Ok, as promised...I am posting a blog about sleep! Yep, sleep, something we all need, just don't seem to get enough of!
A little background on sleep. There are two major stages of sleep, NonREM and REM. NonREM sleep is when our metabolism, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tone, and respirations decrease. REM sleep, is when we are dreaming. During this stage, our heart rate and respirations can increase and we have that Rapid Eye Movement from where the sleep stage gets its name. This is when we dream. Men can experience an erection (as well as women with clitoral engorgement), guess the are having sex dreams when this happens! LOL. REM is our restorative phase of our sleep and is very important.
Sleep is affected by so many of our daily activities. If you have a chronic lung disease, maybe asthma or COPD, you can be up all night due to shortness of breath or can't lay a certain way because it will affect your breathing, thus affecting your sleep. Or if you are in pain (maybe from doing a million sit ups, and then getting a new PR in back squat), you have more trouble sleeping.
Drugs affect our sleep. I am not talking about any hardcore kind of drugs, but ones that we may take/use on a regular basis. Caffeine can prevent you from falling asleep. It also interferes with your REM sleep, and if you are awaken at night, you can have difficulty falling asleep. Alcohol, our favorite, is great at making you fall asleep quickly, but it actually reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. So, you are decreasing the quality of sleep you are getting. With some of the sleep aides, you may fall asleep faster, but they may prevent you from reaching REM. They are to used for TEMPORARY relief only of insomnia, and some of them can cause daytime drowsiness. So, if you use them, make sure you read the directions. If if says get 8 hours of sleep, then plan to get a full 8 hours.
I was reading a study that compared Caucasians and African Americans. On AVERAGE women got more sleep than the men of each race, and Caucasians on average got more sleep than African Americans. According to my textbook, men have more difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Women can have problems with sleep due to hormones (stupid hormones). But women's hormones do fluctuate during the month and this can have an impact on sleep.