Stages of the Sleep Wake Cycle

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The nature of sleep remains complicated, and mostly unexplainable. Sleep is necessary for all mammals. Sleep serves the body as energy conservation processes as well as letting the nervous system recuperate. This bodily recuperation process also allows emotional regulation for the body. The circadian rhythm, also known as the biological clock or circadian clock, regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The circadian clock is located in a group of cells just behind the optic nerve, called the Suprachiasmatic nucleus. Because the Suprachiasmatic nucleus is located behind the optic nerve, it is extremely sensitive and highly responsive to changes of light externally.

The first stage is described as the lightest stage of sleep, when the body is slowly loosing responsiveness, but if wakened, does not recall sleeping. The second stage is defines the beginning of “real sleep.” During this stage the body’s muscle tension, heart rate, respiration and body temperature gradually decreases as the mind becomes more difficult in awakening (Plotnik, Kouyoumdjian, 152.) The third and forth stage is defined as the rapid eye movement stage, REM sleep. REM sleep is also the stage when the mind dreams. REM sleep helps us remember information and encode the information into our memory better. Typically we spend twenty percent of sleep dreaming. The brain enters this state approximately five or six times a sleep cycle, balancing fifteen to forty five minute intervals of REM sleep, with thirty to ninety minute Non-REM sleep intervals. Those who are deprived of REM sleep do not show signs of major behavioral or physiological effects though. The theory was presented by Freud, which suggests that dreams are disguised symbols of repressed desires and anxieties (Huffman, 149). What I find interesting about this theory is how it believes that dreams have a direct relationship with people’s wishes. Unfortunately, most people focus on the “content” of dreams than the “form” of dreaming. This would...
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