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How to be a lighter sleeper: What Makes a Heavy Sleeper?


What Makes a Heavy Sleeper?

Are you a light sleeper who gets up several times during the night, or a heavy sleeper who can’t understand why your weary partner complains about the neighbor’s barking dogs or your snoring? Even if you sleep alone, being a light or heavy sleeper can wreak havoc in your day-to-day living. Is this part of normal sleeping habits or symptoms of one of the many common sleep disorders?

If you’re a light sleeper, you may benefit from white noise, such as an environmental sound machine, to diffuse any external noise that could wake you up throughout the night. An air conditioner that produces a low-level hum can serve the same purpose too.

If you’re a heavy sleeper, who simply doesn’t hear noise as their light sleeper counterparts do, you may be better able to enjoy undisturbed sleep. However, if you are a heavy sleeper, it is easier for you to oversleep and miss or be late for important events. If this is problematic, set two alarm clocks, and if necessary, place one across the room from your bed so that you actively have to get up to turn it off.

Understanding Light and Deep Sleep

During sleep, you alternate between cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). This cycle repeats about every 90 minutes. During the night, 75% of your time is in NREM sleep, which consists of four stages of increasing relaxation.

Stage one, also known as light sleep, is the phase between being awake and asleep. Deeper sleep begins in stage two, where your breath and heart rate become regular and your body temperature drops.

Stages three and four are the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep, in which breathing slows, muscles relax and tissue growth and repair occurs.

In general, young adults spend more time in deeper, heavier stages of sleep as they grow and develop. Older adults spend less time in deep sleep and more likely to awake at night.

But the difference between light and heavy sleepers is largely subjective. Someone who gets eight hours of sleep a night may not experience as much slow-wave, deep sleep as the same person who gets six hours of sleep.

How Does Light and Deep Sleep Work?

In a small study, published in 2010 in Current Biology, researchers described the relationship between how sleeping adults respond to noise and the levels of brain activity as sleep spindles. Researchers found that people whose brains produced the most high-frequency sleep spindles were more likely to sleep through loud noises. More research, however, needs to confirm these results.

If a person complains of feeling unrested because of light sleep, he or she should look at the factors that might be contributing to their inability to achieve deep sleep. A doctor may recommend a sleep study in a sleep lab to see if one of the many common sleep disorders are the underlying cause. Some common sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, can contribute to light sleep by causing frequent awakenings throughout the night because of breathing irregularities.

While it is hard to generalize about what makes some people light sleepers and others heavy sleepers, many factors under your own control affect the quality of sleep you get. Take a look at lifestyle, medication, alcohol, and caffeine for example.

Practicing healthy sleep habits – maintaining a regular sleep schedule, limiting caffeine and alcohol use, and sleeping in a quiet, dark and cool space – can all help foster a healthy sleep hygiene and deeper, heavier sleep.

Lifestyle Tips for Better Sleep Quality

For some people, falling asleep can be a difficult task and staying asleep can be even harder. If you categorize yourself as a light sleeper, these lifestyle changes can help you fall asleep and stay asleep during the night.

  • Drink Hot Water or Tea. Drinking warm to hot drinks such as tea or water have a wonderful calming effect. Stay away from caffeinated teas.
  • Stay Away from Heavy Meals and Alcohol. Being too full can make it harder to fall asleep because your body does not get the change to burn off the fat, causing the food to become stored fat. Alcohol may also make it easier to initially fall asleep, but can often lead to interrupted sleep.
  • Adjust Temperature of Room. One of the best ways to stay asleep throughout the night is to create a comfortable sleep environment. This starts with setting the temperatures to where it is not too hot or too cold, just comfortable.
  • Reduce Light. Make sure all lights are off or dimmed so the room is as dark as possible. If there are lights that cannot be turned off, wear a sleeping mask so that the lights do not bother you.
  • Reduce Outside Noise. If outside noises keep you up at night, try using an environmental sound machine or similar white noise device to diffuse any external sounds.
  • Stick to a Schedule. Regularity is sleep’s best friend. Try to adhere to a strict bedtime and wake time every day, even on the weekends. When your body has a routine, it knows when to start winding down and preparing for sleep.

Many common sleep disorders go unnoticed and untreated without the proper medical diagnosis. If sleep is something you struggle with on a nightly basis, do not hesitate to contact Sleep MD NYC for a consultation and path towards some much-needed restful shuteye.

Light sleeper: Definition, causes, and treatments

A light sleeper is a person who wakes up easily. Being a light sleeper can make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep because a person wakes up frequently and does not enter the deeper levels of sleep.

This article will explain the characteristics that make someone a light sleeper and the possible causes.

A light sleeper is a person who will wake up easily due to even small changes in their environment. These may include:

  • smells, such as when a person is cooking
  • sounds, even quiet ones
  • light, such as that from car headlights or outside streetlights

A person who is a deep sleeper may need a significant stimulus to awaken. Doctors refer to this stimulus as an “arousal threshold.” An alarm buzz or someone shouting at or shaking a person to wake them up are examples of significant stimuli that can create an arousal threshold.

A person goes through several stages of sleep during a night.

These stages include:

  • Stage 1: This is non-rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This stage is usually short and lasts only a few minutes, as a person transitions from being awake to sleeping. A person’s heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements start to slow down, and they enter a period of light sleep.
  • Stage 2: During this stage, the muscles become more relaxed, and the heart rate and breathing rate slow further. The second stage lasts for about 30–60 minutes before a person transitions into stage 3. It is common for people to spend most of their repeated sleep cycles in stage 2.
  • Stage 3: This stage is a non-REM sleep period in which a person is in refreshing, deep sleep. Their heart rate slows down, and, during this time, it is usually hard to awaken a person. Learn more about deep sleep here.
  • REM sleep: In this sleep period, a person’s eyes move rapidly. This movement usually starts about 90 minutes after a person falls asleep. Dreaming often takes place during REM sleep, and a person’s heart rate and blood pressure rise. During this time, a person’s brain wave activity is similar to how it is when they are awake. Learn more about REM sleep here.

Most people will naturally follow sleep transitions from light to deep sleep throughout the night. However, a light sleeper may rarely cycle through the deeper sleep stages.

If you’re curious to learn more evidence-based information about the fascinating world of sleep, visit our dedicated hub.

A person who is a light sleeper may have a different arousal threshold than deeper sleepers. Many factors affect a person’s threshold for waking up. These include:

  • the amount of time they spend awake during the day
  • the stage of sleep and brain activity during the sleep stage
  • a person’s level of vigilance before they went to sleep — for example, a person who is nervous or anxious when going to sleep may wake up more easily than someone who is relaxed

Doctors have attempted to measure brain waves as an indicator of how deeply a person sleeps, and they have identified brain wave spikes known as “sleep spindles.” These are protective against external stimuli, such as sound and light, which could cause a person to wake up. When a person experiences more sleep spindles during sleep, they are less likely to respond to external stimulation.

However, doctors have not identified how to encourage more sleep spindles in humans. Many of the studies relating to sleep spindles and responding to outside stimulation have used rodents as the subjects.

A combination of body changes, brain wave adjustments, and hormonal rhythms influence how a person sleeps. Each of these factors can play a role in whether a person sleeps lightly, deeply, or somewhere in-between.

Light sleepers can try several techniques that may help them wake up less often at night.

