Getting a good night”s rest is essential to maintaining your overall physical and mental health. In our busy society, there is a huge temptation to push the boundaries and skimp on sleeping in favor of work or recreational activities. While we may want to add more time to our day, staying up actually deprives the body of the necessary work of restoration that should take place at night.
The Two Main Stages of a Healthy Sleep Cycle
Normal sleeping patterns are divided into two main categories, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and NonRem (NREM).
NREM accounts for 75% or more of our pattern and is divided into four sub stages.
- Stage 1: drowsiness is experienced. Closed eyes move slowly. From this state, you are easily awakened.
- Stage 2: the body is in a light sleep, the muscles relax and eye movement stops. In this stage the heart rate and body temperature decreases.
- Stages 3 and 4: usually combined to describe a state of deep sleep called Delta or slow-wave sleep. It is especially important to reach this level as many of the body”s restorative processes take place in this time. Blood flow to the brain is decreased in stages 3 and 4 , allowing the brain to rest and restore, and is diverted to the other muscles. Many studies have shown an increase in immune functions in this vital stage.
REM Sleep accounts for 25% of sleep and is experienced several times within one night. The first period of REM usually occurs within 60 to 90 minutes of the cycle”s beginning and lasts for 10 or more minutes, with wow gold kaufen each period of REM lengthening in duration. While it is a deep sleep, REM sleep is also very active, according to WebMD sleep experts, showing brainwave patterns recorded during REM to be very much like those recorded while awake. Some of the characteristics of REM include:
- Intense Dreaming
- Brain excitement
- Muscle immobility
- Rapid eye movements
- Duration is highest in infants in children, with infants spending as much as 50% of the time in REM state sleep.
- Is experienced several times throughout a normal healthy sleep pattern.
Why is a Normal Sleep Pattern Important?
When the pattern is disrupted, the body”s internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, is thrown off, causing a chain effect of other problems. The symptoms can include lack of alertness, poor motor skills, inability to concentrate, and headaches, according to emedicine health experts. Lack or a poor quality of sleep can lead to impaired skills and judgment as well as gastrointestinal disorders. Short term bouts of missed or poor sleep causes the body to respond similarly as it would as if fighting an infection. Long term sleep deprivation is even more problematic and can cause changes in mood and extreme or erratic behavior.
Although there is still much to be known about sleep and long term studies continue, the importance of a regular, healthy sleep cycle is indisputable.