Do you just feel like falling right back into bed every morning when you wake up? Need ten cups of coffee just to function? Then we think you might need a sleep intervention.
Not getting a proper amount of sleep can affect every aspect of your life. It can slow your thinking, hinder your memory, make it easier to get sick and even cause depression. And worst of all, it may prevent you from having the energy and determination to search for jobs! We don’t want any of that stuff to happen to you, so we’re going to tell you how to make the most of your good night’s sleep.
The Four Stages of the Sleep Cycle
You should understand a few things about sleep before you try to improve its quality – namely what sleep cycles are and their stages. So first off, a sleep cycle is a 90 minute cycle of four stages: two REM (Rapid Eye Movement, caused by dreaming) and two non-REM. People generally need five or six cycles to feel well rested, so that’s what you should aim for. If you can’t fit all of them in, it’s possible to feel adequately rested on just three or four, but you need to wake up at the right time.
Stage 1 – A very light sleep. The body is either easing into a shallow sleep from a deep one (stage 4), or easing into a shallow sleep from wakefulness. People are easily awoken at this stage with very little side effects. It’s about 10-15 minutes long and is the window we want to wake ourselves up in – but we’ll get to that later.
Stage 2 – In stage 2 your body is preparing for deep sleep. You’re less easily awakened here and your heart rate slows, and body temperature drops. Waking up isn’t terrible, but it’s sort of disorienting.
Stage 3 & 4 – These are your stages of deep sleep: 4 being much deeper than 3. They’re when the REM sleep sets in, and quite difficult to wake from. If you are awoken from stage 3 or 4, you’ll feel grumpy, groggy and disoriented. These make up the bulk of your cycle, and you do not want to wake up from either.
Get Sleep and Don’t Wake up Grumpy!
Waking up during stage 3 or 4 in the morning because of your alarm clock is probably why you hate mornings so much. So lets change it up!
Knowing that each cycle takes about 90 minutes to arrive at completion, and that the average person takes about 15 minutes to fall asleep, you can calculate the best time to wake up from whenever you want to go to sleep. Remember, you’re aiming for stage 1, which lasts 10 – 15 minutes, so you want to wake yourself up 5 or 10 minutes after the end of your last cycle.
If all that sounds a little too complicated, don’t worry! We’ve linked a sleep calculator down below, which will do all the math for you!
If that doesn’t help, consider turning your phone off or putting it to airplane mode at night. (Your phone gives off tiny electrical pulses some people are sensitive to ). Also rather than reading from a screen at night to back to a paper book. Studies have shown that LED screens have the same effect on the brain as caffeine.
Hopefully that will help you sleep through the night from now on and always be at your best at work or that early morning job interview!
Use this handy Sleep calculator to help you figure out exactly what time you should set your alarm.