Surely you've wondered why you don't sleep well, why are you tired most of the day or why you have completely random power peaks. We have all wondered that at some point.
Investigating a little about this, I entered an abyss of information that I did not know and perhaps can help you: the Circadian rhtyms, the chronotypes and the sleep cycles.
Circadian rhythms are the rhythms at which our body changes its physical and mental characteristics throughout the day, that is, the schedules that the different organs follow to produce hormones, start and end processes, and so on. And ... that are controlled by light!
Surely you have heard your grandparents say that before they lived better, you rested more and there was not so much stress in society. That is because before (when all this was field), there were not so many light sources, like the screens of computers, mobiles and televisions (in addition to all the lights in the house), so our brain was not so clueless about what time of day it was and when to put the rest of the body to work.
You may be wondering "what do I care about circadian rhythms?" Well, they give you a lot.
We all have our own biological clock (no, not the one that tells you that the time has come to have children) that determines the type of circadian rhythm our body follows. These are called the "Chronotypes" and there are 3 types:
- Morning: those who go to bed early, wake up early and have higher levels of early productivity.
☀️ Wake-up time: 5:00 -7:00
🌙 Bedtime: 20:00 - 22:00
2. Evening: people who stay up late, wake up late and are more productive when it gets dark.
☀️ Time to wake up: 9:00 - 12:00
🌙 Bedtime: 23:00 - 3:00
3. Intermediate: As their name suggests, they do not fit into any of the above, either because their circadian rhythms are irregular or have different schedules (the majority of the population).
This reveals many of the keys to the lack of performance and tiredness throughout the day. For example: let's say you are an evening chronotype (you are more active in the afternoons / nights) and you go to bed at 2am, but your work schedule forces you to wake up at 7:00. If your body doesn't really kick in until 10 am, there is a 3 hour interval in which you are in "zombie" mode, and by the time your energy spike hits at 9 pm, your shift will have ended.
I think that whoever created the work and school hours in society had a morning chronotype and did not take the rest into account.
That is why many companies (and now more with teleworking) are beginning to advocate for schedule flexibility: this not only improves productivity and work efficiency, but would follow our natural cycles of activity and exponentially increase the quality of life and mental health of workers (or students).
Sleep cycles and their phases
Now that we understand that there are physiological schedules that we cannot control and that "condemn" us in the long term, there are other things in which we can influence, at least a little.
For this, we have to know the sleep cycles.
Sleep is made up of a series of cycles that are repeated several times while sleeping. Every cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is made up of 4 phases: the first three are known as "NREM”(No REM) and the last one is the REM phase.
The NREM phases are known as 1, 2 and 3.
- In the first one, you have a extremely light sleep, because the body is transitioning from being awake (waking state) to being asleep. If we wake up here, we will have the feeling of not having slept at all.
- In the second one, sleep remains light, but the brain waves are slowing down and you are falling into a deeper dream.
- The third one, is where sleep is deepest. If we wake up in this phase, we will be confused, disoriented and probably in a bad mood. This is where sleepwalking episodes and night terrors (waking up with a feeling of panic) can also appear.
The REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement) consists of a period of time in which the eyes move quickly from one side to the other, paralyze the limbs (temporarily), where dreams take place and the physiological reparation of the body begins. As more cycles are completed, this phase lengthens. When you get out of this, the cycle starts again from the beginning.
Knowing this, we can understand why there are days that even if you sleep 4 and a half hours you wake up as fresh as a daisy and when you have slept 10 hours you have ruined the rest of the day.
Ideally, completing 5 to 6 cycles per night (7 hours and 30 minutes or 9 hours) and waking up right at the end of REM phase or beginning stage 1 is the best. To be able to control this a little more, you can calculate the time to which you go to sleep and to which you should go to bed, the sleep cycles that you will have completed by then, and set an alarm for when the sleep cycle in which you want to wake up ends. If this is very confusing, we leave you an online calculator to help you: https://mejordormir.com/
We hope that each day you wake up at the end of a REM phase.