Sleep Cycles - Important Facts You Should Know About

Benjamin Franklin once said "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

That's only one of the quotes about sleep that stress its importance. We'll run into many sleep quotes in our life to tell us that this process is not just a luxury but a basic need. Even though some quotes can be funny, all of them tell us the same thing-- a good night's rest contributes to good health and well-being.

Numerous things rely on sleep--your efficiency, mental sharpness, emotional balance, energy and also your weight. Being aware of what happens while you sleep may help you avoid staying up late and being prone to various illnesses brought on by sleep deprivation.

Learning the stages of Sleep Cycles

When you sleep, your brain doesn't just shut down. It actually remains active, undergoing a biological maintenance that will help you prepare for the coming day. As you sleep, your brain undergoes a sleep cycle involving various stages.

Listed below are the phases of the sleep cycle:

-Stage 1- This stage is also known as 'Dozing stage'. Here, you are mostly asleep but nevertheless easily woken. You're in this restful state and you feel all your senses slowing down. Your muscles, eye movement and breathing rate slow down. You eventually drift into a semiconscious state. As your sleep deepens, your brain waves slow down as well - even slower than while relaxing. This stage does not last very long, and it's where you feel the sensation of falling or jerking into wakefulness.

-Stage 2- This stage has deeper sleep in comparison to stage 1. It's typically at this stage where you're thought to be asleep and unconscious. Finally, your eyes stop moving. There will be periodic bursts of brain activity known as sleep spindles and instances where larger waves of amplitude called K complexes start activating. The dominating brain waves, called Theta waves, are found in the stage 2 sleep. Like the first stage, this stage doesn't last very long.

-Stage 3- In this stage, your brain will settle into a slow pattern. High amplitude called Delta waves start activating. Your sleep begins to deepen. In stage 3, half of the brain waves are Delta waves. You will have spikes of high activity in between the calmer intervals.

-Stage 4- this stage is known as 'very deep sleep stage'. Delta wave brain activity also rules this stage. There are periodic bursts of high activity. It's in the course of this stage that a majority of incidents of sleepwalking, nightmares and bed-wetting occur. It continues until the early part of the night and steadily decreases as the night progresses.

-REM- The body will reverse the cycle and will get back to the 1st stage sleep before entering the REM sleep. There will be a lot of changes in the body in this stage. Your breathing quickens and becomes irregular and your eyes start to move with a jerky motion. Your heart rate will become elevated also and your brain waves would be active, just like when you are awake. Your body will produce a chemical that can paralyze your muscles when dreaming so that you won't end up harming yourself. Should you suddenly awaken during REM sleep, you're probably going to recall your dream in detail. Infants spend 50% of their sleeping time in REM sleep while adults spend 20% of theirs.

Although children and adults have the same sleep cycles, you need to take note that kids need more sleep to be able to function and grow properly.
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