The first dimension of sleep is the obvious length of it. For some reason we often forget the second dimension which is the depth or the quality of our sleep.
This explains why someone can sleep for a long time and still be tired, having insufficient sleep in term of depth and quality.
On the other hand, someone can have a very restorative short sleep if this one is sufficient in depth and quality. We need to consider sleep in term of surface area (2 dimensions), not in term of length (1 dimension).
The quality of sleep is a very important criteria and yet little known by most of us and therefore neglected. It is linked to the internal organization of our sleep. It is simply the harmonious flow of our different sleep cycles (usually 4 to 6 per night) and each of the phases (5) within each cycle, that makes the quality of our sleep.
In order to have quality sleep, these cycles and phases must take place at a certain determined order,duration, cadence and proportion. If only one of these factors is missing, we will have bad sleep, even if it is sufficient in quantity.
A lot of insomniac people seek in vain to increase the duration of their sleep without realising that deepening it (which is generally easier) would actually solve their problem.
Insomnia is mainly the consequence of a failure to respect our inner clock and its very complex mechanic. Disturbed rhythms lead to insomnia and in the long run have a physical and psychological impact on the individual.
Watch out for sleeping pills (especially barbiturates). They are not at all the solution contrary to a wrong common belief where one imagines to have slept more deeply and therefore wake up drowsy. In fact, these pills disturb and shorten phase 4 of very deep sleep with its famous Delta brain waves and phase 5 of the REM and paradoxical sleep (where dreams occur).
It is indeed possible, with sleeping pills, to have a generous sleep in terms of quantity, but it is a sleep of very poor quality much less regenerative on the physical and psychological level.
Under chronic stress the HPA axis is slowly but constantly engaged which is why it leads to the unfortunately famous “Adrenal Fatigue”.
When the adrenal glands are overstimulated for a long period of time, they begin to weaken which result in symptoms like a weakened immune system, low energy levels, chronic fatigue, inability to handle any kind of stress, lost of the ability to balance the levels of minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium in the blood leading to cravings for foods which will replace the sodium that we have lost…
Adrenal Fatigue is more complicated than simply ‘tired Adrenal glands’. It is a group of diverse symptoms that present due to the under-functioning and depletion of key neurotransmitters and hormones produced by the adrenal glands, HPA axis, but also the thyroid gland, and often the reproductive glands.