Sleep Science: What Happens to Your Body Each Night

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Sleep is very important for your body’s natural self-defense system. In fact, it is a natural immune system booster. You are probably aware that when your immune system has become weakened, you are increasingly vulnerable to colds and flu, and if it remains compromised for a long period, you are at greater risk of developing chronic disease.

 

What a Healthy Sleep Cycle Looks LikeThe healthy sleep cycle consists of five stages. Stages I-IV consist of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) or orthodox sleep. Their function is to restore energy to the body and mind after wakefulness.

 

Stage I usually lasts between five minutes or less. This stage marks the transition between wakefulness and sleep and often involves flashes of images remembered from during the daytime. The brain’s electrical activity slows down to beta waves.

 

Stage II is a deeper level of sleep; breathing and heart rate are slower. During this stage, EEG rates show beta waves punctuated with periods of fast alpha waves. 50% of each night’s sleep is in stage II.

 

Stages III and IV are the deepest levels of sleep and here we find the slowest brain waves. During stage III theta and delta waves are present, during stage IV only delta. Stage II begins after about thirty minutes.

 

In stage V the body and the brain become active, heart and metabolism increase and the eyes shift (REM). The EEG state in this stage is much the same as during waking moments, manifesting many fast beta rhythms.  REM sleep lasts between 10-25 minutes becoming progressively longer. About 25% of adult sleep is in REM, often a higher percentage in children. During REM sleep memory is consolidated problems are solved, data processing manifests as dreaming.

 

Getting the Sleep You Need

You should be getting at least eight hours sleep each night, but a surprisingly large percentage of the population is chronically sleep deprived. There are 83 different types of sleep disorders including insomnia and in our fast-paced world, more and more people suffer from them today than ever before. But what kinds of things can cause insomnia? The number one cause of insomnia for both adults and teens is stress. Worrying about work, family, money or your health can all lead to a build-up of stress which can, in turn, cause insomnia. Other causes include stomach ache, snoring and sleepwalking.

So what can you do when you are having trouble sleeping? If something is troubling you, talk to someone about it. If your mind is at rest then you’ll have no problem falling asleep at night. If you keep waking during the night and counting sheep really isn’t working for you then try this android alarm clock. It can help you sleep at night while you listen to your favorite tunes.

 

If you’re sleepy and sluggish it’s tough to look and feel your best so it’s important to maintain a healthy sleep routine and remember to get enough ZZZs.

 

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