You might think that you are out like a light when you shut your eyes and fall asleep, however your body is actually going through an incredible process. There are 4 different stages of sleep that people will commonly experience on a cyclical basis every single night. Each of these stages has its own purpose in helping our bodies relax, regenerate, fix and prepare function for the next day.
So what are the different stages of sleep?
- Light Sleep
- Deep Sleep
- REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement)
During light sleep you can be woken up easily, you might find yourself drifting in and out of sleep as your senses are still pretty alert at this point. If you have ever had that jumping or falling sensation whilst you are falling asleep this can be contributed to this stage of the sleep cycle. During this stage your body is beginning to unwind and prepare you for a deeper level of sleep. Your heart rate will begin to decrease during this stage. Scientists argue that this stage of sleep is important for your bodies mental and physical recovery.
Your body undergoes a lot of changes as you enter deep sleep. Your temperature will begin to decrease, your heart rate will continue to slow, your blood pressure will decrease and your metabolic functions will also slow down. During this period, it is much harder for you to be woken up and you are less likely to respond to any stimuli. The deep periods of sleep normally appear towards the beginning of the night and lessen as the night goes on.
Deep sleep is very important for your body for a variety of reasons, it helps to strengthen your immune system, encourage recovery and improve your memory and leaning. It is thought that most adults need approximately two hours of deep sleep every night. If you wake up the next day feeling very refreshed, then it is likely that you have had a lot of deep sleep during the night.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
As the name indicates this stage of sleep is characterized by your eyes moving rapidly in different directions and is the stage in which we will experience dreams. When in REM our bodies will begin to breathe quicker and our heart rate will increase and both of these might be characterized in an irregular rhythm. Your brain shows a lot of activity during this stage of sleep yet your muscles appear to become paralysed.
This part of sleep is argued to be important for helping your brain process information and regulate your mood.
There are some interesting pieces of equipment on the market that can help you track your sleep, give it a google if you are interested.
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