September 08, 2020 2 min read

The health benefits of a good night of rest are profound. It helps us rejuvenate and recharge, ensuring that our minds and bodies are ready to conquer whatever comes our way! Sleep, however, is not just a single long process, but rather a series of several phases that we go through. What differentiates one stage from the next is the variation in brain activity, which can be observed using an electroencephalograph or EEG device. Currently, it is well accepted that all of us go through five stages of sleep. Sleep can be broadly classified into two stages - NREM Sleep and REM Sleep. 

Rapid Eye Movement (REM)

The fifth and final stage of sleep is referred to as REM or Rapid Eye Movement. In this phase, the brain is bursting with activity. Adults spend nearly 20% of their sleep in the REM cycle, whereas younger children and infants spend up to 50%. The first four stages of sleep act as a means of physical rejuvenation and healing, while the mind rests. REM sleep stage is when the body is immobile, while the mind activates and energizes itself. As the name suggests, this burst of activity in the brain results in the rapid movement of the eyes, while still closed.

Breathing in this stage is much more irregular, and both blood pressure and the heart rate get back to normal following the deep sleep stages. Dreams usually occur in REM sleep owing to the heightened brain activity, and your body is nearly paralyzed. The muscles move on their own, and the state of pseudo paralysis is a protective measure to prevent you from harming yourself during the dreams. REM sleep is critical in reinvigorating the brain and allowing it to remain sharp and attentive during the day. At the end of REM sleep, you will begin to wake up. The core body temperature will rise and get back to normal in preparation for the day ahead. 

Cycles

Sleep progresses through all these stages in cycles. It starts from stage 1 and goes all the way to stage 4, after which stage 3 and 2 repeat and then finally goes to REM. When REM sleep concludes we go back to stage 2, This entire cycle takes approximately 90 minutes and repeats anywhere from 4 to 6 times.

Conclusion

Most of us are aware of the importance of a good night's sleep. Each stage of the sleep cycle serves a function, and helps us recover for the day ahead. If you are someone struggling to sleep, following an exercise routine and eating healthy can make a world of difference. Ensure that the room you sleep in is completely dark, with no artificial sources of light. Investing in a high-quality mattress can significantly improve your sleep quality, allowing for a satisfying and relaxed night of rest.

Armed with this knowledge and simple tips, you can ensure that you get the best sleep to stay healthy and happy!