With all the demands that you face in everyday life, cutting back on your sleep seems like the first and most logical thing to cut back on. What most of us don’t realize is cutting back on just a couple hours of sleep can impact our life in negative ways. When you sleep it gives your body time to restore its self and to prepare for the next day. According to the National Institutes of Health as adults we need seven and a half to nine hours of sleep. It is not just about getting enough hours of sleep that is important though. It is the quality of those hours of sleep. By understanding how the sleep cycles work and the elements that can lead to those cycles being interrupted you will be able to start getting both the quantity and the quality of sleep you need. The sleeping process is a lot more complicated then one might think. Your body goes through a series of recurring sleep stages that are very different from one another in terms of what’s happening underneath the surface. About every ninety minutes, you pass through a cycle of five separate stages. Stage one of sleep, or better known as the transition or light sleep. In this sleep stage you experience drifting in and out of sleep and you can be easily roused. During stage one, your eye movements and body temperature will slow down. You may also experience sudden erratic movements in you legs or arms. The motor areas of the brain being suddenly stimulated cause these jerky movements. When you have these jerky movements they can give you the sensation of falling. I get these a lot when I am trying to fight going to sleep. Stage two of the sleep cycle you begin to relax more deeply. You can still be woken up easily, but you are now officially asleep. Most people spend around twenty minutes in this stage. During stage two, eye movement stops and your brain waves become slower. In this stage there are also brief bursts of rapid brain activity, which is know as sleep spindles. Stage three of the sleep cycle is the first stage of deep sleep. The brain waves are a blend of slow waves known as delta waves. During this stage it can be very difficult to wake someone up, and if you are woken up during this stage, you may feel disoriented and groggy for a few minutes. Stage four of the sleep cycle is the second stage of deep sleep. Like stage three, the brain is creating slow delta waves. In this stage it is very difficult to wake someone up. The deep sleep stages are very important for feeling reinvigorated in the morning. If stage three and four are cut short, you will not have a good night sleep. The next but certainly not least stage is the REM sleep or better known as rapid eye movement. This sleep stage is when dreams occur. During this stage the waves in your brain become rapid and saw like. While in REM sleep your heart rate rises, breathing becomes fast and irregular and your eyes dart around underneath your eyelids. During REM your brainstem blocks its messages, leaving muscles relaxed and you are basically paralyzed. So you see there is a lot more to sleep. Sleep is a very important aspect of our lives. Without sleep we would eventually perish. That is not something people normally want to do everyday. That is not to say that you will die every time you don’t sleep. Without the right amount of sleep you will not be able to be functional for the following day. When we sleep it allows our brain to be active in things like muscle repair, memory strengthening, and the release of hormones that regulates your appetite and growth. It is also proven that a good quality night’s sleep boosts your immune system. Sleep is not just relaxing but also very important.
Just like I said before it is not just getting those seven to nine hours of sleep, that sleep also has to be a good quality sleep. If you wake up half way through the night and toss and turn all night you are not getting a good quality sleep. Different ways that I tried when I was seeing that I wasn’t getting a...
References: Myers, D. G. (2011). Consciousness and the Two-Track Mind. Exploring Psychology: eighth edition in modules (8th ed., pp. 70-83). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Smith, M., Robinson, L., Saisan, J., & Segal, R. (2012, July 1). How To Sleep Better. How To Sleep Better. Retrieved September 21, 2012, from http:/http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_tips.htm
Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, R. (2012, September 1). How Much Sleep Do You Need? Sleep Cycles, Stages, & Lack of Sleep. Helpguide helps you help yourself to better mental and emotional health. Retrieved September 21, 2012, from http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm
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