Determine what kind of sleeper you are… then follow my drug-free plan
I’m always suggesting you get seven to nine hours of quality shuteye each night.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. don’t get anywhere NEAR that amount. This lack of sleep raises the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, obesity, and more.
Fortunately, as I’ll explain, there are FOUR science-backed strategies that can help you eliminate common sleep saboteurs and “crack the code” on getting better ZZZs.
But first, let’s examine the different stages of sleep—and what it may mean for your health if you struggle during any one of them…
The four sleep stages
During any given night, you will (hopefully) go through four-to-six full sleep cycles.1 And each cycle consists of four stages:
- Stage 1: Light, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep. Lasts about one to five minutes.
- Stage 2: Deeper non-REM sleep. Lasts about 25 minutes, lengthening with each subsequent cycle.
- Stage 3: Deepest non-REM sleep. Last about 30 to 60 minutes, shortening with each subsequent cycle.
- Stage 4: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Lasts about 10 minutes, lengthening with each subsequent cycle.
Here are the specific, essential functions the body performs during each stage in the sleep cycle…
Stage 1: Your eyes and muscles start to twitch, your heart rate slows down, and your brain starts producing high-amplitude theta waves. Experts believe these slow brain waves help you store memories and process information.2
If you struggle during this stage: You may have difficulty solving problems, recalling where you put your keys, or even learning how to perform a new task. Researchers also link theta wave dysfunction to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and anxiety.
Stage 2: This is a deeper period of sleep where your eye movements and muscle twitches stop. Your heart rate continues to slow. Your body temperature drops. And your brain starts producing “sleep spindles”—a type of brain wave that looks like a “burst” of activity on electroencephalogram (EEG) tests.3
Researchers think these “bursts” help shut down your senses, reducing the likelihood that external stimuli will wake you up. (They also tend to spike following a period of intense learning.)
Of course, older adults have fewer sleep spindles. (They tend to look smaller and disappear faster on EEGs.)
In addition, people who suffer from memory impairments or AD, chronic pain, anxiety, and even schizophrenia also exhibit fewer spindles. This suggests that improving this stage of sleep could, in turn, help improve these conditions.
If you struggle during this stage: Here again, processing new memories and information… especially those involving new motor skills… will likely be negatively impacted.
Stage 3: This is the deepest stage of sleep. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate drop even further.4 It’s also when you get the most restorative sleep…
During this stage, your brain begins producing delta waves—the slowest of all the waves that help the brain “wash away” toxins.
In addition, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels spike, refueling your cells’ energy stores for the day to come. Your pituitary gland starts sending out human growth hormone to help repair muscles and other tissues. And vital cell regeneration occurs, too.
If you struggle during this stage: Experts think this stage is absolutely critical for keeping your blood sugar levels and immune system healthy. So, any long-term disruptions may set you up for not just catching a cold… but also developing a chronic disease, such as Type 2 diabetes.
People who don’t get enough of this “deep-wave” sleep also tend to experience more fatigue during the day.5
Stage 4: Also known as REM sleep, this is the last stage in the sleep cycle. It’s when your eyes begin their “rapid” movements, your heart rate speeds up, and your breathing becomes irregular.6
At the same time, brain activity increases to nearly wakeful levels. And there’s important, new activity in the amygdala, the part of your brain that processes emotions.
You will also likely begin to experience vivid dreams and a kind of temporary paralysis—called atonia—during this stage. (Some think this prevents you from acting out your vivid dreams and harming yourself.)
If you struggle during this stage: The brain continues to process new information and store new skills learned during the day. So, if you don’t get enough REM sleep, it can affect your memory, concentration, and functional abilities.
Not to mention, a recent study conducted by researchers with Johns Hopkins University found that people who spend less time in REM sleep have a much higher risk of dying early.7
In fact, for every 5 percent loss of REM sleep, they had a 13 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or anything else over the 12-year study period. Those shocking risks held up even after the researchers eliminated other factors that may influence lifespan.
In the end, they concluded that REM sleep is the “most important sleep stage associated with survival.”
Plus, since REM sleep increases in duration as the night goes on, so-called “short-sleepers” (people who sleep less than six hours per night and spend less time in the REM stage) may be particularly vulnerable to dying early.
And that point brings me to my next question…
What type of sleeper are you?
According to a new study involving more than 100,000 people in the U.K., there are 16 distinct types of sleepers.8 And they exist on a spectrum.
At one end of the spectrum, there are the fortunate folks who can sleep all the way through the night for seven to nine hours—without taking naps during the day.
At the other end are the poor souls who have trouble falling asleep. Then, when they do finally fall asleep, they sleep for a long time—but with multiple periods of wakefulness during the night and daytime drowsiness.
Other clusters of sleepers involve:
- People who have trouble falling asleep, but then sleep soundly through the rest of the night.
- People with “fragmented” sleep who fall asleep fine, but have trouble staying asleep.
- People with “short sleep” who don’t have trouble falling asleep, but tend to wake up after six hours or less.
- People with “fragmented” and “short sleep.”
- People who have irregular sleep schedules due to shift work.
- People who are “early birds” or “night owls.”
A number of different factors determine the type of sleeper you are—including your genetic background and environmental factors.
Interestingly, researchers hope to one day tailor treatments based on the type of sleeper you are.
Tips for better sleep
No matter what type you are, there are many science-backed strategies you can use to wind down quicker and stay asleep longer… without resorting to drugs.
Here are a just a few of my recommendations:
- Listen to some “binaural beat” tracks before bed. Cutting-edge research shows that listening to “binaural beat” tracks at the delta frequency of 3 Hz can reduce feelings of anxiety and help you drift off to sleep faster.
