By: Elizabeth Clements
Sleep is Important
Have you woken up in the morning and felt like you had not slept at all? Chances are, you woke up in the wrong sleep stage. Sleep has two phases, rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement. Non-rapid eye movement has three stages, light sleep (N1), deeper sleep (N2), and deepest non-rapid eye movement sleep (Patel et al., 2022).
Each stage of sleep is important. Light sleep accounts for about 5% of the time rested. In this stage breathing tends to be at the regular rate and lasts between 1 to 5 minutes. Next the body cycles into deeper sleep, accounting for about 45% of the overall sleeping time. During this stage the brain is cleaning up from the day. The body works to save chemicals released that you did not use and discard those that cannot be saved. Memory is impacted during deep sleep as the brain organizes the day into what needs to be stored and what doesn’t. The last stage, deepest non-rapid eye movement, makes up around 25% of total sleep. In this stage it is difficult for a person to be woken up and studies have shown this is the stage when sleepwalking or night terrors happen. If you suddenly wake up in this stage, you will most likely feel like you are in a daze, foggy, or just can’t wake up. Deepest non-rapid eye movement stage assists in healing your body, tissues are repaired and regrown, muscles and bones are built, and the immune system is strengthened. Rapid eye movement stage is best associated with dreaming. During this stage the brain is highly active and breathing and heart rate are irregular. People may also move while re-enacting a current dream. Throughout your sleep, your body cycles through these stages between four to six times.
Some people experience disruptive sleep cycles where they frequently wake during their sleep hours. Awaking often impacts our ability to be alert, our mood, our health, and causes daytime sleepiness. Alcohol and substance use interferes with our sleep and does not allow the body to properly cycle through our sleep stages. If you find that you are not able to consistently sleep an appropriate amount of time for your body’s needs, you should contact a medical professional.
Sleep can be impacted by many things. Some of the issues that have a negative impact on sleep are depression, anxiety, traumatic brain injuries, stress, diet, and medications. Sometimes, when these issues are resolved, people find they return to a healthy pattern of sleep. If you or someone you know is suffering from poor sleep and would like to speak to a professional, please reach out to Samaritan Counseling, Michigan City Indiana (219.879.3283).