Home remedies

When a person has difficulty sleeping soundly, they may try to improve their “sleep hygiene.” This term refers to the sleep habits that could help a person sleep more deeply. Examples include:

  • setting a consistent sleep schedule that involves going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
  • exercising for at least 20–30 minutes a day, but refraining from exercising at least 3 hours before going to bed
  • keeping the bedroom cool and dark so that it promotes sleep
  • avoiding using a television, computer, or cell phone in the bedroom, which may help by providing light cues to tell the body that it is time to sleep
  • avoiding nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine before bed, as these can affect the depth of sleep and increase wakefulness
  • meditating or practicing some other relaxation techniques before bed, which can help a person unwind and ideally feel less anxious, possibly enhancing sleep
  • listening to white noise or soft, instrumental music while asleep to provide a consistent stimulus, so a person is less responsive to other sounds while sleeping
  • wearing an eye mask or using other methods, such as dark curtains or closed blinds, to block out light

Learn more tips for getting to sleep easily here.

Medical treatments

Doctors can also prescribe medications to help treat problems sleeping. These usually treat insomnia, which is difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep. Light sleepers do not necessarily have insomnia, but they may benefit from medication to help them sleep more deeply.

Examples include:

  • Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics: Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat sleep disorders. Examples include zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). These medications help improve sleep maintenance in some individuals.
  • Melatonin agonists: Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in regulating a person’s sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is available in an over-the-counter form in doses that range from 0.1 to 5 milligrams (mg). However, doctors can also prescribe a medication called ramelteon (Rozerem), which acts to stimulate more melatonin production in the body.
  • Antidepressants: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the tricyclic antidepressant doxepin (Silenor) to treat insomnia that affects a person’s ability to stay asleep. Doctors can prescribe the medication at doses that range from 3 to 6 mg.

Less commonly, doctors prescribe or recommend some other medications to treat sleep concerns. These include antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), and benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam (Ativan) or alprazolam (Xanax). These medications may be less effective in treating light sleeping in the long term and may have more side effects than benefits.

Learn more about how to get enough sleep here.

If being a light sleeper affects a person’s quality of life, they should see their doctor. Some examples of how light sleeping may affect a person’s quality of life include:

  • creating or adding anxiety around sleeping
  • experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness that affects a person’s work or school abilities
  • affecting relationships with a significant other due to sleep concerns or issues

A good night’s sleep is important to a person’s health in terms of physical and mental performance. If a person sleeps so lightly that they cannot sleep well, they should see their doctor.

Light sleepers wake up easily to changes in environmental stimuli, such as light, sounds, or smells. There are many potential causes.

If a person experiences unrefreshing sleep due to being a light sleeper, they should talk to their doctor about potential solutions.

IWTL how to be a lighter sleeper. : IWantToLearn

WARNING: What you’re looking for may not be all butterflies and puppy dog tails.

I’ve always been a light sleeper. In my current home, it’s almost impossible for me to sleep when someone else in the house is awake. My ferrets get locked up at night because otherwise they explore their play area and the racket keeps me awake. I generally can’t sleep in a room with an air conditioner because the cycling of the AC compressor wakes me up every time. When my alarm clock goes off it NEVER beeps more than once and is often off even before the first beep as concluded. I know when my daughter is awake by the creaking of her mattress as she gets out of bed; when she was an infant I was always awake before her mother for the midnight-2am feeding because I heard her start to complain when she got hungry and immediately woke up. I can’t charge my phone in my bedroom because even the vibration is enough to wake me up. When I was (much) younger I used to have a digital answering machine in my bedroom, at the opposite corner from my bed (so about 12′ from my head). The machine was completely silent except for when it picked up the phone, during which it made a very soft “thump” noise that sounded a bit like a Q-tip being dropped onto a bathroom counter. It was enough to wake me up from the middle of a dream (REM sleep). The back of my house faces a forest that’s about 100 yards deep and sometimes it’s a frigging nightmare; there’s a family of red foxes who come out at night and occasionally make this noise in the wee hours of the morning. It’s shocking enough that my heart pounds hard upon waking and I’m unable to get back to sleep.

The only way I can get any kind of sleep is with a fan or other white noise generator on. (Sometimes fans are a problem because they can develop an imbalance in the middle of the night which changes the noise just a tiny bit, but it’s enough to wake me up.) I have a heavy goose down pillow that I keep over my ears which helps. But even with all that, an “atypical” noise will often nudge me from sleep.

The only time I can have a prolonged, deep sleep is if I take a sleeping pill (which I absolutely hate doing because it makes me feel all fuzzy for about two days afterwards) or if the entire house clears out for the entire night. A few years back I rented a cabin in rural Vermont and had the best sleep of my entire life.

It’s not cool that you’re sleeping through alarms and such, but those are addressable. Get a clock with a louder alarm, for example, or use your phone in a speaker dock as your alarm to make it really loud. If the phone’s an issue turn up the volume and keep it on your nightstand; if it’s a land line then buy a phone with a bona fide physical bell inside of it. Guaranteed that’ll wake your ass up.

But trying to be a lighter sleeper has the potential for miserable sleep experience for the rest of your life.

Light Sleepers vs. Heavy Sleepers

Some people wake to something as simple as their partner’s foot gliding across the bed, while others could peacefully sleep through a hurricane. Why is this?

Undiagnosed sleep disorders, lifestyle choices, genetics, hormonal imbalance, and varying levels of brain activity are potential causes for extreme differences in sleep sensitivity. Still, specialists know little about why some people sleep light while others rest deep and heavy. The mysterious cause is a popular conversation, and although we may humorously discuss our sleeping sensitivities, light sleepers are frequently frustrated by inadequate sleep.

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In this article, we will discuss the differences between light and heavy sleepmers and provide advice to light sleepers yearning for quality rest.

Different Sleep Stages

We cycle through two main stages of sleep throughout the night: non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). REM is the stage of dream development while NREM provides deeper sleep. We spend significantly less time in REM sleep because there are four cycles of NREM our body must alternate through to reach it. Here’s how it works.

  • Stage One (NREM sleep): This stage is the shortest, lasting only a few minutes. It occurs when we are between a state of consciousness and sleep. Our breathing, heart rate, brain wave activity, and eye movement slightly slow while muscles relax.
  • Stage Two (NREM sleep): The second stage of sleep lasts approximately 30 to 60 minutes. During this time, our breathing, heart rate, and brain wave activity progressively slow, eye movement ceases, and our muscles relax further.
  • Stage Three/Four (NREM sleep): Our breathing, heart rate, and brain wave activity reach their lowest point during these deep and restorative stages of sleep. Stages three and four are crucial to our everyday health because our body heals itself during this time. In fact, young people still developing spend a longer amount of time in the last NREM stages. The first cycle of deep sleep lasts 45 to 90 minutes but subsequently shortens.
  • Stage Five (REM sleep): After you’ve left the restorative phase, your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure increase and your eyes begin rapidly shifting from side to side. Your brain wave activity intensifies as well, mimicking similar patterns as when you’re awake,  perhaps the reason most dreams occur during this time.  This stage typically lasts 10 minutes and only accounts for 25 percent of your slumber.

Once the stages are complete, your body begins the cycle again, repeating it four to five more times. However, deep sleep is not always attainable. Light sleepers may remain in stage one or two a majority of the night, attempting but never experiencing restorative sleep. On the other hand, deep sleepers may spend a prolonged amount of time in stages three and four.

How Are Light Sleepers and Heavy Sleepers Different?

Light sleepers are easily disturbed by external stimuli, such as light, smell, and noise, while heavy sleepers are not. However, the amount of time spent in each sleep stage is not fully responsible for these varying levels of sensitivity.

A recent sleep study found sleep spindles (a type of brainwave) also affect our ability to remain asleep when exposed to external stimuli. The researchers used an EEG to track the presence of sleep spindles in twelve sleepers. They found the more sleep spindles a person produced, the less likely abrupt changes in light, noise, or smell woke them. Although high-frequency sleep spindles effectively block out disrupting changes to our sleep environment, doctors are yet to find a way to increase them.

The researchers also found sleep spindles were especially active during the second sleep stage, right before reaching deep sleep. This may be the reason light sleepers struggle to obtain restorative rest.