They also seem to increase those important delta brain waves we talked about earlier, which your brain ONLY produces during the deep stage 3 sleep.9
These beats include the gentle, relaxing sounds of waterfalls, rain, crashing waves, simple white noise, and more. And you can easily find sample tracks on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and more. (Just be wary of the blue light emitted from you phone or laptop when going this route.)
Better yet, purchase a sound machine with a variety of pre-recorded binaural beat track options, which can be found through a quick internet search.
Either way, when listening, just make sure you can hear the beats soundly from each ear… as that’s what triggers the brain to produce the delta waves.
- Get moving daily. Research shows getting some moderate-to-vigorous exercise not only helps you fall asleep faster at night… it helps you stay asleep longer, too.10 So, get your heart pumping and your body moving each and every day. (As an added bonus, you’ll probably shed a few pounds, too, which should help you sleep better.)
- Consider CBD oil. In my experience, cannabidiol (CBD) can work wonders for most types of problem-sleepers. As always, I like CBD oil because the dosing can be individualized.
To find the dose that’s best for you, I recommend starting with a small amount under your tongue. Then, work your way up until you find you can fall asleep easily… and STAY asleep for a full seven to nine hours. This method is known as titration. (Luckily, CBD is safe and non-addictive—meaning you can’t overdose on it.)
- Keep your bedroom very cool… and very dark. Research suggests the ideal temperature for sleep is much cooler than you might think… 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also make sure to block out all light with curtains, room-darkening shades, or a sleep mask. You may also need to cover electronic devices, such as alarm clocks or TV buttons.
Of course, I have even MORE drug-free strategies on how to get better quality and more regular sleep outlined in my Perfect Sleep Protocol. For more information, or to enroll today, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3Y901.
SIDEBAR: 11 subtle signs you don’t get enough sleep
If you live in a chronic state of sleep deprivation, you may always feel tired. And it may be hard to know what feels “normal.”
So, here are some subtle signs of sleep deprivation to look out for:
- Waking up with a headache or sore throat11
- Eyes looking puffy and red, with dark circles
- Skin is feeling dull or marked by new acne
- Gaining weight
- Craving junk food with sugar and carbs
- Needing more caffeine throughout the day to keep going
- Feeling more stressed, mentally exhausted or depressed
- Feeling groggy, like you can’t concentrate
- Having a low sex drive12
- Getting sick a lot
SIDEBAR: Should you get a sleep apnea test?
Obstructive sleep apnea is another common condition that can wreak havoc on ALL stages of your sleep cycle. In fact, it causes you to STOP breathing for 10 seconds or more… sometimes dozens of times a night!
Loud snoring and obvious lapses in breathing during sleep are hallmark signs. But here are some of the lesser-known indicators of this serious condition:
- High blood pressure13
- Visceral (belly) or neck fat
- Daytime sleepiness, even after supposedly getting a full night’s sleep
- Morning congestion or heartburn
- Waking up with a sore, dry throat (caused by mouth breathing)
- Waking up in the middle of the night with a gasping or choking feeling
- Morning headaches
- Bad dreams
Men over the age of 50 are at a heightened risk of this condition, too.
If you have any of these risk factors, I suggest asking your doctor for a polysomnogram (PSG) test. Nowadays, you can even take the test in the comfort of your own bed. And most insurance companies cover it, as the condition is such a strong risk factor for chronic disease.
- “Sleep cycle stages and their effect on the body.” Medical News Today, 11/29/20. (medicalnewstoday.com/articles/sleep-cycle-stages)
- “What Is the Purpose of Theta Brain Waves?” Healthline, 7/1/22. (healthline.com/health/theta-waves)
- “Sleep spindles.” Sleep Foundation, 4/25/22. (sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-spindles)
- “What Happens to Your Body During Deep Sleep?” WebMD, 5/7/22. (webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-body-effects)
- “Everything to Know About the Stages of Sleep.” Healthline, 8/30/21. (healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/stages-of-sleep)
- “What is REM Sleep and How Much Do You Need?” Sleep Foundation, 4/26/22. (sleepfoundation.org/stages-of-sleep/rem-sleep#:~:text=During%20REM%20sleep%2C%20your%20eyes,brain%20waves%20become%20more%20variable.)
- “Association of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep With Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Adults.” JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(10):1241–1251. doi.org/:10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.2108
- The 103,200-arm acceleration dataset in the U.K. Biobank revealed a landscape of human sleep phenotypes.” PNAS, 3/18/22; 119(12)e2116729119. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116729119
- “Can Binaural Beats Help You Fall Asleep.” Sleep Foundation, 6/24/22. (sleepfoundation.org/noise-and-sleep/binaural-beats#:~:text=Can%20Binaural%20Beats%20Help%20You%20Sleep%20Better%3F,beats%20lengthened%20stage%20three%20sleep.)
- “Exercise and sleep.” Sleep Foundation, 5/6/22. (sleepfoundation.org/physical-activity/exercise-and-sleep)
- “Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep.” WebMD, 5/29/20. (webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-signs-not-enough-sleep)
- “5 Hidden Signs You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep.” Dr. Oz Show, accessed 7/21/22. (drozshow.com/why-am-i-craving-sweets-5-hidden-signs-you-re-not-getting-enough-sleep-night)
- “Sleep Apnea Symptoms.” WebMD, 6/8/21. (webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/symptoms-of-sleep-apnea#:~:text=Occasionally%20waking%20up%20with%20a,several%20times%20during%20the%20night.)