No matter the age, everyone needs sleep to maintain their mental, emotional, and physical health. A good night’s sleep allows the body to recharge, refuel, and become refreshed. If you are not getting good sleep, you might ask, “How long does a mattress last?” If you’ve had yours for a while, it might be time to go mattress shopping.
Good sleep helps the human body to rest and stay healthy. There are a lot of things which can make you happy. When you are happy, you are more relaxed from head to toe. Sleep is one of those things.
It’s a Chemical Thing
Each person has an internal timekeeping system known informally as the “circadian clock.” It is located in the front of the brain. The circadian clock automatically resets itself every 24 hours. This process affects our mood, appetite and digestion, body temperature, and a majority of other bodily functions.
In addition to the body’s circadian rhythm, sleep is further regulated by what is known as “sleep-wake homeostasis” or commonly called our “sleep drive.” This process gives us a feeling of being tired and feeling awake.
How can we get a good night’s sleep? Here are some tips:
- Try to keep to a daily sleep schedule
- Exercise lightly for 20 to 30 minutes before going to bed
- Don’t ingest caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol before bed
- Relax before retiring to bed
- Design your bedroom before bedtime by lessening bright lights and loud noises
Between our circadian rhythm and our sleep drive, we experience a sleep cycle that consists of four stages. The first three states are known as non-rapid eye movement or NREM sleep and the last stage that we hear so much about is called the rapid eye movement sleep or REM.
Let’s become familiar with the four stages and what is taking place within our body’s:
This is a light sleep stage between being drowsy and sleepy. Our heartbeat slows down, our breathing relaxes and lessens, our brain waves are also relaxed. Then our eyes start to relax even though we feel ourselves falling asleep and we are not quite ready, we jerk awake. If we are lying down, this stage only lasts for a few minutes (5 to 10 minutes). In this stage, we tell people that we were not asleep when they bring it to our attention.
This stage is also a light semi-sleep process. Our heart, breathing rate, eye movements, and brain activity are dropping even further. The temperature of our body lessens. This stage is the longest of the four sleep stages. The American Sleep Association believes that people spend about 50% of their total sleep in this stage.
Stage 3 – Stage 4
When lying down, this stage is considered to be part of our deep sleep process. Our muscles simply relax as do other organs in our bodies. Stage 3 is also a long stage which is when we first fall asleep, but it shortens throughout the night. Sleep experts identify stage 3 as leading immediately into stage 4 which matches slow-wave rates from stage 3. Within both of these stages, people can experience sleepwalking and other bodily functions they are unaware of.
REM is the final stage of the body’s sleep cycle. This takes place about an hour plus after you nod off unawares. REM is the rapid eye movement process that is moving erratically under our eyelids. The brain suddenly ends its rest and starts becoming active again. Our breathing increases, as does our heart and blood pressure. Sleep experts believe that these processes occur because we dream, whether we remember our dreams or not.
Somnologist of the American Sleep Association believes that each sleep stage lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. Depending on a person’s age depicts how long each stage lasts. Senior citizens sleep less during REM because of their older age.
The sleep association also notes that falling asleep or just getting sleepy does not sequentially follow each other. A common difference can take place, whereby stage 1 can combine with stages 2 and 3 or we can repeat stage 2 right before entering REM.
Sleep is a complex daily routine. The brain is the most important factor in getting a good night’s sleep. When we sleep, we give our brain a chance to rest and recharge. The brain helps cells and organs release toxins that we have built up when we are awake and going through life.
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