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Phases of sleep

22 What happens during sleep

We all know that sleep is crucial for our health and one night of poor sleep will impact our day, when this lack of sleep is constant the negative effects increase but what happens while we sleep?  There are so many things going on in our brain and body that help us recover from the day and get ready for what´s to come.

Nowadays people in different industries like fitness and health are giving more importance to sleep because there are so many things going on and a lack of sleep or poor quality can be the cause of health problems and there´s still people who don´t give the importance it deserves and claim that some of the most amazing minds that have lived didn´t get what´s consider enough sleep in the 7 to 8 hours which is completely true but the research on how those amazing minds manage to keep going with little to no sleep is not conclusive. For now we´ll talk about the phases or stages of sleep because it´s important that we understand at least the basics of it.

Reading books and research, some divide the phases or stages of sleep in 4 others in 5 the way I see it and to keep it simple is considering 4 phases:

1.- Phase one.- When we fall asleep our brain produces alpha and theta waves, this phase last just a couple minutes and it´s when we can be easily woken. If any night we fall asleep and after a couple of minutes we woke up with any noise we were in this phase. This phase of light sleep gives way to phase two.

2.- Phase two.- During this phase the brain waves decrease in frequency and increase in amplitude, our body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate slows down.

3.- On phases three.- This phase of moderate sleep giving way to deep sleep is where it is harder to be awakened. At this stage we are not aware of noises and activity around us and our muscle start to relax and blood pressure start to lower.

4.- On phase four.- This phase is the deepest level of sleep and  is where delta waves or slow waves takes place. At this stage our muscles are relaxed and blood pressure and breathing rate lowers.

This four phases are called non-rapid eye movement, after this four phases are completed we get to a rapid eye movement which is the fifth phase or REM, while we sleep we go through cycles between non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement.

The first 4 phases which are part of the non-rapid eye movement are compromised of slow waves while the fifth phase or REM which is the rapid eye movement our heart rate increases, our breathing gets faster, there are rapid waves of beta, alpha and theta and our eyes can be seen moving beneath our lids. Some people have found through research that in this phase our dreams are more vivid compared to the other phases.

In this last phase is also when we can retain information, skills, improve memory and learning.

One complete sleep cycle going through all phases last around 90 minutes, each night we go through several cycles, we may go through 4 or 5 cycles per night depending on how many hours of sleep we get.

If we have sleep disorders it may be harder for us to fall asleep so we´ll get less sleep and will go through less cycles, if we wake up in the night and interrupt the cycle our body needs to start again from phase 1, the more we get awaken during the night chances are that we may never get to the phase of deep sleep which affects our entire sleep quality and we´ll get all the negative impacts of one night of poor sleep the next day.

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Pam