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Home > Nature Cure Treatments > Sleep Therapy > Duration and Positions of Sleep
Duration and Positions of Sleep
Dr. Nathaniel KieitmanAnother mystery about sleep is that no two persons need the same amount of sleep. Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, Associate Professor of Physiology at the University of Chicago, who conducted years of extensive experiments at the University`s keeping laboratory says that there is no more a normal duration of sleep than there is normal height and weight. A study of 25 subjects spread over thousands of nights showed that the avarage amount of sleep needed to feel well rested is seven-and-a-half hours, though individuals varied from six to nine hours. According to Dr. Demmis Williams, a noted authority on sleep, the amount of sleep needed for an individual`s well being, is determined bv what he feels he needs, not by what other people, including the doctor, think is reasonable.

On the whole, women sleep from 45 minutes to one hour more than men. The amount of sleep required varies at different ages as follows:
New born: 18 to 20 hours
Growing children: 10 to 12 hours
Adults: 6 to 9 hours
Aged persons: 5 to 7 hours
Throughout the sleep the depth of ordinary restful sleep fluctuates. In most adults, sleep deepens through the first hour, after which it lightens rather sharply and then more gradually until morning or until the usual time of wakening. However in growing children sleep deepens a second time for a little while. According to Dr. Lindlahr, a famous naturopath, two hours before and two hours after midnight are the most valuable for sleep of all the twenty-four hours of the day. In these four hours, mental and physical vigour are at their lowest ebb and sleep is soundest and most natural.

It is believed that three-quarters of our sleep consists of what is called `slow wave sleep`. The restorative processes occur during this time. The remaining quarter is taken by what is called `rapid eye movement (REM) sleep`. It is also called paradoxical or dreaming sleep and it comes in episodes of about 20 minutes duration about five times in a night. It involves dreaming, irregular heart rates, raised blood pressure and erection of the penis. It is in this phase of sleep that normal healthy young men may have wet dreams. Both forms of sleep are considered equally important, being normal sleeping rhythms.

Sleeping positions
There are many theories about good and bad sleeping positions. Practically everyone changes positions several times during sleep. Hence how one starts out is of no consequence. It is a good thing we do turn about in our beds. If we did not, we would awaken in the morning stiff, having maintained the same position all night. For proper sleep, however, one should not sleep on one`s back but on the side with one or both legs brought well up and the head and the shoulder slightly forward.

Sleeping pills are no remedy for sleeplessness. They are habit-forming and become less effective when taken continuously. They lower the I.Q., dull the brain and can prove fatal if taken in excess or before or after alcohol. The side effect of sleeping pills include indigestion, skin rashes, lowered resistance to infection, circulatory and respiratory problems, poor appetite, high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems and mental confusion.

Sleeping well is an art. It needs a perfect blend of healthy habits and control of mind. A clean body and mind, relaxed mood, physical exercises, and perfect dietary control are some of the basic sleep-inducing methods.

Unpleasant situations at bed time such as arguments, quarrels, watching a horror movie, listening to loud music which would create anxiety, fear, excitement and worries should be avoided. Such situations stimulate the cerebral cortex and tend to keep one awake.

The sleeping place should be well ventilated, with balanced temperature and free from noises. The bed should be neither too hard nor too soft, but comfortable. The pillow should not be too hard or too high. The bed clothes should be loose-fitting and light coloured. Another important rule is not to eat heavy food shortly before bed time.
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