A good night’s sleep is necessary for optimum productivity and alertness, but many people shirk sleep for other engaging evening activities.
Many people assume that getting five or six hours of sleep is sufficient and that the quality of sleep does not ultimately matter. But these folks unfortunately do not understand the importance of sleep or the structure of sleep cycles and how they combine to form a restful night’s sleep.
A sleep cycle contains five stages, four of which involve non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and one which involves rapid eye movement (REM).
Audio clip for healthy sleep:
Stage 1 sleep is the short cycle the body makes between consciousness and sleep. This stage only lasts for 5-10 minutes and leads into Stage 2, or light sleep.
The brain produces sleep spindles at this 20 minute stage as it tries to keep the sleeper tranquil. The body’s temperature lowers and the heart’s rate slows as the body enters the transitional Stage 3. Deep and slow delta brain waves begin to form, leading the body into Stage 4 deep sleep. Stage 4 lasts for 30 minutes and is the stage at which bed-wetting and sleep-walking may occur. The brain repeats Stages 3 and 2 before entering into REM sleep during which dreams and muscle paralysis occur. Eye movement as well as increased breathing and brain activity occur during this phase.
The body cycles several times through all 5 stages, so people need to set aside a full 8 hours to get enough good sleep.
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Remembering your dreams:
Sleep infographic courtesy of Advanced Pain Care, Austin pain doctors helping you sleep better to avoid neck and back pain.