Importance of Sleep

Getting the right kind of sleep at the correct times benefits physical health, mental well-being and quality of life. While asleep, the body works on supporting proper brain functions and physical fitness. In teens and children, it also aids development and growth.

The effects of insomnia can manifest instantly or become evident after time. For example, a deprived driver might fall asleep at the wheel. Long-term effects include a higher risk for some chronic health conditions. Lack of proper rest also affects the ability to think, learn, work, react, and socialize.

Sleep Benefits Overall Health

During sleeping hours, the brain prepares for the following day by establishing new pathways, so it can remember information and process new data. Proper rest helps people learn and enhances decision-making capabilities. It also helps them pay attention and enhances their creativity.

Studies show that insufficient rest alters brain activity in some areas. People affected might have trouble solving problems, handling changes, controlling behavior and emotions, and making decisions.

Teens and children who don’t get enough proper rest might suffer from mood swings. They might lack motivation and feel sad, depressed or angry. This can make it difficult to get along with others and to maintain good grades in school.

Five Stages of Sleep

Sleep patterns are composed of five recurrently shifting stages. These are characterized by assorted brain waves that mirror deeper or lighter slumber. Healthy people cycle through them four or five times each night but spend much of time in the last phases.

The first stage is called the introduction. Muscles start to relax and brain activity begins to slow down. This phase might happen even when an individual isn’t trying to snooze, such as when listening to a boring speech. You can easily wake up from this phase, and the resulting jump is called a myoclonic jerk.

Dreamless, light slumber ushers in the second phase known as the official beginning of sleep. The body relaxes, prepares for upcoming dreams, and snoring might begin. While the brain and muscle activity continue to slow down, the individual can become alert quickly after an interruption and even hold a coherent conversation.

Phases three and four are collectively known as slow wave sleep. It should not take less than 10 and no more than 45 minutes to get to this stage. That’s when the body rests and builds up mental and physical energy.

During this period, the muscle and brain activity levels decline considerably. Patients with breathing disorders might experience distress during this cycle because of how much the throat muscles relax. Interruptions, such as the phone ringing, no cause disorientation and grogginess, even in healthy individuals.

Rapid Eye Movement Stage (REM)

Dreams take place during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Dreaming is necessary to create long-term memories, and it enhances brain function. During REM, the brain is the most active while muscles are completely paralyzed. In healthy people, the lungs and heart function as normal.

While everyone’s needs vary, healthy adults function best with 16 hours of wakefulness and eight hours of rest. Some people feel refreshed after six hours and can go about their daily routine without any lingering drowsiness or sleepiness.