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Sleep is an essential part of your routine, and you spend a significant part of your day resting. Quality sleep recharges your brain and body and strengthens your mind to create new memories. People who fail to achieve a good night’s sleep find it hard to concentrate and respond. It is so because sleep supports several brain functions, including how nerve cells communicate with each other. Recent findings also reveal that resting plays a housekeeping role and removes toxins in your mind that build up when you are awake. Here is some vital information for those interested in knowing more about sleep and its stages. Have a look!

Sleep stages

Basically, there are two types of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. Both are linked with specific brain waves and neural activity.

In Stage 1of non-REM sleep, you go from being awake to asleep. Here, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow down, and your muscles start relaxing. In addition, in stage 1, the brain waves slow down from the daytime wakefulness patterns.

Stage 2of non-REM sleep features light rest. At this stage, your breathing slows, muscles relax, and your body temperature drops. The brain activity slows even further and is marked by brief bursts of electrical activity. 

Stage 3of non-REM sleep is the period where you enter deep rest. At this stage, your muscles get relaxed, and it becomes hard to awaken you. 

REM sleephappens in the first 90 minutes of falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly, and breathing gets faster and irregular during this stage. Most dreaming occurs during REM sleep, although some people also dream during the non-REM phase. 

Sleep mechanisms

Two internal biological mechanisms work in sync with each other to regulate your sleep and wake cycle. These are:

Circadian rhythmscontrol your sleep-wake cycle and cause you to be sleepy. This system is responsible for waking you up in the morning without an alarm. It is controlled by your body’s biological clock and syncs with environmental cues like light and temperature.

Sleep-wake homeostasistracks your need for rest. It is responsible for reminding your body to sleep after a certain time and controls sleep intensity. The sleep-wake homeostasis makes you more sleepy with every passing hour and causes you to rest longer after a period of sleep deprivation.

How to sleep better?

  • Consuming caffeine past the afternoon in any form should be avoided for a peaceful night of rest.

  • Don’t lie awake in your bed. If you can’t sleep, get up and do something else. 

  • Exercise for some time, like 20 to 30 minutes a day, no later than a few hours. 

  • Follow a sleep timetable so that you wake up and rest at the same time every day.

  • Follow a sleep ritual, like listening to music or taking a hot water bath before heading off to bed.

Sleep can be classified into REM and non-REM sleep. It is controlled by sleep-wake homeostasis and circadian rhythm mechanisms. 

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