Many people suffer from insomnia. A recent survey showed that at any given time, 10%-30% of adults have insomnia. Up to 50% of adults will experience it in a given year. People over the age of 65 are more affected than younger people. With our baby boomer generation increasing the population above that age, there will be even more potential insomniacs in our population in the near future. Women are 40% more likely to experience insomnia, especially post-menopause. In fact, 70% of stay-at-home mothers report having insomnia. It is also more likely in college students than in the general population.
Health Effects of Insomnia
The problem with insomnia is that the body needs rest in order to heal. Growth hormone is only produced during sleep. If there is no sleep, cortisol levels stay high, producing a perpetual state of stress. When you don’t get enough rest, you remain tired and foggy-brained throughout the day. Many people also become irritable, adding interpersonal stress on top of their physiological stress.
Sleep is a complicated process. We go through five different phases in the sleep process, and that cycle is repeated every 90 minutes.
Stage one lasts about 10 minutes, and is characterized by light sleep. We drift in and out of sleep, and can be awakened easily. We often experience visual imagery and sudden muscle contractions. The latter are sometimes associated with a feeling of falling.
Stage Two sleep lasts the longest, around 45 minutes. There are no eye movements. Brain wave activity slows down with occasional bursts of faster waves called “sleep spindles.”
Stage three sleep consists of very slow delta brain waves alternating with faster waves of shorter duration. Stage three lasts about 10 minutes.
Stage four sleep is almost completely slow delta brain waves. Stage four lasts about 10 minutes, also. Stages three and four together are known as deep sleep. It is very difficult to wake someone from deep sleep. There is no eye movement or muscle activity during deep sleep. If you are a sleep walker, it occurs during deep sleep.
The last stage of sleep is REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. Our breathing becomes faster, irregular, and shallow. Eyes jerk rapidly in different directions. Arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed. Heart rate increases, as well as blood pressure. Dreaming occurs during this last stage of sleep which lasts about 20 minutes.
Each sleep cycle, comprising the five stages described above, lasts between 90 and 110 minutes. When we first fall asleep, the REM stages are short, and the Deep Sleep stages longer. As we continue to sleep, the REM stages become longer, while Deep Sleep stages get shorter. By morning, we spend nearly all our time in Stages One, Two and REM.
Many substances interfere with a good night’s sleep. Caffeine-containing beverages (coffee, black tea, Coke, Mountain Dew, etc.), diet pills (amphetamines), and decongestants (pseudoephedrine, Neo-Synephrine, Sudafed, etc.) all stimulate some parts of the brain. They can all cause insomnia. Depending on your sensitivity, the length of time before bedtime when you can safely ingest such substances will vary. Some sensitive people report that drinking tea or coffee as early as 2:00 PM will disturb their sleep. Only experimentation and observation will help you determine your safe time.
Many antidepressants, while helping you sleep, will suppress REM sleep. Heavy smokers generally sleep very lightly and can be awakened after 3-4 hours by nicotine craving. They also have reduced amounts of REM sleep. Alcohol will help you fall into a light sleep, but it too does not allow much REM time, nor the restorative deep sleep stages.
Losing REM and dream time has profound psychological effects. We try to resolve our stress and frustrations from the previous day in our dreams. Without that outlet to relieve stress, we carry our stress into the next day, often converting that stress into physical tension wherever we tend to carry it in our bodies. Losing deep sleep takes away the opportunity for physical restoration and repair. The body produces growth hormone and proteins to repair cells primarily during deep sleep.
Extreme changes in temperature can also affect sleep. During REM sleep, we lose some of the ability to regulate our body temperature. Extreme hot or cold temperatures can therefore disrupt REM sleep. When we lose REM sleep, we try to play catch-up the following night. We will have extended periods of REM sleep to make up the deficit. Thus, our normal sleep cycle will be thrown off.
Sleep is essential. Mice deprived of sleep live very short lives. Mice deprived of REM sleep lose 97 % of their life span. Deprived of all sleep they live even shorter lives. That would be like a sleep-deprived human living only 2-3 years. Sleep deprivation also has detrimental affects on the immune system.
Lack of sleep affects our nervous system. It impairs our concentration the next day. It also leads to poor memory and physical performance. Further sleep deprivation may create hallucinations and mood swings. Studies have also shown that shift workers, who sleep at unusual times, have an increased risk of heart problems, digestive disorders, and emotional/mental problems. All of these can be attributed to their sleeping patterns. It has also been found that people with disturbed sleep notice pain more than well-rested individuals.
At least 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders. An additional 20 million experience occasional sleep disturbance. That’s almost 20% of the U.S. population. Of those 60 million, two-thirds are women. Sixteen billion dollars is spent each year on sleep-related disorders.
Sleeping pills only offer a temporary fix. Most stop working after a few weeks, and have harmful side effects, and actually interfere with good sleep with continued use.
PEMF Sleep Programs
Sleep is a complex subject, which is why we have developed three different sleep programs to address sleep issues in different people.
Sleep Promotion Program
Sleep Promotion is our primary sleep program and is one of the 15 wellness programs included with the MR7 Basic software. Most people find that the Sleep Promotion program helps relieve insomnia within a week of consistent use. It should be started 30 minutes before retiring for the night and will run for almost 6.5 hours before automatically turning off.
Sleep Natural Rhythm Program*
For the few who still have trouble sleeping after using the Sleep Promotion program for a week, Sleep Natural Rhythm provides another method of addressing insomnia. This program gently progresses through five 90-minute sleep cycles, moving from Stage 1 through REM Sleep. Again, it should be started 30 minutes before going to bed and will run for a little over 7.5 hours before stopping.
Sleep QS (Quiet Sympathetic) Program*
The third program in our Sleep Wellness series, Sleep QS is yet another approach to inducing sleep for those who have tried Sleep Promotion and Sleep Natural Rhythm but still need help. This program, like the others, should be started 30 minutes before going to bed, will run for 6 hours, and will then turn off.
Although the Sleep Promotion program works well for most, different people respond to different programs--one of the three programs should work for everyone.
*Sleep Natural Rhythm and Sleep QS are only available through the MR7 Pro software.
Here is a summary of things you can do to improve the duration and quality of your sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time each night, and wake up at around the same time each morning (+/- 30 min).
- Keep your bedroom dark.
- Turn off electronics. No TV or Cell Phones.
- Keep the room temperature on the cool side--70°F is ideal for most people.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 5 hours before going to bed.
- Take a relaxing bath or meditate before bedtime.
- Soft music can also lull you to sleep. Be sure the music is set to turn itself off.
- Avoid reading and watching TV in bed.
- Don’t do anything in or on your bed that is associated with being awake.