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Sleep Physiology

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SLEEP PHYISIOLOGY

 

 
 
What happens during sleep?

When we sleep our body initiates a vital process of cell repair and regeneration.

Some of these processes are:

  1. Repair of cells damaged during the day
  2. Stimulation of the immune system
  3. Recovery from the day's activities
  4. Recharging of the heart and cardiovascular system for the following day

The importance of sleeping properly is indisputable and we all know that sensation of feeling revitalised after a good night's sleep and the feeling of tiredness after sleeping badly. However, despite knowing this, in the society in which we live we often simply don't sleep enough hours for our body to carry out all the functions it needs.
 
 
 
 
 
 

UNDERSTANDING THE SLEEP CYCLE

 

 
 
An indispensable element for our sleep to be healthy is the correct development of all its phases and cycles.
Sleep is composed of four phases, the first three are NREM sleep and can last between 5 and 15 minutes.
NREM sleep is composed of 3 stages:
Stage 1: when your eyes are closed, but it is still easy to become awake.
Stage 2: when you are sleeping lightly. While you are preparing for deep sleep, your heart rate lowers and your body temperature falls.
Stage 3: considered the stage of deep sleep. It is more difficult to wake up at this moment and, if anyone tries to awaken you, this will cause further disorientation.


REM sleep is composed of:
Stage 4: REM sleep normally occurs 90 minutes after falling asleep and this is the stage of sleep in which we dream. The brain is more active and your heart rate and breathing accelerate. Adults can spend about 20% of their sleep in REM stage, while babies can spend about 50% of their sleep in this stage.

REM means rapid eye movement and NREM means non-rapid eye movement.







 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NREM sleep occurs first, followed by REM sleep and the cycle restarts.

In each cycle, the time that you remain in NREM and REM phases vary, but permanency in REM increases in successive cycles.
If the REM and NREM cycles are interrupted on various occasions during the night, whether due to snoring or due to difficulties in breathing or waking up frequently during the night, we prevent our vital processes of regeneration of our body, negatively affecting our health in the short and long-term.
The differences that there are in each phase of sleep are primarily found in the cerebral activity of the person. For example, brain waves are slower in deep phases of sleep such as 3 and 4. In contrast, in the REM phase, despite being a deep sleep, cerebral activity is similar to that of a person when awake, and it is at this phase that we dream.
Both the REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages are important phases in sleep and are used for different functions in your body.
REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs, helps the mind to process emotions, memories and anguish, and is crucial to stimulate the brain.
NREM represents 75-80% of total sleep each night. Many of the health benefits of sleep occur during NREM, such as growth and tissue repair. In addition to this, energy is restored and hormones that are important for growth and development are released.

Sleeping is a vital necessity, but if these hours of sleep are not effective, then those eight hours in bed will be worthless.

 
 
 
 
 
 

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON'T SLEEP ENOUGH?

 

 
 
If we don't sleep well during the night, passing through the REM and NREM phases, we can show:

• Mood changes, irritability, depression and drowsiness
• Slow reaction capacity, memory loss, inability to concentrate.
• Desire to eat food rich in fats and sugars that could lead to increased weight.