Fortunately, light sleepers can take additional measures to enhance the quality of their sleep.

How to Achieve a Good Night’s Sleep

  • Establish a sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day will maintain your body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour biological process that controls the sleep-wake cycle. If you rise and rest at the same time every day, your circadian rhythm will quickly adapt to promote wakefulness and sleepiness at an appropriate time. When establishing your sleep schedule, be sure to allocate at least 30 minutes to fall asleep.
  • Create a bedtime routine. Completing stressful activities, such as working before bed, may cause nighttime anxiety and frequent wake time. Prevent tossing and turning by creating a routine you can associate with rest. This may look like reading a book, bathing, or journaling.
  • Maintain a comfortable room temperature. Decreases in body temperature lead to sleepiness while increases in temperature promote alertness. This process is called thermoregulation and is a part of our circadian rhythm or internal body clock. Before falling asleep, your body temperature needs to drop. However, if your room is too hot, your body may struggle to cool off and thus, rest. Sleep specialists recommend keeping your room temperature at 60 to 67 degrees to promote thermoregulation.
  • Keep electronic devices out of your bedroom. Blue light radiates from televisions, computers, and phone screens. Blue wavelengths are useful during the day because they enhance alertness, mood, and reaction time. However, they are harmful at night.

    Research by Harvard Medical School

    shows blue light powerfully suppresses melatonin production—a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

  • Block out external stimuli. Blackout curtains or eye masks can shut out disrupting light while noise mufflers will suppress any loud noises.
  • Evaluate the quality of your mattress. If you constantly wake from discomfort, it may be time to invest in a higher-quality mattress. An unsupportive mattress unfit to meet the needs of your unique body type and sleeping position can cause frequent tossing and turning from body pain and result in poor quality sleep.


Is being a heavy sleeper bad?

Being a heavy sleeper is not bad. If you sleep for seven hours a night and identify as a deep sleeper, the only foreseeable drawbacks are sleeping through things you probably shouldn’t, such as an alarm. Otherwise, receiving a good night’s sleep on a regular basis can preserve your overall health by improving immune function, memory, and learning ability.

Is snoring a sign of deep sleep?

While you may find it surprising that your sleep partner’s own snoring doesn’t wake them up, snoring is not always a sign of deep sleep. Snoring is typically the result of a blocked nasal passage which can arise from bedroom allergens, a common cold, dry climates, or unhealthy sleeping positions. Along with insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring can also be a symptom of sleep apnea—a sleep disorder causing breathing to repeatedly stop and start throughout the night.

How many hours of sleep should I get?

According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

adults need 7 hours of sleep or more. However, the amount of time you rest does not always determine whether or not you got enough sleep. Heavy sleepers may sleep a significantly shorter amount of time than light sleepers, but wake feeling better rested. This is because they spent enough time alternating through the deep sleep stages while the light sleeper did not.

Should I take melatonin if I can’t sleep?

Our body naturally produces melatonin before sleep, so unless your doctor has suggested melatonin supplements, we suggest avoiding them. Too much melatonin can actually reduce the time and quality of your sleep. It also carries adverse effects like headaches, nausea, joint pain, anxiety, mild tremors, and depression.

Should I see a doctor if I’m a light sleeper?

Follow our above advice on how to achieve a good night’s sleep before reaching out to your doctor. If your sleeping patterns continue resulting in daytime sleepiness or nighttime anxiety, consider reaching out to a sleep specialist. They will find the root cause of your light sleeping by conducting a series of sleep studies and other tests to create an individualized plan for you.


Changes in schedule, our jobs, stress, environmental factors, and even the food we eat alter our sleep sensitivity. If you find yourself sleeping light, improve your rest by practicing good sleep hygiene. This will consist of making your sleeping environment darker, colder, and quieter. You can also establish a bedtime routine you identify with calmness, such as reading or taking a relaxing bath. Sticking to specific sleep-and-wake times will help as well.

However, if you’re light sleeping results in sickness, anxiety, depression, or the inability to fulfill your daily responsibilities, the assistance of a medical professional may benefit you. Regardless of your route to better rest, we encourage you to prioritize it because the quality of your days stem from the quality of your sleep.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

About the author

McKenzie Hyde is a Certified Sleep Science Coach and a full-time writer focused on sleep health and the mattress industry. She currently writes articles on a variety of topics, ranging from sleep hygiene to the newest trends in the mattress and bedding industry. Just some of the topics she has covered include best sleep practices for students, the consequences of going without sleep, and choosing the right bed if you suffer from back pain. McKenzie Hyde holds a Master of Arts degree from Utah State University where she studied literature and writing. While there, she taught argumentative writing and wrote a variety of articles and analyses for literary and academic journals.

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What Is a Light or Heavy Sleeper? How to Improve Sleep

Do you catch heavy Zzz’s or take a heavy L when it comes to sleep? Do you snooze or lose?

If you’ve ever shared a bedroom with someone, you’re probably aware of the fact that some people can sleep so deeply that you could drive a combine harvester into the room and they wouldn’t even stir.

Others require the perfect cocktail of darkness, silence, and temperature to keep them asleep. Disturb the balance and POW! It’s wakey-wakey time and a full night of tossing, turning, and shuffling.

You may even switch between both modes in a single lifetime. Or even in a single week.

But what exactly makes someone a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper? Turns out, the answer is fairly complicated (ugh, thanks science). Sleep, like most other facets of human life, involves a lot of factors.

“Assuming everyone has a healthy lifestyle, there is individual variation,” says Jocelyn Y. Cheng, MD, assistant professor of neurology with a specialization in sleep medicine at NYU Langone.

So even after ruling out differences in lifestyle — diet, activity, substance use, even how late we like to watch TV — and disorders like sleep apnea, our sleep habits can still vary greatly.

We get under the sheets with sleep habits to work out what makes us stop ticking for the night.

We all go through cycles of deeper and lighter sleep every night, so the difference between a heavy and a light sleeper may be the amount of time a person spends in certain phases of their sleep cycle. No-one is 100 percent a deep sleeper or 100 percent a light sleeper.

There are four stages of sleep that we cycle through 4 to 6 times every night, from the lightest (falling asleep) to the deepest, wherein the body repairs and strengthens the muscles,Dattilo M, et al. (2011). Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21550729/ brain,Eugene AR, et al. (2015). The neuroprotective aspects of sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/ and immune system.Besedovsky L, et al. (2012). Sleep and immune function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

Within each sleep cycle (which is approximately 90 minutes long), there are 3 stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and then rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

REM sleep is where dreams happen. We know you’ve probably been told that Disneyland is, in fact, where dreams happen, but we’ve got news for you — REM is cheaper. And you hit it up every night, multiple times.

Each REM period lasts a little longer than the previous one, usually reaching up to 1 hour by the final REM stage of the night.

REM is lighter than deep NREM sleep. So if a person spends a whole lot of time stuck here, they’re going to be easily roused from their slumber.

NREM sleep is divided into N1, N2, and N3 sleep. N1 is very light, occurring as you just fall asleep. Most of the night is spent in N2 sleep. The deepest sleep is N3 sleep and occurs more during the earlier sleep cycles and less during later sleep cycles.

If you’re one of those people that has a less easy time with staying in deep sleep, we rounded up seven gadgets that might help.

Deep or N3 sleep is “known as Slow-Wave Sleep (SWS),” and is easy to stay in when you’re very young, says Michael Perlis, PhD, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

“The large amounts of SWS in early life likely accounts for the deep sleep that young people experience.”

This may explain, in part, why, when you were little, your parents may have been able to carry you from the couch to your bed without you ever knowing.

However, as an adult, the slightest jostle or night-time fart from your partner might pull you right out of that dream you were enjoying with the jet ski.

