Sleeping well makes us feel better, more alert, energetic, and better able to concentrate and perform our daily tasks. Getting enough sleep each day is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being. When you sleep, your body:
- repairs muscles
- grows bones
- manages hormones
- sorts memories
When you get the necessary amount of sleep, you are helping to boost your immune system, keep off extra pounds, improve your mood and improve your productivity.
Sleep is divided into different periods of light and deep sleep throughout the night. These occur in cycles of about 90 minutes. Each cycle includes periods of non-REM sleep, ranging from light to deep sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when our brains are more active and dreams occur.
Stage one, or the phase between being awake and asleep, is considered light sleep. Deeper sleep begins in stage two, as your breathing and heart rate become slower and your body temperature drops.
Stage three is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep (it’s also called “slow-wave sleep”), in which breathing continues to slow, blood pressure drops, muscles relax, and tissue growth and repair occurs.
Stage four is REM sleep. It is sometimes referred to as “active sleep.” As the name implies, this stage is marked by rapid eye movement. During this stage, the brain is very active, but the body is generally immobilized. This is the stage in which dreaming occurs. Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to NREM stage two before beginning the cycle all over again.
For optimum health, be sure to prioritize good sleep. It’s just as important as exercise and nutrition for your well-being.