Deep Sleep – How Much Do You Really Need for Optimal Health?
For decades now, health experts have been advocating the importance of REM, or deep sleep. This is the last phase of sleep that humans experience.
So much emphasis has been put upon this cycle that the other cycles have actually been left out of the equation by some. What a lot of people don’t realize is that all the phases of a sleep are equally important.
We need to find a happy balance between all four stages for optimal sleep. Doing so will help us to live a happy, healthy, energetic life.
Why Is Our Sleep Broken Up into Phases and Cycles?
The body has multiple natural cycles. Everything from your skin to your hormones to your sleep is regulated by these cycles. These cycles help the body repair and rejuvenate itself.
Just imagine how people would look if their skin never replenished itself. Their skin would be thick, dull, and full of blemishes. The rejuvenation cycle allows the skin to slough off the old and reveal new softer, healthier skin.
Similarly, the body goes through sleep cycles each night. Each phase allows certain parts of the body the opportunity to repair and replenish itself. This cycle is called the body’s circadian rhythm.
Within a cycle, there are four sleep cycle stages. These include three Non-REM sleep stages and, of course, REM sleep. Non-REM stages are when a person’s brain waves steadily become synchronized and slow. During these stages, the eyes are still.
Stage three of Non-REM sleep is referred to as slow wave or deep sleep. This is when the brainwaves are large, low-frequency waves.
During REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep, the brain is very active. This is typically when people dream. However, the body is in a temporarily paralyzed in this deep sleep state. Scientists believe this is to prevent people from acting out what’s going on in their dreams.
REM and stage three of Non-REM sleep both fall under the category of deep sleep. Stage one and two of Non-REM sleep are lighter sleep periods, when people are easily woken.
Though much importance has been placed on REM sleep, all stages of the sleep cycle are vital. In fact, REM sleep usually only lasts around 8 minutes during each cycle, while stage one and two make up approximately 50% of each sleep cycle.
Too Much REM Sleep: Why Deep Sleep Is Only Part of the Equation
People who experience disturbances in one or more stages of a sleep cycle can start to experience health problems. For instance, people who end up getting too much REM sleep often develop depression.
In fact, many of the antidepressant medications on the market suppress the REM stage in an effort to balance it out.
Some other issues that result in sleep debt and health issues include:
• Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome – This is a condition in which a person loses a few hours of sleep. They can’t seem to fall asleep during the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Typically, most people find they get the best sleep between 10 PM and 6 AM. Ayurvedic practitioners even recommend sleeping during these hours because that is when the body naturally starts to detoxify and repair.
But people with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome can’t fall asleep that early. In fact, many of them consider midnight to be early. People with this syndrome identify as night owls. While they think they function better when they stay up late, this can actually cause some damage. They can become depressed and experience chronic drowsiness.
• Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder – This disorder encompasses many other sleep cycle disorders, including Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.
Basically, this is a disorder in which the body’s internal clock isn’t functioning like it should. The cause for this could be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic would be the inability to fall asleep, while extrinsic would be not having the opportunity to go to sleep at an ideal time.
An example of an extrinsic factor would be working the night shift. In many cases, people with these disorders can be helped by certain sleep solutions.
Various sleep associations, including the American Sleep Association, recommend medications to help balance the sleep cycle.
If you experience difficulty falling or staying asleep, there are other sleep solutions you can try, too. Talk to your doctor about medications, as well as other tools, like a sleep cycle alarm or the utilization of essential oils.
Find the Right Balance Between the Phases for the Best Night’s Sleep
Humans are curious creatures who like to dissect every little thing. Because of this, scientists have been able to identify nearly every single component in the human body. They’ve also been able to find out which vitamins and minerals are in certain foods. And they’ve even dissected sleep, dividing it up into cycles.
While the efforts of researchers are well-founded and has provided a lot of information about how to stay healthy, it’s also caused a lot of confusion.
One reason for this is because people tend to look at one part of the puzzle and try to fix that instead of looking at the whole puzzle.
The body is one complete unit. It is made to function as a whole, with each organ, system, and cycle working together to keep us alive and moving. When people focus on one organ, system, or cycle they can miss out on a lot of important information. And the result is that people don’t get the results they’re looking for or end up in worse shape than they were before.
The human sleep cycle is like the body, a complete unit. There are different stages to each cycle, and each phase is just as important as the next. Trying to focus on one phase alone can actually do more harm than good.
Like everything in life, the sleep cycle is something that needs to be balanced. When you find that balance and sleep through each and every phase of sleep, then you’ll feel full of energy and ready to take on your day.
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