We ain’t in SWS-town anymore, Dorothy.

Most people need a full dose of sleepy time — here’s why.

Let’s be real, here: You’re going to have a harder time drifting off at the end of a cocaine bender than after half an hour of meditation and a good book. But it’s not only lifestyle choices that affect your ability to tally up sheep.

“Sex, metabolism, and genetics also likely determine how deeply a person sleeps,” Perlis says.

Studies have found that biological females tend to preserve their slow-wave sleep better than males.Mallampalli MP, et al. (2014). Exploring sex and gender differences in sleep health: A society for women’s health research report. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4089020/#B3 However, there’s an overall decline in slow wave sleep as people get older, but more so in males.

Hormones and other brain functions are also part of the sleep/waking cycle, including systems that specifically keep you from waking up.Mong JA, et al. (2016). Sex differences in sleep: Impact of biological sex and sex steroids. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4785896/

And when you’re awake, sleep-promoting substances build up in your brain — essentially getting you more and more ready to go to sleep the longer you stay awake.Brown RE, et al. (2013). Control of sleep and wakefulness. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621793/ Long days feel exhausting for a reason. Your body knows you need a top-up.

Your environment factors into your sleep quality too. (If you’re in a blisteringly hot room, it can affect your sleep swag — we looked at loads of ways to cool down a room that help you snooze.)

While Perlis and Cheng both recommend a quiet, dark, cool environment for sleeping, most of us already know how we sleep best — even when that means having lights, music, or the TV on.

“If somebody is already habituated to something, they go to sleep when they’re tired and wake up when they want to, and it doesn’t really interfere with their functioning during the day, it’s truly not going to be much of a problem,” Cheng says.

So if you’re used to sleeping with noise or sound in your environment, and it doesn’t seem to be negatively impacting your quality of sleep, there’s probably no harm in it. It’s why “Friends” is so easy to have on in the background and sleep to.

This is probably partly down to individual differences between people and part down to environment and learned behaviors. No one knows exactly why one noise/light environment works better for some people than others, except that you generally sleep best with whatever you’re used to.

Perlis adds, however, that “predictable or monotonous noise” can help mask unexpected sounds in the night to help prevent sudden waking for those of us more sensitive to noise.

White or pink noise, he says, is generally better for this function than television. We filtered out the static to find you the best sounds for sleeping.

“Part of this may have to do with the individual’s neurobiology — their strength of sensory inhibition during sleep,” Perlis says.

“For reasons we don’t understand, some people just happen to be more sensitive to certain provoking factors. Some people tend to be very sensitive to light, and that’s not uncommon, because light is one of the strongest zeitgebers (environmental clues) for keeping us awake,” Cheng says.

Other atmospheric factors also play a part in shaping a person’s sleep cycle. But ultimately, the answer is pretty simple: People are different.

We had a look at whether you should sleep on an empty stomach.

Just like genetics and other factors can hard-wire what makes some of us happy running on 6 hours of sleep while others can’t function without a full 8, some of us are just easier to startle awake.

If you’re one of these, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost, however: There are definitely a variety of ways to help yourself sleep better — whether or not you lucked out in the genetic sleep lottery.

Ariana DiValentino is a writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. She is very, very worried. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Busy Brains Make for Deeper Sleep | Science

Sound sleepers share a surprising secret: a bustling brain. A new study reports that people who can sleep through anything show more frequent bursts of brain activity called sleep spindles than do their light-sleeping counterparts. Researchers say the discovery could lead to spindle-enhancing techniques that offer lighter sleepers a chance at dead-to-the-world rest.

Sleep spindles happen only during sleep, when brain waves slow. Scientists first spotted them in the 1930s, but they didn’t suspect they were involved in how deeply people sleep. For decades, researchers instead chalked up the vast variability between light and heavy sleepers to differences in sleep stage; sound sleepers were thought to spend more of their repose in the deeper stages of sleep.

Then in the 1990s, scientists tracked down the spindle’s source: the thalamus, a brain region that regulates sleep and also processes and relays sensory information to the cerebral cortex. The spindle-thalamus link made it “logical that the sleep spindle would play a role in regulating sensory input while we sleep,” says Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “But no one had actually shown this.”

So Ellenbogen and colleagues invited 12 people to spend 3 nights in his lab’s cushy digs. Presented with comfy beds and soundproof rooms, the subjects slept peacefully through the first night while the researchers measured their baseline brain waves. During the next 2 nights, the team played an assortment of 14 different sounds, including flushing toilets, loud conversations, ringing phones, and car traffic, 40 to 50 times throughout the night, gradually raising the volume of each sound until each sleeper stirred.

When the researchers matched the sleepers’ spindle production—which ranged from three to six spindles per minute and remained consistent for each sleeper across the nights—to the loudness required to rouse them, they found that sleepers with higher spindle rates were harder to wake up. The spindles seem to indicate when the thalamus is blocking noise from reaching the cortex and disrupting sleep, the team reports in the 10 August issue of Current Biology.

“This is a very elegant study,” says Mathias Basner, a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “We see huge variability in noise sensitivity, and this gives us a marker to predict that sensitivity.” That marker could be used to gauge sleep quality in problem sleepers and assess how well sleep therapies are working for them, adds neuroscientist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley.

Knowing more about spindles could also help researchers design drugs or behavioral techniques that deepen sleep, says Ellenbogen. In the meantime, some questions linger. Researchers don’t yet know why some people produce more spindles than others, or how exactly the thalamus shields stable sleepers from sound. Ellenbogen plans future studies to lay these mysteries to rest.

What Makes Someone A Light Sleeper?

By Jennifer Warner
Medically reviewed by Farrokh Sohrabi, M.D.

For some people, the slightest noise awakens them at night. For others, the wailing siren of a passing fire truck doesn’t disturb their slumber. Just why, though, remains a bit of a mystery.

Although many people are self-proclaimed light sleepers or heavy sleepers, researchers have found that little is actually known about why people react differently to noises and other stimuli during sleep.

Genetics, lifestyle choices, and undiagnosed sleep disorders may all play a role. In addition, some studies suggest that differences in brainwave activity during sleep may also make someone a light or heavy sleeper.

Light And Deep Sleep
During sleep, you alternate between cycles of REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) that repeat about every 90 minutes. You spend about 75 percent of the night in NREM sleep, which consists of four stages of increasing relaxation.

Stage one, or the phase between being awake and asleep, is considered light sleep. Deeper sleep begins in stage two, as your breathing and heart rate become regular and your body temperature drops.

Stages three and four are the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep, in which breathing slows, muscles relax, and tissue growth and repair occurs.

In general, young people spend more time in the deeper, heavier stages of sleep as they grow and develop. Older people spend less time in deep-sleep stages and are more likely to complain of being light sleepers.

But sleep experts say the difference between a light and heavy sleeper may be largely subjective. Someone who gets eight hours of sleep a night may not experience as much slow-wave, deep sleep as the person who get six hours of sleep.

“There may be some overlap between what people subjectively feel about the depth of their sleep, and what we find in the lab in measuring the different sleep stages,” said David Neubauer, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and associate director of Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center in Baltimore, Md. “But it’s not necessarily the same thing.”

What Contributes To Light Sleep
A small study, published in 2010 in Current Biology, suggests that differences in how sleeping people respond to noise may be related to levels of brain activity called sleep spindles. The researchers found that people whose brains produced the most of these high-frequency sleep spindles were more likely to sleep through loud noises. But more research is needed to confirm the results.

Neubauer said that if someone is complaining of not feeling rested because of being a light sleeper, they should look at the factors that might be contributing to the inability to achieve a deep sleep.

A doctor can recommend a sleep study in a sleep lab to see if a sleep disorder may be to blame.

