Everybody needs sleep; and yet many of us suffer from a range of problems when it comes to getting that all important shut-eye. Here at A.Vogel Talks Sleep, our sleep advisor Marianna Kilburn provides information on everything you need to know about sleep: its importance, the causes and symptoms of sleep problems and disorders, and her tips on how to get a better night's sleep. There is also a Q&A service where you can ask Marianna all your sleep-related questions.
Sleep has been defined as the period when you are not awake. This sounds catchy, but may not always be helpful, especially to those who find they can’t sleep very well!
Scientifically speaking, sleep is the regular period in every 24 hours when we are normally unconscious and unaware of our surroundings. Sleep is governed by our body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, and it is this rhythm which becomes disrupted when working night shifts or suffering jet lag.
The renowned Swiss herbalist, Alfred Vogel, once described sleep as ‘the remedy which we cannot do without.’
A very important function of sleep is to restore our body to full function after the ‘wear and tear’ of the day’s activities. This is especially important for our brain. At night, with good sleep, tissues are repaired, organs rest or finish cycles such as flushing out toxins and the brain filters and processes the events of the day.
This is perhaps similar to a crew of maintenance staff moving in to sweep, dust, mop and repair your house, mending cracks that have shown up during the day, emptying the rubbish bins, filing the mail delivered and restoring your home to full working order for the next day.
Two phases of sleep have been identified by experts and scientists. With normal or good sleep, we move from one phase to the other and back again in cycles lasting between 90 and 120 minutes. These phases are known as:
a. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. During this phase, the brain is very active and our eyes move quickly from side to side (hence the name). Dreams occur during REM sleep and when sleeping well, we wake in the morning coming out of REM sleep which is why we remember our last dream of the night
b. Non-REM sleep. During this phase of sleep, our brain is quieter, but our bodies move around the bed more. This is when we experience ‘deep sleep’. Interestingly, sleep-walking takes place during non-REM sleep.
With good sleep we will have short periods lasting for a minute or so during which we are awake. These episodes are normal and take place several times a night – they are part of the way our sleep moves through the REM and non-REM phases.
It is said that the average person needs seven-and-a-half hours sleep a night. However, averages conceal large differences and in truth, the amount of sleep each person requires varies considerably.
Age and personality play a fundamental part. Whilst most of us feel we need 7 to 8 hours sleep a night, there are some well-known examples of people who can get by with only 4 hours.
Generally, we need less sleep the older we get. Newborn babies seem to sleep for most of the day and a young child may require about 10 hours. Thereafter, some form of regression appears to take place, as teenagers seem to spend a great deal of time sleeping and experience great difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. However, this changes and as we pass into the 5th decade of our lives, we seem to require less and less sleep.
In addition to all this, our normal sleeping pattern changes through our adult years. For instance, an older person will sleep very deeply for the first 3 to 4 hours but wake more easily during the second half of the night.
Everybody dreams. EVERYBODY! Simply because you do not remember a dream does not mean that you do not dream
We dream an average of one to two hours every night – and often have 4 to 7 dreams per night
Five minutes after the end of a dream, half the content is forgotten. After ten minutes, 90% is lost
Studies have shown that our brain waves are more active when we are dreaming than when we are awake
Toddlers do not dream about themselves. They do not appear in their own dreams until the age of 3 or 4 years
The amount of sleep an animal needs varies extremely widely – from 18 hours in a python to 3.3 hours for the African elephant and 1.9 hours for the giraffe. Cats are said to sleep for 12.1 hours on average, but this figure is hotly disputed by a number of cat lovers.
Join experts Eileen Durward and Alison Cullen in the beautiful A.Vogel garden as they talk about sleep and why it is the one remedy we cannot do without. Discover their tips on how to improve your sleep quality including lifestyle changes and how herbs such as Hops and Valerian can help promote a better night’s sleep.
Join today for lots of simple energy-boosting tips and advice from our nutritionist Emma and her team of experts sent to you over 6 days to help revitalise your energy levels, as well as a sample of our Balance Mineral Drink which is packed with energy-boosting minerals.