Wellness Month: The Science of Sleep

science of sleep

January is BrandAlley’s Wellness Month. Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking into what Wellness truly means, and how we can implement it into our daily life.

Our first week is about starting how you mean to go on. As we set our New Year resolutions, it’s important to ensure we consider beneficial (and realistic) goals. Firstly – the science of sleep. We spend approximately a third of our lives asleep, so it’s key to make those hours of shut-eye the best they can be.

What happens when you sleep?

From pretty much the moment we fall asleep, there’s changes in our body function. Our temperature drops, as does our brain activity, whilst our heart rate and respiration also slows.

Whilst we may sleep for hours on end (especially during winter), this is formulated of four sleep cycles, each lasting between 70 and 120 minutes, which include a further four sleep stages.

Source: Unsplash/Gregory Pappas

Stage one is the first few minutes, where you begin to drift off. This takes you straight into stage two, which is the point where your brain and body activity starts to slow. When you get to stage three, your body has stepped into a deep sleep. This plays an important role in your body recovery, as well as strengthening your thinking process and memory. These three stages of the science of sleep are known as the NREM (non-rapid eye movement) cycle.

Stage four is the only REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, and is where your most intense dreams occur, whilst your body experiences temporary paralysis. This is also key in aiding memory and learning, and often takes part in the later stages of the night, once you’ve been asleep for a while. Each and every stage of sleep plays its part in generating a quality slumber

Why is sleep so important?

We can’t look at the science of sleep without considering why it is so important for us. We know it’s fundamental to well-being, but in what ways? As mentioned, it’s critical for both our physical and mental development at all ages.

When it comes to adulthood, sleep is vital to prevent some factors of negative health repercussions. Lack of sleep can cause health issues such as diabetes, obesity and a weaker immune system. It can also isn’t great for your mental health, and may affect your memory.

Source: Pexels/Cottonbro

How can I have the best night’s sleep?

There’s plenty of things you can do in order to take the science of sleep and turn your home into the perfect sleep sanctuary, and whether you’re looking for a quick fix or an investment style – we’ve got you covered.

Invest in quality bedding

Not only will a good quality bedding set make your bedroom aesthetics look more stylish, but it’ll also increase the quality of your slumber. A classic set from Hotel Living will fit in any bedroom, and at 400TC you’ll feel as if you’re in heaven.

Hotel Living 400TC Pair of Oxford Pillowcases – £10
Hotel Living 400TC Double Fitted Sheet – £18
Hotel Living Piped 400TC Double Duvet Cover Set – £39

As well as this, invest in a silk pillowcase, the cosmetic value of this is enough to tempt anyone. When kept clean, your pillowcase retains moisture in your skin, and protects your hair from dreaded early morning frizz.

Shop Cocoonzzz Silk Pillowcases & Sleep Mask Sale

Keep the technology away

Whilst a final scroll on Instagram and Twitter, or even watching your laptop before bed may seem relaxing, in fact – it’s the opposite. The bright lights and movement keeps your mind stimulated, and therefore affects your sleep. If you wake in the night, you should also try to resist checking your phone, as you may struggle when you go back to sleep.

Find the right mattress

It seems obvious, but finding the right mattress for you really does matter. If it’s not comfortable enough, you’ll find yourself waking up on the wrong side of the bed – every. single. day. Do you prefer a hard or soft mattress? Memory foam or not? Ask yourself these questions and even reach out for some help if you’re unsure. A mattress is a big investment – so you’ll want to get it right.

Aspire Furniture Double Bamboo Memory Mattress – £449
Relyon Soft Touch Quilted Mattress, Double – £275
Catherine Lansfield Luxury Pocket Mattress Double – £349

Ventilation is key

You may not want to open the window during winter (especially when the heating is on), however, it’s vital in keeping your room fresh. Every morning, you should try and open the window for a short period of time – even if it’s just 15 minutes, in order to bring the fresh air in which will make the room less stuffy.

Invest in Essential Oils

In case you haven’t yet guessed, atmospherics play a very important part in having a serene night’s sleep. Invest in some essential oils (jasmine and lavender are great for inducing slumber), or consider a pillow and calming spray from This Works.

This Works Sleep Together Calming Spray – £13.50
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray – £22

Keep your space tidy

Although you might not realise it, keeping your bedroom clean can actually have a positive effect on your sleep (yes, we know it can be arduous). Embrace the mantra of tidy space, tidy mind, and clear up your clutter – that includes all the cups you’ve accumulated from the day before, put away your clothes, and even wipe surfaces clean. A more relaxing night’s sleep awaits…

Stylish Sleeping

We’ve talked about the science of sleep, now – the stylish side. Look your best before you head to bed with some of our favourite sleepwear styles.

Fenland’s Sheepskin Women’s Black/Silver Star Sheepskin Mule Slipper – £35
Christy Shawl Collar Large Bathrobe – £35
No. Eleven Navy Sheepskin Slippers – £39

Words: Maria Loizou