Some sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, may contribute to light sleep by causing awakenings throughout the night because of breathing irregularities.

Neubauer added that it’s hard to generalize about what makes some people light sleepers and others heavy sleepers. “It might be some sort of genetics, or it might be that some people have a greater degree of arousal over a 24-hour cycle,” he said.

In most cases, however, factors under your own control affect the quality of sleep you get. “There are lots of issues related to lifestyle, medication, alcohol, and caffeine that can lighten sleep,” Neubauer said. “People might also not be getting enough sleep because they’re not spending enough time in bed due to the choices they make.”

Practicing healthy sleep habits — maintaining a regular sleep schedule; limiting caffeine and alcohol use; and sleeping in a quiet, dark, and cool space — can all help foster deeper, heavier sleep.

“Light Sleepers vs. Heavy Sleepers” originally appeared on Everyday Health

90,000 Sleep Optimization: How to Sleep Less But Better

  • David Robson
  • BBC Worklife

Photo Credit, Getty Images

Scientists have already learned how to deepen and accelerate the recovery processes occurring in our brains in a dream. Will it make us feel better, even going to bed too late and waking up too early?

We often talk about our sleep difficulties with some even pride.After all, they testify to the fact that we lead an extremely busy life.

Let’s remember Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher – and the same Donald Trump. All of them are famous for their short night’s rest – 4-5 hours of sleep, much less than the 7-9 hours recommended by doctors for adults.

Many of us seem to be following the lead of these people: According to the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, more than a third of US adults have regular sleep deprivation.

The consequences are known – from memory impairment to increased risk of infectious diseases, from difficulty making decisions to obesity. But they are often ignored.

Alas, when our work needs exceed our normal daily schedule, the first thing we sacrifice is hours of sleep.

But if we could optimize the hours we spend in our sleep, make them more efficient? Would we then need less time to sleep, and would it be deeper?

This possibility is closer than we think. Techniques for optimizing sleep already exist, and experiments around the world are proving that we can make the brain work more efficiently at night.

First we speed up our deep sleep and then we improve the quality of our rest.

Think it sounds too pretty to be true? Let’s figure it out.

Slowing Down the Rhythm

During a typical night, the brain goes through various stages of sleep, each with its own characteristic “brain waves” structure. At the same time, neurons in different areas of the brain work synchronously, in a certain rhythm (much like a large crowd chanting something in chorus).

During REM sleep, also called Rapid Eye Movements (REM), the rhythm of neurons is relatively fast – during this time we usually dream.

But at certain moments our eyes stop moving, dreams stop dreaming and the rhythm of brain activity drops to one “beat” per second.

And then we plunge into that deepest unconscious state, which is called the phase of slow wave sleep.

It is this stage that is most interesting for scientists studying the possibilities of optimizing sleep.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Margaret Thatcher, among other things, was known for sleeping four to five hours a day – at least during her years as Prime Minister of Great Britain

Research conducted since the 1980s shows that NREM sleep is critical to maintaining normal brain function. During it, the corresponding areas of the brain transfer the memories of what happened during the day from the category of short-term memory to long-term memory – so that we do not forget what we have learned and what we have learned.

“REM sleep facilitates this transfer of information,” says Jan Born, head of the Department of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Tübingen, Germany.

NREM sleep also triggers the flow of blood and cerebrospinal fluid to the brain, thus flushing out potentially damaging neuronal blockages.

At the same time, the level of cortisol (hydrocortisone, the “stress hormone”) decreases, which helps to restore the immune system, preparing it for future attacks of infections.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

Photo Caption,

Many companies are now working to develop methods to help their clients achieve a deeper immersion in slow wave sleep – much like in children

Bourne and other scientists wondered: can we improve the quality of sleep and, in particular, the phase of slow-wave sleep so much that it will improve our daytime functioning?

One of the most promising techniques is to use a kind of metronome for the sleeping brain.Participants in the experiments wear a kind of helmet on their heads, which records the phases of their brain activity during sleep – including when they plunge into the slow phase.

And then the device begins to reproduce short impulses, barely audible sounds with a frequency that matches the brain impulses of the slow-wave sleep phase.

These sounds are not so loud as to wake up the sleeping person, but the person subconsciously perceives them.

Bourne concluded that this careful sound stimulation is sufficient for the correct brain rhythms to enhance deep sleep.

Those participants who fell asleep with a device on their heads later performed better when checking what they remembered from yesterday, as opposed to those who slept with a device that did not produce any stimulation.

The signals sent by the device altered the hormonal balance, helping to reduce the level of cortisol in the body.

None of the participants in the experiments have reported any unwanted effects or side effects of such brain stimulation to date, Bourne says.

For sound sleep – to the store

Small groups of young and healthy volunteers took part in most of the experiments to deepen the phase of slow wave sleep. So, in order to be fully convinced of the benefits of such techniques, research should be broader and in groups with a more diverse composition.

But technology has already made its way into some household devices – mainly in the form of headbands worn over the head at night.

French startup Dreem, for example, is releasing a headband (costs about 400 euros), as in the experiments described above, that stimulates the brain with sound impulses that immerse a person in slow wave sleep.The effectiveness of this device has been validated by peer-reviewed scientific research.

The French gadget has a mobile app that analyzes your sleep and offers practical tips and exercises to improve it, including meditation and breathing exercises.

Philips, the manufacturer of SmartSleep, is expressly committed to helping alleviate the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

The device is for those people “who, for some reason, simply do not allow themselves to sleep as much as their body needs,” says David White, Chief Scientist at Philips.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

Photo Caption,

Philips joined research to improve sleep efficiency with its own sleep deprivation device

The device went on sale in 2018. Like the Dreem, this is a headband that captures electrical brain activity and periodically sends out short beeps to stimulate NREM sleep.

The gadget relies on software that offers the optimal level of stimulation for a specific person (SmartSleep is currently only available in the US, priced at $ 399).

David White agrees that such devices cannot completely replace healthy sleep throughout the night. But, he said, it is extremely difficult to convince those who suffer from sleep deprivation of the need to change their lifestyle. And the device should at least help them feel better during the day.

Philips proprietary research reportedly confirms that SmartSleep stimulates slow-wave sleep in those who regularly sleep deprivation and mitigates the effect of this sleep deprivation on the effectiveness of memory consolidation during the night.

No doubt, in the future, new experiments will lead to new devices and innovative ways to optimize sleep.

Aoror Perrault of Concordia University in Montreal recently tested a bed that gently sways back and forth every four seconds – much like a cradle with a baby.

According to her, this was suggested by her colleague after she had a baby and had to be rocked. Scientists have a question: will this work with adults as well?

Photo author, Dreem

Photo caption,

The device of the French startup Dreem uses sound brain stimulation to improve the quality of sleep.Similar products are starting to appear on the market

Indeed, it turned out that the participants in the experiment in this way fell into slow-wave sleep faster and spent more time in it. Their brains were synchronized with external movement.

As expected, they reported feeling more rested afterward. In addition, this was accompanied by positive effects on their memory.

If such a bed goes on sale, it will perform the same function as a head-worn device.

Perrault is particularly interested in whether she will help the elderly. As we age, the amount of time we spend in slow wave sleep decreases, and this may be associated with emerging memory problems.

Perrault hopes that the quietly rocking bed will help counter this.

Still sleep

While such studies are at the very beginning, and nevertheless they are promising. Perrault and Bourne are optimistic about the potential of commercial products using sound impulses for wellness purposes.

Perrault emphasizes that more research is needed on the effectiveness of such methods – and no longer in the laboratory. “It’s great that they keep trying to use external stimulation – we know it works,” says Perrault.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

Photo Caption,

Several studies have found that well-known external stimuli such as rocking the bed help adults sleep better as well

Will these techniques have long-term effects? We know that chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of diabetes and even Alzheimer’s.Can artificially optimized sleep reduce these risks?

