Sleep: What It’s All About

Sleeping is an extremely important part of our lives and routine, it is our time to have a little ‘break’ or time out period to refresh our self. We are able to eliminate waste from our muscles and repair cells while we sleep. It is also a way for our immune system to strengthen. There are 4 stages of sleep and the REM stage (rapid eye movement).

During the first stage of sleep our brain waves become small and irregular. We begin drifting on the edge of consciousness in a state of light sleep. It is easy to awake someone in stage one and once awakened a person in stage one can remember fantasies or images.

Stage two is slightly deeper and minor noises will not awaken you. During this level of sleep it is normal to experience occasional short bursts of rapid, high peaking, waves called sleep spindles. These sleep spindles continue into stage three where they are joined by delta waves. Delta waves are very slow waves with high peaks. Breathing and pulse slow down during stage three and muscles begin to relax. It is harder to awake someone in stage three.

During stage four the delta waves take over. We are in a state of deep sleep and if you are subject to talking or walking in your sleep it will usually happen in stage four. While researchers do not know what causes sleep walking it is likely to happen to children.

To reach stage four usually takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes. Once you reach stage four you will begin to regress back to stage one meaning you go from stage four to stage three and so on. When you reach stage one again (this will take another 30 minutes) you enter REM sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement and takes place usually every 90 minutes. These periods of REM sleep usually last from a few minutes to one hour. They average 20 minutes in length.

Each stage is extremely important to the entire act of sleep. Without completing each stage we become subject to a variety of sleep disorders. In order to get the maximum healing sleep each person must go through stage one through four to reach REM stage.

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