Feeling a little down in the dumps? Do you have a mysterious case of the blues? It’s natural to experience mood fluctuations. Everything from your hormones to stress and your lifestyle can impact your emotions. So, how can you boost your happiness levels?
While there are plenty of ways to perk yourself up, one way to start may be to improve your sleep routine. Within this guide, we will take a look at exactly what that means.
What Science Says About Sleep and Happiness
If you’re not getting your 40 winks each night, you might find that your emotions start to suffer. We’ve all woken up on the wrong side of the bed from time to time.
But how does your sleep quality affect your mood? New research from Bern University suggests that getting more rapid eye movement (REM) sleep can help to lower the impact of negative emotions while also consolidating happy emotions. Win-win.
According to the Sleep Foundation, REM is the sleep phase connected with memory consolidation and dreaming. Since it was discovered in the 1950s, experts have put a lot of emphasis on this type of sleep. When you are in the REM phase, your eyes move rapidly, your breathing becomes irregular, and your heart rate speeds up.
This is the fourth phase of sleep — i.e. it occurs last in your sleep cycle. To get a better understanding of how these phases work, here’s a quick overview of them:
Light sleep (stage one)
The first phase of sleep is light sleep. At this time, your mind starts to slow down, your body relaxes, and your brain waves enter a low-amplitude mixed-frequency (LAMF). However, your breathing is still regular while you are in this stage of the cycle.
Light sleep (stage two)
The second phase of the cycle is still known as light sleep but there are some physiological changes that you should note here. Both your heart rate and body temperature goes down at this point. You will soon slowly start moving into deep sleep.
Deep sleep (stage three)
Next up, your body moves into the deep sleep stage of the cycle. Your brain waves move to the delta phase and it would be difficult to wake you up at this time. This is the point when the body starts to physically repair itself. Your immune system starts to boost at this time and your muscles, tissues, and bones start to become stronger.
REM sleep (stage four)
As we have already mentioned, REM sleep is when you start to experience a loss of muscle tone and your eyes move rapidly. It’s also when your heart rate rises and your breathing becomes more irregular. This particular phase of sleep is highly important.
Experts suggest that REM sleep is vital in dreaming, how we process memories, emotional processing, and your overall brain development. Put simply, if you’re not getting enough REM sleep, you may find that it has a negative impact on your wellbeing.
How to Improve Your Sleep Quality: 4 Tips
Ready to improve your sleep quality? While there’s no magic bullet that will make all the difference, there are some things you can do. Here are four approaches to try:
1. Create a bedtime routine
Do you have a bedtime routine? Or — like all too many of us — do you end up falling asleep whenever you feel tired? If the answer is the latter, it may be time to change things up. You can quickly improve your sleep quality by sticking to an everyday routine. For some that could include drawing a relaxing bath, practicing grounding yoga, or simply unwinding at a similar time each night.
Going to sleep at roughly the same time each evening is a good place to start. However, you may also want to consider ways you can unwind in the evening. Have a bath before you go to bed or even read a book for half an hour to help you relax and de-stress.
2. Get the temperature right
If you like to be toasty and warm when you get into bed, we’ve got some bad news for you. Should your bedroom be too hot — or even too cold — you might find that it is difficult to sleep well. Of course, we are all different here, but there are some guidelines that help.
Experts suggest that the ideal temperature to sleep in is between 66 and 70 °F (or 18 and 21°C). Needless to say, you may need to adjust this depending on what type of duvet you have, your body type, and other personal factors. Keep that in mind!
3. Lower your screen time
Are you staring at your smartphone before you go to bed? If the last thing you do at night is check your emails, scroll through Instagram, or chat on WhatsApp, that may be hindering your sleep pattern. The more screen time you have, the worse it could be.
Research from Sutter Health suggests that having two or more hours of screen time at night can disrupt your sleep pattern. The habit can lower your melatonin levels. The hormone controls your sleep cycle and is necessary if you want decent REM sleep.
4. Avoid caffeine late in the day
Coffee addicts beware. Consuming too much caffeine can have a negative impact on your sleep patterns. Experts suggest that the substance can slow down the onset of sleep and also lower your overall sleep quality and satisfaction. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a hot cup of java in the day, slow down on these drinks when evening falls.
And if you struggle with winding down for sleep, or staying asleep, consider looking into sleep supplements. If you're still stumped, and counting sheep won't help, talk to your doctor about sleep meditation.
Now that you know the facts, what are you waiting for? Improving your sleep routine is easier than you might imagine. Making these small changes to your lifestyle may help you get the REM sleep that you need to improve your mood.