The Sleep Cycle

By | October 23, 2016

It is essential for one to understand the various stages of sleep in order to sleep better. Our sleeping pattern works in harmony with our internal body clock that is affected by light, time of the day and other signals for sleeping and waking up.

While asleep you go through various stages of alertness moving to and from deeper and deeper sleep to more attentive and alert stages. This all has to do with your brain.

Two main types of sleep exists i.e. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non REM sleep. REM sleep is characterized by rapid movement of eye balls to and fro hence giving it the name REM. In addition to this one may experience fast, irregular and shallow breathing. Limb muscles may become stiff for short while and the rate at which heart beats may increase causing rising levels of blood pressure. During this period the body may find it difficult to keep its temperature under control. Another feature of REM sleep is active dreaming, a person awoken during this period may be able to tell you the dream he/ she was seeing.

Non REM sleep is comprised of four periods of deep sleep that vary in their level of alertness a person is in. Stage 1 is characterized by light sleep when the muscle activity slows and eyes move slowly. It’s easy for a person to be awakened during this stage. In Stage 2 eyes stop moving and the brain activity slows down with only infrequent surge of brain waves. In Stage 3 brain activity becomes extremely slow. Brain waves generated during this period are called delta waves are mixed together with faster waves. Entering Stage 4 is when most of the brain waves are comprised of delta waves.

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Stage 3 and 4 are known as Deep Sleep in which there is no eye movement or muscle activity. It is very hard to wake a person up from deep sleep.

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