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Originally Posted On: The science behind a good night’s sleep – SleepHub
Why sleep is good for you
SleepHub® is designed to help improve your wellbeing through better quality sleep (you can find out how it works here) but why is sleep essential to your wellbeing?
Good quality sleep can provide many benefits for your mind and body. Optimising your sleep pattern around physical or mental activities can also help to achieve marginal gains such as improving memory, learning abilities and physical performance. But sleep deprivation or fragmented rest can be detrimental to your health, and long term sleep issues can have a sustained impact. This is why it’s important to keep a healthy and regular sleep pattern.
The impact of sleep
- Sleep quality and duration can directly and indirectly impact physical and psychological health. (University of Surrey research)
- Sleep contributes to improved physical and mental performance. (Liverpool John Moores University study)
- Sleep can reduce the risk coronary of heart disease. Six to eight hours is the optimum length of nightly sleep to reduce the risk. (Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre study)
- Sleep can affect the hormones that influence your appetite. Good sleep can reduce the chances of weight gain and diabetes. (King’s College London study)
- Sleep lowers the levels of cortisol hormones in your bloodstream. Higher cortisol levels can negatively impact your immune system. (University of Chicago study)
- Sleep can decrease the chances of seizures, high blood pressure, migraines and depression. (Johns Hopkins Medicine)
- Studies have shown insomnia can contribute to psychotic experiences and other mental health problems. (Analysis published in The Lancet)
How much sleep do you really need?
If you feel like you don’t get enough sleep, SleepHub® could be the answer. The average adult should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, according to a US study by the National Sleep Foundation. However, lack of sleep – or ‘sleep deficiency’ – has been labelled an epidemic by leading experts in the science of sleep such as Dr. Charles Czeisler from the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. According to Czeisler, one in three people in the workplace screen positive for a sleep disorder and 80-85% are undiagnosed or untreated.
What happens when you sleep?
SleepHub has been developed based on years of research into what makes and helps us sleep. Although falling asleep may feel like your brain and body is shutting down, there is actually a lot happening inside your brain. The brain moves through five different cycles of sleep and within each cycle there are different sleep stages and electrical patterns or waves that occur.
The first four stages of the sleep cycle are non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During the first two stages in which you fall into light sleep, your body gently transitions into a dormant state as your heart rate and breathing regulate and your temperature drops before you enter deep sleep (stages three and four).
The fifth stage is where REM sleep occurs, meaning your closed eyes move more rapidly and your breath rate increases. During this stage, your brain waves are closer to those you experience when you’re awake, but your body becomes temporarily paralysed as you dream.
These five cycles should typically repeat four or five times during a good night’s sleep, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. As each cycle passes, you experience the deeper stages of sleep for shorter periods until you eventually wake.
Influencing the quality of your sleep
The stages you experience in each cycle of sleep are regulated by your own behaviour and biological clock, according to the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute. But external factors such as light, sound and movement can also affect each cycle, ultimately impacting how quickly you fall asleep, the quality of sleep and your ability to stay asleep.
At Cambridge Sleep Sciences, we questioned how external factors can be used to influence brain behaviour to achieve the good quality sleep you need. Our understanding of sleep cycles combined with our ability to replicate them through sound led us to the creation of SleepHub which re-trains the brain to revert to natural sleep cycles. More on how SleepHub works can be found below.
What causes poor sleep?
SleepHub can also help to improve quality of life for people who don’t have trouble falling asleep, but often don’t sleep well. Poor quality sleep and problems falling and staying asleep can be caused by various factors. Stressful or troubling life events such as job worries, a house move or a global pandemic can easily distract your brain from helping you drift off at night. Living in a noisy neighbourhood or simply not having a thick enough set of curtains can mean sound and light can impact your sleep. Your diet can also have an impact, with sugary foods and caffeinated beverages being common culprits for sleep issues.
The more external factors impact your sleep cycles, the harder it is for your brain to revert to natural sleep. Influencing good brain behaviour is the same as influencing good physical behaviour – if you take up a sport, you’ll get better at it the more you practice. The same goes for sleep. And just like the way bad habits form, the more you experience lack of sleep or fragmented sleep, the more likely you will be to experience long term sleep issues.
