity sleep.

But what is REM sleep? REM is a dream state we enter into whilst we sleep. This state usually occurs 90 minutes after the onset of sleep or after 30 minutes if a person is sleep deprived.

Keane continues, “We have all been told that we need to get eight hours of sleep per night. But why? We have about four or more REM periods each night as they go in 90 minute cycles. If you sleep for seven and a half hours and then wake up, you will feel far more refreshed because you will have finished that ‘cycle’. Your body will find it much easier to wake up. If you wake up after 10 hours, you would also be mid-way through a cycle, which is why you’d feel groggy and in need of a ‘kick’ to get going.”

Sleep is an essential way for us to heal, nourish and recharge our bodies and minds. We need to get it right.

So what is Keane’s advice?

“I would say to avoid the ‘second wind’,” explains Keane. “There’s a window between 10:45pm and 11:00pm when most people get naturally tired. If you don’t go to sleep in this window, then you will get the cortisol steroid hormone. This will drive a ‘second wind’ of energy which can keep you awake until 2:00am or even 3:00am! If you try and go to bed before 11:00PM, then you will wake up feeling a lot more refreshed than if you had had the same amount of sleep but started later.

“The second tip to avoiding sleepless nights is to switch off your brain. Stress, anxiety and tension can stop us from really switching off, but it is important that you train your mind to take a break. Try writing down a to-do list before bed, this can help you rest in the knowledge that you won’t forget tomorrow’s important tasks.”

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