Sleep is important for your health and is equally vital as eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet and getting enough exercise. Though individual sleep requirements differ, most adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Despite this, up to 35% of adults in the United States are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can jeopardize your health and safety, so it's critical to prioritize and safeguard your sleep regularly using healthy sleep habits. Here are the stages of sleep, some benefits of sleep, and what happens if you do not stay asleep and sleep well.
Stages of Sleep
There are four stages of sleep: one for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and three for non-REM (NREM). These stages are based on an examination of brain activity while sleeping, which reveals different patterns that distinguish each stage.
1. Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep patterns.
NREM sleep is broken down into three stages. The greater a person's NREM sleep stage, the more difficult it is to wake them up.
- Stage 1: occurs shortly after you fall asleep and lasts only a few minutes (usually less than 10 minutes). It entails a light sleep from which you can quickly be awakened.
- Stage 2: lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. Your muscles become more relaxed at this point, and you may notice slow-wave (delta) brain activity.
- Stage 3: is a deep sleep stage that lasts 20 to 40 minutes. Delta brain activity intensifies at this stage, and you may be able to move your body. It is extremely difficult to be awakened at this stage.
2. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
When you enter REM sleep, your brain activity spikes again, indicating that your sleep isn't as profound. The levels of activity are similar to when you're awake. As a result, REM sleep is when you'll get the most vivid dreams. Major muscles that you regularly control (such as your arms and legs) are unable to move at the same time. As a result, they become paralyzed temporarily.
REM sleep usually occurs approximately an hour and a half after you fall asleep. The initial 10 minutes of REM sleep lasts roughly 10 minutes. Each subsequent REM stage lasts longer and longer. During the night, this sleep cycle will be repeated three to four times.
Also, the amount of REM sleep changes as you grow: REM sleep is highest in children, declines in young adults/ teenagers and declines the more you age.
In REM sleep, what else happens to the body?
During REM sleep, your body undergoes a range of changes in addition to heightened brain activity and muscular relaxation. Among the changes are:
- Slightly increased breathing rate.
- Slightly rising heart rate and blood pressure
- Quickened eye movement
Benefits of Improving Your Sleep
Sleep deprivation can make you irritable during the day and cause health problems. Also, missing on your sleep schedule and amount of sleep can hamper your waking hours, reducing the effectiveness of your internal clock. Getting healthy quality sleep regularly is key in helping your body in several ways. Below are some of the benefits you will get after having a good sleep.
- Mood booster
Quality sleep will boost your moods. When you sleep, your brain is busy processing emotions. You need to sleep so that you can give your brain some quality time to process your emotions. When you have less sleep, you may encounter negative emotions. As a result, you may experience reduced productivity at work. A good night's sleep can help you recover from a poor day, enhance your mood, and help you to be more prepared to face problems.
- Improve Productivity and Concentration
A good night's sleep can improve problem-solving abilities and memory. Poor sleep, on the other hand, has been demonstrated to decrease cognitive function and decision-making abilities.
- Improves athletic performance
Quality sleep will help you to excel in athletics. Sports like swimming, running and cycling, need endurance. In case you lack sleep, then you may experience decreased athletic performance.
Lack of sleep saps your motivation, which is what propels you to the finish line, in addition to reducing your energy levels and time for muscle regeneration. You'll need to deal with a more difficult mental and physical task, as well as slower reaction times. Resting properly prepares you to perform at your best.
- Weight control
Studies reveal that sleeping for a few hours (less than 7hours per night) increases your risk of gaining weight and having a higher body mass index(BMI). A study published in 2020 indicated that persons who slept less than 7 hours per night had a 41% higher risk of becoming obese. Meanwhile, sleeping for extended periods did not raise the risk.
Many factors, including hormones and motivation to exercise, are thought to influence the effect of sleep on weight gain. Sleep deprivation, for example, raises ghrelin levels while lowering leptin levels. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, but leptin makes us feel satisfied. This may make us feel hungrier and lead to overeating.
- Regulates blood sugar
Sleep aids in the regulation of your metabolism. That is how your body turns food into energy. Sleep deprivation can lead to a variety of metabolic issues, including blood sugar fluctuations. If you have diabetes, this can be an issue. It also increases your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Extremes of your blood sugar can also affect your moods, energy levels and proper functioning of your brain.
Good Healthy Sleep vs Bad Sleep
Your body is hard at work when you sleep. It balances hormones, repairs itself, and ensures that the circulatory and immunological systems are in good working order. Memories are formed and stored in your brain. You can be more energetic and aware if you get enough sleep. It enables you to lose weight, exercise, work, learn, socialize, and do whatever else you want to do.
On the other hand, if you do not get quality sleep, you increase your risk of getting high pressure, heart attack, heart failure/stroke, diabetes. Other problems that follow sleep deprivation are depression, lower libido, obesity and impairment in immunity.