A lot of people seem to think that sleep is a time when your body is inactive; that couldn’t be further from the truth! There’s actually a very complicated process that takes place in your body when you are hitting the hay, that allows you to wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Here’s what you may not know about your sleep!
The Four Stages of Sleep
Sleep scientists recognize 4 stages in sleep. Each stage takes about 90 minutes. This means you go through about five cycles in an average night of sleep. The time in each stage differs, depending on the cycle. For example, deep sleep happens earlier in the night while dream sleep happens later in the night.
This is the zone between being awake and being asleep. You can wake up very easily during this stage and if you do wake up you might feel like you didn’t sleep at all. During this stage, your eyes move back and forth as your muscles relax and twitch. This is the phenomenon you may experience as you jerk awake suddenly right after you’ve fallen asleep.
This is what is called “average sleep”. It’s kind of the Goldilocks of sleep stages because it’s not too deep and not too light, but just right. You spend about half your night in this sleep stage. When you move from stage one to stage two you lose your sense of surroundings, your body temperature drops and your brain waves slow down. Your heart rate and blood pressure also slow down so that your vascular system gets a bit of a break. That is why good quality sleep is so important to your health.
This is the deep sleep. Called slow wave sleep because of slow waves your brain produces in this stage, this is the restorative stage of sleep. Breathing slows down, blood flow moves to the muscles and tissues are repaired. Hormones are also secreted during this stage, like the human growth hormone. If you sleep walk, talk or eat then this is the stage where that takes place as well. This stage accounts for about 20% of sleep a night and normally happens in the first half of the night.
REM Sleep – the Final Stage
This is the stage where you have all those vivid dreams about showing up to work with no pants on. What’s interesting about this stage is that your body is asleep but your brain is acting like it does when you are awake. REM stands for rapid eye movement. Your eyes move quickly back and forth in this stage and breathing and heart rate become more variable. This stage of sleep happens for longer periods in the second half of the night and accounts for about 20% of your sleep.
If you have any questions about how to get a more restful night’s sleep, talk to you chiropractor!
This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.