13th MARCH: WORLD SLEEP DAY

13/03/20

Do you suffer from insomnia? Do you find it difficult to fall asleep? Do you wake up in the morning feeling tired?

This post may just be what you need. Let’s learn how to identify sleep disorders and to use lights in a smart way.

INSOMNIA AND SLEEP PARALYSIS

Insomnia is a disorder which has a great impact on sleep quality, as is needless to say. Around 10% of the world population suffers from it and up to 8 people out of 10 complain about sleep disorders associated with its three most significantly perceived dimensions: falling asleep, duration of sleep and sleep quality.

Night shift work and intercontinental travels are among the main causes of insomnia. Insomnia sufferers often have to deal with sudden changes in their sleep-wake hours. Additionally, stress and bad habits such as the intake of alcohol, smoking and a rule-free life style also seem to largely affect the quality of sleep.

Even if sleep disorders may already appear in teenage years, older adults are mainly affected by nocturnal awakenings and tiredness after waking up in the morning. The duration and frequency of awakenings is directly proportional to the years gone by as the body’s ability to produce melatonin, a sleep-stimulating hormone, is progressively reduced.

 

On the other hand, sleep paralysis is a less frequent disorder, although it has a highly incisive impact on the quality of life. Sufferers of this disorder hardly forget about it. It consists in waking up during the deepest phase of sleep, known as REM sleep (i.e. rapid eye movement).

This phase is distinguishable by rapid movement of the eyes under the effect of intense brain activity in connection to dreaming, while the muscle tone is low as a result of specific physiological signals output by the brain. If the subject becomes conscious in the middle of REM sleep, s/he can feel a temporary inability to move despite being awake.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

Circadian rhythm is a sort of clock that paces the biological activities of our organism. Sleep and wake are a typical example of these activities. However, it is worth remembering that other significant biological functions such as body temperature, arterial pressure, the heart rate, and the production of hormones are affected by changes in the rhythmic patterns over the 24 hours. These periodic fluctuations are linked to the functionality of some specific nervous structures known as “oscillators”, which are normally synchronised on 24-hour rhythms.

This synchronised clock may also be messed up, literally speaking, by certain external environmental factors that briskly step in. The jet-lag is a specific example of this and we will investigate it more in depth in the coming weeks.

SLEEP AND BLUE LIGHT: HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?

Despite common thinking, blue lights disturb sleep as they deceive the brain to think that it is day time.

In order to get synchronised and determine when our body must be ready for wake or sleep, the circadian rhythm needs signals from the external environment, especially light during the day time and dark in the evening and/or at night.

The sun light and white light contain light waves of different length, each having a significant component of blue light, whose function is to stimulate the sensors in the eyes prompting them to output signals to the clock inside the brain to eventually inhibit the production of hormones such as melatonin.

Exposure to blue light – especially the light of the sun – helps stay awake during the day and foster good mood. It is equally true, however, that electronic devices and smartphones generate a large amount of blue light. If they are used in the evening before going to bed, they can disturb our inner clock and inhibit the production of melatonin, the result being damage to our sleep quality.

 

Did you know? The best seller treatment for men in beauty centres and spas that have chosen Nuvola Experience is the dry floatation session with blue light. If the session is taken before an important meeting or after a sleepless night, it contributes to the regeneration of both body and mind, combining the psycho-physical benefits of floatation to the capability of the diffused lights in the tub to infuse the necessary determination to tackle the work day.

 

RED LIGHT TO FIGHT INSOMNIA

If you were asked to match red light to abstract concepts, your more likely answer would be passion, energy and adrenaline. Actually, red/orange light enhances the quality of sleep because our brain matches these nuances with sunset, thus stimulating melatonin and preparing our body for sleep.

It is no coincidence that latest generation smartphones have a feature to enable “night light” mode, turning the colour of the screen to warm amber shades.

 

Did you know? Nuvola Experience has implemented a “sleep programme” which beauty centres and spas can offer their customers who suffer from sleep disorders: a body ritual given while floating on Nuvola with orange LED light, followed by a relaxing massage laying on Soffio with red LED light and camomile essential oils, lulled by relaxing background music and soft lights in amber shades.

TRIVIAL TRICKS FOR BETTER SLEEP

If you are suffering from chronic disorders that take over your quality of life, our recommendation is to ask for the help of centres specializing in sleep disorders where sleep experts can help you find the right solution.

If your sleep disorders are mainly connected to bad habits or excessive stress, as is the case with many of us, the simple recommendations below may be of help:

  • Avoid blue lights starting from late afternoon.
  • Match red or orange light to your life experiences starting from late afternoon (e.g. spa treatments, smartphone screen setup, lights at home).
  • Use cosmetic products with warm shades (amber, talc, vanilla, chocolate, milk).
  • Drink relaxing lavender-based herb teas.
  • Use natural remedies such as Valerian.
  • Sleep at regular times, combined with constant physical exercise.