How SleepHub could help improve your wellbeing
While many products are designed to help you mask sleep issues, SleepHub is a unique sleep device that guides your brain down the forgotten path towards natural sleep. At Cambridge Sleep Sciences, we’ve developed an effective combination of science and technology to combat the causes of poor-quality sleep and insomnia. This helps free you from sleep anxiety and the side effects of sleep deprivation which can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues.
Optimising SleepHub for your unique sleep requirements
SleepHub features four modes which guide you through a series of sleep cycles to support you throughout the night and imitate your brain’s natural sleep patterns. Each mode will play a variety of pure tones that enable the brain to relax and find its natural sleep pattern. Essentially, these sounds act as a guide-track for your brain, re-training it to revert to those natural sleep cycles and helping you feel reinvigorated.
Users can also select from a variety of optional soundscapes to effectively mask the sound of the pure tones. These sounds are non-intrusive, enabling the brain to relax and the sleep sound to do its work.
Tips for achieving natural sleep with SleepHub
SleepHub features a variety of modes to suit different sleep issues and lifestyles.
If you simply want a full recommended eight hours of restful, natural sleep every night, Deep Sleep mode will train your brain to sleep better through repeated nightly use. This is the ideal mode for people who have regular day-to-day schedules which allow them full undisturbed eight hour rest periods.
If you lead a busier lifestyle and struggle to allocate a full eight hours of your schedule to rest, Easy Sleep mode will help you achieve natural sleep in however much time you can dedicate to sleeping. This mode automatically adjusts the Deep Sleep programme, delivering the optimum sleep pattern depending on how long you have between going to bed and when you need to wake up. SleepHub customises the programme to fit into your allotted rest time.
Living with a more sporadic or fractured schedule or working in a stressful job can make it difficult to switch off and get the right kind of rest. If you struggle to fall asleep but once you do, stay asleep, you can use Fall Asleep mode to help guide you into the first stage of deep sleep. The two-hour sleep programme guides you into a deep sleep with optional wake-up alarm.
From time to time we all need a nourishing nap. In some professions such as sports and fitness, napping is essential to aiding performance and recovery. Power Nap mode is perfect for planned or impromptu rest, helping you to enjoy a revitalising nap for durations of 30, 45 or 60 minutes.
Finally, to ensure you get the best from you SleepHub you should use it in conjunction with other sleep hygiene best practice, including reducing external light in your room, creating a restful environment before bed and regulating room temperature to around 16°C (65°F), as recommended by the Sleep Foundation.
Practice makes permanent
As previously stated, reverting to your natural sleep cycle is like training for any sport and the more often you let your brain ‘practice’ getting back into natural sleep patterns using SleepHub, the better your experience will be.
Your brain has two sides – the left brain and the right brain. A section called the corpus callosum, a thick nerve tract runs down the middle. Practice strengthens the fibres in this part of the brain, allowing information to pass better between the left and right brain. SleepHub uses its left and right speakers to deliver different pure tones to each ear. This means that the more you use SleepHub, the more the fibres in the central part of the brain are strengthened, improving whole brain synchronisation as your brain gets better at passing information back and forth between each side. This strengthening of the brain’s connections is just like muscle growth and it’s called neuroplasticity.
The benefits of whole brain synchronisation can include an increase in overall mental health, enhanced cognitive performance and problem solving ability, better memory and creativity and less anxiety. Studies suggest that the REM stages of sleep play an essential role in strengthening the brain’s ability to memorise information and good sleep can support this. Therefore, getting better sleep can yield better learning results and improve your memory.
For all of these reasons it’s important to maintain the use of your SleepHub long after you have started feeling a difference in order to continue the training of the brain. During development, our tests showed some people report benefits within a few days while others can take several weeks. Each person’s sleep journey is unique but we recommend all users repeat their chosen sleep mode on a nightly or daily basis.