Choosing Comfy Pillows, Understanding Sleep Cycles, and Other Light Sleeping Tips and Tricks
With so many options for people to sleep sounder, deeper, and harder; are there any benefits to sleeping lighter?
Believe it or not, there can be.
Sometimes light sleep is necessary to be more aware of our surroundings like when a child or family member is ill. Maybe you are unable to awaken to the sound of an early morning alarm and an important event or job is approaching.
Whatever the reason, there are options to help you train your body to awaken easier by creating an environment conducive to a lighter sleep.
Making sure your pillows are comfortable
Just because you want to sleep lighter, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be comfortable. Getting out of bed can be quite painful if you don’t sleep in a comfortable position.
A supportive, memory foam pillow can make all the difference. You don’t want your light sleep to feel like a struggle, so you should avoid pillows that are too thin, too thick, too soft, or too hard. Instead, opt for an orthopedic pillow that will support your head and your neck.
If you are a stomach sleeper, we recommend this thin pillow that has ergonomic edges and provides extra comfort. To avoid getting out of bed with neck and back pain, you can try this orthopedic knee pillow and this adjustable loft pillow.
Understanding Deep Sleep Cycles
There are several stages of sleep. We will divide them up into four groups for ease of understanding.
The first step of sleep is when you begin to close your eyes your body is at rest. This stage it is the easiest to wake up from. Once your body has relaxed from this first step it transitions to step 2.
In step 2 your body temperature and heart rate both drop to prepare you for deep sleep. It is still relatively easy to awaken and be alert in step 2 of your sleep cycle.
Deep sleep occurs during the third stage. The third stage is the deepest sleep is the precursor to REM sleep. During this third phase your body is in a deep sleep and it is much harder to wake up. You will also be groggy if woken up from this stage.
Lastly there is REM sleep, this is the stage you dream. When people awaken during REM stage they are typically difficult to get up and very groggy for a while.
You repeatedly cycle through these stages every night when you go to bed.
Sleep Lighter for Short Periods
Deep sleep and REM sleep are important to help you stay well rested and functional during the day. It is only recommended to purposely try and sleep lighter for brief periods. It is also good practice to alternate nights between deep and light sleep.
Sleeping lighter can be important when sleeping with an infant, whether it is because you are a new baby, sick child, or a parent that simply feels safer with your child close.
Keeping a child in a parents bed is known as co-sleeping. Sleeping lighter when a child is in the bed can be very helpful by keeping you mindful where your child is relative to your body. Sleeping lighter can also alert you to a child waking up from hunger, thirst, or not feeling well.
Do you constantly miss your alarm?
Learning to sleep lighter in the early morning hours can make it easier for you to arise. Maybe you just started a new job and are adjusting to a new sleep schedule. By training yourself to sleep lighter, you will be able to also train your body to wake up more easily at the sound of your alarm.
After a few weeks, you most likely won’t even need to worry about whether you are sleeping light or deep. You will simply wake up at your scheduled time.
So now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why you may need to sleep lighter, here are some helpful tips to help you achieve a lighter sleep.
First, try sleeping with a dimmable light or night light. By sleeping in a partially lit room you are less likely to fall into a deep sleep for extended periods of time. The less time spent in the deep sleeping stages, the easier it will be to awaken when a sound or disturbance is heard.
A good way to keep the room lit to your needs is to chose an adjustable light bulb.
These bulbs are controllable from your smartphone and have a variety of options to chose from. Experimenting with various colors and brightness levels can help you find the setting that is best for you to sleep the lightest without causing too much of a disturbance to your sleep.
Another great way to lighten your sleep is to leave a television set on low in the background. Having constant low noise and dim light will keep you in the stages of sleep that are easier to awaken from.
This technique also shortens REM cycles and makes it easier to wake up.
Lastly, setting a good quality alarm to sound periodically through the night can lighten your deep sleeping. Choosing an alarm that includes a vibration setting can also be helpful for deep sleepers.
Sleeping lighter is possible with some minor adjustments. Using the tips provided, you can arise more quickly and be more alert in the evening and overnight hours.
Remember that your body and mind need deep sleep and purposely sleeping lighter should only be used for a short duration and/or be alternated with days of deep and restful sleep.