In the meantime, the only way to ensure you get all the benefits of healthy sleep, both in the short and long term, is by making sure you get enough sleep each night.

It is up to you to test the devices described here or not. But you should definitely try going to bed early more often, not drinking alcohol and caffeine before bed, and not browsing social networks and your favorite Internet sites for too long while lying in bed.All of these are detrimental to the quality of sleep.

Our brain cannot function properly without the recharge that sleep provides. And it would be better for us not to oversleep the moment when it will be too late to fix something.

To read the original of this article in English, visit BBC Worklife .

How to sleep as well as professional athletes?

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

Forget the myth of eight hours of sleep

Want to sleep better? Sleep coach Nick Littehales, who has worked with the England national football team, explains how professional athletes achieve good, deep sleep.

More and more people in the world are experiencing sleep problems and we all know what advice they usually give in this case: take the TV out of the bedroom, buy the perfect bed and turn off all gadgets an hour before bedtime. But what if you want to sleep really well?

Nick Littehales is a sleep coach. His job is to help athletes recover as much as possible during sleep, helping them sleep the way nature intended.

Littehales has worked with major football clubs including Sir Alex Fergusson’s 1992 Manchester United and Sven-Joran Ericsson’s England squad.

We talked to him about how to sleep. Here are his tips:

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

There are periods in the day when a person sleeps best

1. Think not about hours, but about a cycle

The need for eight hours of sleep a day – it’s a myth, the coach says. Our sleep follows a natural cycle at intervals of one and a half hours. Every 90 minutes we switch from REM sleep to normal sleep and back again.

Nick says the most important thing is not to interrupt these cycles, so plan your sleep so that the total sleep time is divisible by 90 minutes, for example, seven and a half hours, six or four and a half hours of sleep.

This time, the coach says, is easiest to count from the moment you wake up. If you plan to get up at half past six in the morning, go to bed at 5:00, 3:30, 2:00, 0:30 or 11:00 in the evening.

2. Think not about one night, but about the whole week

Nick is sure that it is more correct to pay attention not to the total number of hours of sleep per day, but to the number of sleep cycles per week.

“We should aim to sleep 35 cycles a week – or five a day,” says Nick. Therefore, if one day you went to bed too late, then the next night or even in the middle of the next day it can be compensated.

The coach recommends that you schedule sleep at the beginning of each week based on your schedule.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

The most important thing for sleep is not hours, but cycles, says Nick

3. Sleep less, but more often

Nick says that before the invention of the light bulb, people slept polyphasically like babies. “It means less, but more often,” he explains.

The daily cycle is 24 hours. “People are hard-coded for this process,” says the coach.

Our bodies have been adapted by nature to sleep at certain times of the day. The second period of natural sleep is in the middle of the day, says Nick, and the third is somewhere between five and seven in the evening. If you use this, as many athletes do, the body will be better able to recuperate during sleep.

Nick believes that people may well sleep in two phases (sleep less at night, but compensate for this by daytime sleep), or even in three phases: at night, during the day and early in the evening.

4. Not a “quiet hour”, but “controlled periods of recovery”

It is very important that you can recuperate not only in sleep. Nick encourages people to think in terms of relaxation, not sleep. The coach refers to rest periods as CRP (controlled recovery periods).

“CRP has nothing to do with trying to sleep,” says the trainer. A person should set aside thirty minutes for himself (a third of the sleep cycle) and just make time for himself.”It can be done anywhere,” says Nick.

You can relax simply by relaxing your mind with the help of music, meditation, throwing a towel over your head, going to a place where there are no people – even in a toilet stall or in a car. Even if you are awake, these breaks need to be factored into your weekly sleep schedule.

Many major football clubs recognize the importance of relaxation and have equipped their training facilities with dedicated rooms.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

CRP is just

5.Morning Ritual

What you do when you wake up is even more important than what you do before bed, says Nick. “You need to start the morning right. Everything you do from the moment you wake up affects the quality of your body’s recovery,” says Nick.

Therefore, establish a clear sequence of actions after waking up. It can be a light breakfast and a glass of water, a toilet and a light exercise.

6. Sleep correction devices

If you find it difficult to get up, Nick advises you to take a closer look at the device called the “sunrise simulator”.It recreates the lighting effects of sunrise and sunset in a dark room.

These light changes will help your body switch between releasing melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that helps us relax, and serotonin, which stimulates us to take action.

Some companies are already simulating circadian rhythms in their office lighting, Nick says.

You can find out if you are spending too much time in the daylight with the help of a special free app.

Photo author, Getty Images

Photo caption,

The bigger the bed, the better

7. Buy a large bed

Changing your sleeping conditions is easy enough, and the effect will be noticeable immediately. “A super king size bed is designed for two adults – this should be a standard bed for two,” says Nick.

The size of the bed, he says, is very important, so find a bigger one. The main thing is that it fits in the bedroom.

8. Sleep embryo and breathe through your nose

“The ideal sleeping position is the fetal position, on the side opposite your dominant side,” says Nick. Ideally, you should sleep without a pillow.

Finally, the coach tells us to breathe through our nose. Mouth breathing is one of the causes of sleep disturbances, he adds. 90 011 90 000 Which position is the best to sleep in?

Despite the fact that sleep is one of the most important physiological processes in the body, it is often neglected, especially by residents of megacities.Doctors recommend sleeping seven to nine hours a day, while many do not even sleep six. A group of researchers from Boston University, led by Laura Lews, found that sound sleep detoxifies the body. This is due to nerve signals that occur during deep sleep. Scientists believe that sleep disturbances will lead to dementia in the future. However, it is necessary not only to sleep a lot, but also correctly, doctors are sure. And in what position is the best – the correspondent of “MIR 24” found out.

Experts agree that the ideal sleeping position depends on the characteristics of the body, age, health status and existing diseases. For a healthy person, postures on the back and on the side, both on the right and on the left, are suitable.

“If a person has difficulty in nasal breathing, sleeping on the back can increase snoring and the risk of apnea – respiratory arrest during sleep. The position on the stomach is also considered not the most useful, as a rule, the load on the cervical spine increases.People with acidic stomach contents are advised to sleep with the head of the bed raised to reduce the frequency of throws. For those who have problems with the spine, sleep on the side in the fetal position is more suitable. This position relieves the spine better than others. Pregnant women are advised to sleep on their left side, as this improves blood circulation, ”said Elena Tomashkova, a physician of the highest category, a therapy consultant at GREENWAY.

At the same time, if you sleep on your back, it is very important to choose the right pillow, otherwise you still risk your health.

“For example, if the pillows are too many or too high, cerebral blood flow can be disrupted, resulting in increased heart rate and increased blood pressure. Unfortunately, sleeping on your back most often leads to snoring. It is not recommended for pregnant women to sleep on their backs, ”adds Konstantin Malakhov, Medical Director of Inferum Group.

If you have bronchial or heart problems, avoid sleeping on your side.

“Sleeping on the left side relieves heartburn and the so-called acid reflex, but also reduces the range of motion of the lungs.So the pose is not suitable for those with bronchial problems. Don’t sleep on your left side and cores. In this position, the pressure on the chest increases – especially if the person is overweight, ”said Malakhov.

The position on the stomach is also not suitable for many people. It negatively affects several organs at once.

“This position is guaranteed to stop snoring, but it poses a lot of other problems. Firstly, impaired blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, secondly, pressure on the chest and obstruction of the lungs, and finally, increased stress on the heart muscle.Again, overweight people are especially at risk, ”commented Malakhov.

In addition, if you like to fall asleep with your face in the pillow, be prepared for the deterioration of lymphatic drainage. Do not sleep on the same side of your face if you do not want to develop wrinkles prematurely, advises cosmetologist Liya Kolesova.

