What with the stress of not knowing what is going on for sure, layoffs, furloughs, a 24 hour news cycle and a lot of uncertainty about the future, it’s no wonder we’re not sleeping well. But technology, which has kept life moving forward as normally as it can in this time of crisis, has the solution…
Slow delta brainwave sleep (that’s deep sleep to you and me) has a monumental effect on our well being, so much so that it’s often referred to as the foundation of youth. It accounts for about 25 per cent of our shut-eye each night and occurs in stages three and four of the five stage sleep process (following light sleep but preceding the REM dream stage), when our muscles are extremely relaxed and it’s especially hard to wake up.
During this state of sleep, body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate are at their lowest, allowing the body to carry out essential maintenance, healing and boosting the immune system so that we can ward of illness.
At the same time it allows the brain to perform a mental detox, flushing out residual toxic build-up while laying the groundwork for better mental recall.
Unfortunately, this incredibly useful type of sleep dwindles with age. For women, the decline starts at around 35 and for men, around 55.
Interestingly, technology is developing in such a way that it’s fast becoming a valuable ally rather than an enemy of a restful night’s sleep. The Zeez sleep pebble (zeez.org.uk) uses electromagnetic stimulation to help your brain cycle through the sleep stages naturally, including the maximum amount of delta slow wave sleep. It’s not cheap but if you are an anxious insomniac it may be worth the cost.
Alternatively, you could try listening to ‘pink noise’. The steady, balanced mix of high and low frequencies at a barely audible level, helps to improve the quality of your sleep, once you’re already dozing, because your sleeping brain recognises and synchronises with it (unlike white noise which helps you drift off because of its inherent ability to block out all other sound but which also might drive you slightly bonkers). This ear-friendly frequency is available via a number of apps including Sonic Sleep (sonicsleepcoach.com) and Pink Noise (play.google.com).