Tag Archive for Sleep Cycle

What Happens While We Sleep

Although I’ve already written a brief post on the sleep cycle there was a lot more that could be said on the subject. I believe it is helpful to understand how we sleep, as all other information about how to improve sleep must be based on it.

 

There are two major types of sleep: Non-REM, or quiet sleep; and REM, or dreaming sleep. REM, you may recall, stands for ‘rapid eye movement’ and refers to the rapid movements the eyes make while in that stage of sleep.

These two types, or categories, of sleep are radically different from one another. It is a common misconception that when we are asleep our minds and bodies are simply ‘turned off’, and when we are awake they are ‘turned on’. In reality sleep is not so passive as you may think. Our bodies, and especially our minds are busy during sleep, and they are busy doing things that they only do while asleep – things that are necessary for health and growth.

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The Stages of Sleep

As we sleep our minds and bodies pass through several different stages. In fact there are five different stages of sleep, cleverly named stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and REM (Rapid Eye Movement).

Sleep begins as the mind enters into stage 1, which is a very light sleep from which a person can be easily startled and awakened. The heart rate slows, movements slow, and the body temperature drops. You may have noticed on warm evenings that, when the temperature is uncomfortably warm, your body begins to cool even before you actually enter into sleep mode.

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