“When the face is in the pillow, the lymphatic drainage worsens, which works from top to bottom, in the direction from the forehead to the chin. Also, the habit of sleeping on one side of the face forms characteristic creases and fine wrinkles on the face.The position of the face during sleep is especially important after aesthetic procedures such as peeling, biorevitalization, and contouring. It is not recommended to sleep on your face because of the deterioration in blood supply and displacement of the injected substance, ”she said.

To avoid problems with sleep, doctors advise to give up intense loads at night, not try to solve important tasks, ventilate the room before going to bed and not overeat.

“It is better if the last meal is a few hours before bedtime.Skip tea and coffee late in the day, remove all gadgets from the bedroom, or turn them off completely. I advise you to buy blackout curtains that do not let the street light through, ”added physician Tomashkova.

Note that online content is mind-boggling, and phone screen lighting mobilizes the brain. There is a popular belief among experts that even the traditional advice to “count the sheep” to sleep can have the opposite effect. If you cannot sleep, you can use a blood pressure corrector.

“This device is about the size of a wristwatch. It is put on the wrist, and it acts on the vessels with the help of weak electrical impulses, thereby increasing or decreasing the pressure. Sleep as a result of such an impact becomes deeper and more fulfilling, a person falls asleep more easily in the evening, wakes up more easily in the morning and feels rested, “added Malakhov.

How to sleep in your favorite position and not have health problems

Doctors say that it is our favorite position during sleep that can cause health problems.At the same time, in order to be healthier, we do not have to give up the habit, but it is enough to make only some adjustments.

Bright Side has collected recommendations from experts on how to sleep in your favorite position and stay healthy.

Sleeping on your side

Scientists have found that cerebrospinal fluid is more effective in removing toxins from the brain when lying on its side. This reduces headaches and the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.Sleeping on the left side also helps relieve heartburn, but puts more stress on the liver.

  • For problems with digestion doctors recommend sleeping on the left side. This will help improve blood flow, relieve stomach and esophagus.

  • To keep your back flat on your side, place a small firm pillow between your legs. It will also reduce stress on the joints. And under the head – big and plump.

  • For high blood pressure and circulatory problems, it is recommended to sleep on the right side.This reduces the stress on the heart.

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back is one of the best positions for problems with the spine and joints. This posture prevents heartburn and wrinkles. However, it is also one of the worst postures for nose problems, high blood pressure, and snoring.

  • To stop snoring, use a plump pillow (or a small one under the neck) to keep the upper airway in the correct position.

  • With a runny nose mucus will accumulate in the sinuses during the night. In this situation, use multiple pillows to raise your head a little higher and create a tilt (not too much so as not to hurt the neck).

  • For back and joint pain place a small pillow under your neck, a large but flat pillow under your knees and a rolled towel under your lower back. This will support the spine and allow normal blood flow.

Position on the stomach

Japanese researchers have found that sleeping on the stomach helps lower blood pressure, as well as improve digestion, snoring and heartburn.However, this is bad for the back because the spine is in an unnaturally bent position.

  • To prevent the spine from bending over and to reduce stress on the lower back, place a small pillow under your belly in your pelvis. At the same time, the pillow under the head should be flat (about 3 cm), and it is better to be absent altogether so that the neck does not suffer.

Embryo Pose

A position in which the knees are raised high to the chin can be comfortable, but is bad for back health.The arcuate bending of the body limits diaphragmatic breathing – this will relieve snoring, but add problems if everything is not okay with breathing (for example, with asthma).

  • To straighten your back , ensure proper positioning of your limbs and free your chest, place one plump pillow between your legs and place the other between your elbows. According to doctors, the ideal pillow under the head in this position will be one small plump one that will support the neck.

Which position is best to sleep in

How different positions affect sleep

On the side

This is the most popular, but not the best option.Studies show that sleeping on the right side causes heartburn, since in this position the lower esophageal sphincter, which traps acid in the stomach, relaxes (sleeping on the left side does not have such consequences). In addition, those who like to sleep in this position may suffer from pain in the shoulders and hips.

Shelby Harris, a sleep expert and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, believes that it is not necessary to change your sleeping position in the absence of negative symptoms.For those who are in pain, buy a pillow with good support to reduce the strain on the shoulders, and for those suffering from heartburn, lie on their left side. In addition, a pillow should be placed under the knees to compensate for the stress on the lower back.

On the stomach

Sleeping on the stomach is considered the most harmful. In this position, the body is subjected to tremendous pressure, which can make you feel numb and tingling. Turning your head back and forth increases the likelihood of muscle and joint pain.

Those who like to sleep on their stomachs are advised by Harris to lie on a thin pillow to reduce the strain on the neck.

On the back

Sleeping on the back is the most natural. In this position, the body rests, you do not suffer from pain or heartburn. For those who sleep on their backs, Harris advises using a pillow like this so that the head is flush with the body.

However, even with an ideal cushion, this position is unsafe for snorers. Sleeping on your back can trigger apnea and exacerbate an existing illness.If you have already experienced this problem, then sleeping on your back is not for you.

How to train yourself to sleep on your back

To secure your body on your back, place pillows on both sides of you and one under your knees. If that doesn’t work, Harris suggests putting tennis balls underneath your pajamas on the right side. They will surely hold back your impulse to roll over.

You may feel uncomfortable sleeping in your new position at first, even if you feel yourself waking up more rested.But you shouldn’t scoff at yourself.

Although the best sleeping position is on your back, you need to sleep the way you feel comfortable.

If, with all your desire, you cannot retrain, do not suffer. Trying to do so can cause your circadian rhythms to malfunction, which can be detrimental to your health, memory, mood, and energy levels.

how I learned to sleep less and started getting enough sleep – Personal experience on vc.ru

The author of the Telegram channel “Above the Head” Denis Volkhonsky – about how to improve your sleep.

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I used to sleep nine hours a day and didn’t get enough sleep.I went to bed late and got up very late. Life was a struggle with sleep. I connected this with some kind of disease unknown to modern medicine.

The last couple of years I have improved my sleep quality a lot. Now I get up early, sleep for about seven hours and feel good. In this article, I want to share the methods that helped me get sleep and start getting enough sleep.


Most articles on sleep begin with a recommendation to get up and go to bed at the same time.The rest of this recommendation ends. It doesn’t work for me. I would be glad, but during the week my central nervous system is loaded differently. Different days require different sleep times. After a workout, you want more sleep. When you are in a calorie deficit, you want less sleep. Therefore, I do not require constancy from the body.

What really helped me was to go to bed and get up earlier.Once I fell asleep in the interval from one in the morning until four in the morning, and I woke up no one knows when. I was one of those people who, at the mention of the first couple at the university, spoiled the mood.

Now I wake up between five and seven in the morning, and go to bed until midnight. This mode is more natural for the body. I feel much better at the same time.

To change the mode, it is enough to endure one day.No matter how much you go to bed – wake up the next day at six in the morning. In the evening of the same day, you will be very sleepy – go to bed. Congratulations, you are an early riser. Don’t forget to set your alarm for six in the morning the next day.


Nutrition is a powerful tool that can be manipulated to influence sleep.Consider two extreme states: “hunger” and “I am overeating.”

Our body is tailored for survival. For him, hunger is a stressful state. In order to survive, you need to eat. For this, the brain activates your search activity. You become more energetic. To sleep less, you need to eat less.

On the contrary, if you are in a state of “I am overeating”, then it will be easier for you to fall asleep: from the point of view of evolution, you should be sent to an energy-saving mode.Part of the energy is now directed to the digestion of food. Overeat at night – got a quick fall asleep in exchange for a sense of guilt. Everything is fair.

Caffeine and alcohol

I avoid anything that contains caffeine a few hours before bed.Coffee, tea, coca-cola, chocolate, energy drinks, pre-workout complexes – it is advisable to exclude all this after three o’clock in the afternoon.

If I really want to go to bed, I drink herbal tea. For example, ivan tea or rose hips. They are delicious and caffeine-free. Rosehip also enhances immunity.

From left to right: ivan tea, Armenian herbs, rose hips

I do not drink alcohol: it does not allow the body to sleep properly.You can fall asleep quickly from it, but do not rely on deep sleep. The body will remove alcohol from the body, there is no time for sleep.


Any workout is stressful. You came to the gym. Lie under a heavy barbell.The body thinks that you will die soon. To cope with difficulties, it releases stress hormones. In addition, it activates the central nervous system. Naturally, in this state you will not fall asleep right away. Therefore, you should not exercise before bed.

I train in the morning: it invigorates. In addition, the body recovers throughout the day.If you train for the night, then you will recover in a dream and wake up killed. If you wake up, and yesterday the training was in the morning, then the state of health is much better. And you need less time to sleep.

Cold shower

A cold shower induces a hormonal response similar to the response to exercise.For the body, cold is stress, in the conditions of which it is necessary to survive. He has no time for sleep again. If you want to cheer up – pour cold water over it.

But do not take a cold shower after training: your immunity is temporarily lowered. It can be very easy to get sick, and a second dose of stress will contribute to this.


The bedroom should be cold, dark and fresh.During sleep, the body temperature drops slightly. It is logical that you should not increase it at night. And given how much batteries work in the post-Soviet space in winter, you always have to sleep with an open window.

The window in my bedroom is always open. The reason is carbon dioxide that accumulates in the room. After two hours in a room without ventilation, carbon dioxide becomes so much that it becomes stuffy.This is called carbon dioxide poisoning. It is much more difficult to sleep in such conditions.

You need to sleep in the dark. To do this, I completely cover the windows in autumn, winter and spring. In the summer, I sacrifice darkness in favor of the best natural alarm clock: the sun shining in my face at five in the morning. Summer is the best time to get up not to the nasty iPhone melody, but to the sun.

Alarm clock

Our sleep consists of cycles: several phases replace each other in turn. The only thing we need to know from this is that it is easiest to wake up in REM sleep. In it, the body practically does not sleep, but is in a state of dormancy.In this phase, you are tossing and turning the most.

To determine the phase of REM sleep, I use the Sleep Cycle app. I set up a 30 minute wake-up window (say 6:00 to 6:30). My phone sits next to my pillow all night. The microphone picks up all sounds. When it’s time to wake up, he waits until I start tossing and turning. For him, this will be a sign of a rapid phase of sleep.At this moment he will wake me up.

Screenshot from Sleep Cycle

Inexpressible feelings. Waking up in REM sleep is much easier.

In winter, when daylight hours start late, I use an artificial sun.My alarm clock, half an hour before waking up, begins to smoothly turn on the warm light in the room. By the time of awakening, this sun is already shining in full and the birds begin to sing.

Instead of the sun

Smartphone and computer screen

30 minutes before bedtime, I try not to use my computer and smartphone.Their screens emit blue light. And it reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that is released in the dark and helps you fall asleep.

I have f.lux on my computer, which makes the color of the monitor warmer in the evening. The tablet automatically turns on Night Shift mode, which does about the same.

Screenshot of program f.lux

I start my morning from the smartphone screen. I go to Instagram. The light that enters the eyes after waking up is a good alarm clock. And a dose of dopamine helps to get rid of the typical “well, ten more minutes.”

Walk before sleep

Walking before bed has had a very positive effect on me.Often my wife and I devote 30-60 minutes to this. The benefits are enormous.

  • Walking helps you fall asleep better.
  • Relations with the other half are strengthened.
  • Walking – prevention of heart disease, veins and blood vessels.

After such a walk, it is much easier to fall asleep, and the sleep is better.

Daytime sleep

Often at lunch time there is a breakdown in strength, energy and mood. The body increases the blood supply to the digestive organs. Therefore, the blood supply to the brain decreases slightly – because of this, you tend to sleep.

From an evolutionary point of view, you should be active until you catch the mammoth and eat it. This will ensure your survival. At the same time, after a meal of strength, you do not need anything, it’s time to turn on the energy-saving mode.

There are two ways to deal with this.The first is to reduce your lunch. But life didn’t prepare us for that, did it? The second is to sleep for 20-30 minutes after lunch (this is what is called nap in English).

I often sleep during the day at work. Anyway, I try. If it comes out – hurray, I got two working days in one day. If not, I’ll be tired the rest of the day.

For myself, I have developed certain rules for daytime sleep:

  1. The most important rule is not to be shy.You can come to an agreement with any adequate boss, explain how positively this affects your health. And any inadequate can be changed.
  2. Sleep no more than 25 minutes. During this time, you will not have time to fully fall asleep – it will be very easy to wake up. Basically, you have to go into a dormant state.
  3. It is advisable to isolate yourself from ambient light and sound. I calmly fall asleep to the music, it also saves me from the chatter around.And from the light, you can use either a hood or a sleep mask.
  4. You can have coffee before bed. The caffeine will take effect in about 30 minutes. By this time, you will be awake.

Which Methods Don’t Work

I have shared with you the methods that work for me.But there is something that didn’t work for me. Negative experiences are also experiences.

As I wrote at the beginning, I absolutely cannot get up and even more so fall asleep at the same time. However, I managed to reduce the spread of the ascent time, which is already progress.

Morning rituals from productivity books don’t work for me.Meditation, jogging, “eating a frog” – no, I’m sorry, but I won’t. This does not give me pleasure.

So it’s a matter of time before I give it up. It gives me pleasure to wake up and go to Instagram for ten minutes – so be it.

We are human beings, and every day we may have different circumstances.We are full of energy, then we wake up with the desire to destroy humanity. What the hell is this meditation, I want to sleep.

90,000 What position should you not sleep in?

The quality of rest at night directly depends not only on which bed you sleep on, but also in what position.

Every person has a favorite sleeping position. Some people sleep best on their side with a hand under their cheeks, others need to lie on their backs with their arms outstretched, others love to sleep on their stomachs. According to scientists, not all of these postures are good for health. Some of them not only will not give the body a rest, but can also add health problems.

First of all, this is a favorite position of many – on the side . According to doctors, lying on the right side, a person runs the risk of getting acquainted with an unpleasant disease – heartburn, and on the left side it puts an extra burden on the heart.As a result of lying for a long time in this position, the rhythm of the heart is often lost, the brain does not receive enough oxygen. As a result, in the morning a person complains of a headache and a feeling of weakness.

The most harmful sleeping position is on the stomach . Especially for those who are already 40 years old. Lying face down can dramatically accelerate the aging process of your skin. Usually, belly sleepers can be easily recognized by the deep wrinkles on the face in the morning. By the evening they, of course, will be smoothed out, but all the same, there is little pleasant from such “decorations”.Especially women. In addition, this posture guarantees the appearance of chronic pain in the spine, lower back and neck.

If your loved one fell asleep while sitting , no matter how sorry you wake him up, it is better to do this and help him to get to bed. Because sleeping while sitting means not to spare the intervertebral discs. They are already tired for the whole day, so give them the opportunity to rest at least at night. This pose is also dangerous because it can provoke the onset of edema in a dream.

Beloved by many , the embryo position does not allow the muscles to completely relax. The spine and neck are particularly affected. For women, embryonic posture is dangerous because it puts pressure on the chest and diaphragm.

According to scientists, the ideal sleeping position is on the back . But here, too, some of us are in for an unpleasant surprise, as snoring appears, which wakes everyone around. Also, who makes these loud sounds himself.