We sleep every night. Well, ideally, we do. But what exactly happens while we sleep?
We spend almost 1/3rd of our lives sleeping, yet isn’t it interesting how something we spend so much time doing can actually be a mystery to so many?
Over the last few weeks I’ve cited many of the reasons why getting quality sleep so critical. Weight loss. Hormone function. Brain function. And so on.
If you still remain skeptical and say “screw you” to sleep, I hear you. Sleep was the first thing I would let slip when under a tight deadline or wanted to play instead.
Understanding what happens during sleep may open your eyes (and make you want to close them).
Now let’s dig a bit into the beautiful orchestra that occurs in order to make you tick and operate optimally.
There are generally two stages of sleep:
- REM (rapid eye movement) – the period when you have the most vivid dreams.
- NREM (non-rapid eye movement) – the majority of our sleep (70-80%), and characterized as when sleep is the deepest (which is critical for many reasons). Electrical patterns occur during this phase and you still dream, but not as vividly.
According to an article in the Independent, “without NREM sleep, our ability to form declarative memories, like learning to associate pairs of words, is seriously impaired; deep sleep is important for transferring short-term memories into long-term storage. Deep sleep is also the time of peak growth hormone release in the body, which is important for cell reproduction and repair,” and supports the immune system.
If you don’t allow enough hours for sleep, or have chronic issues falling or staying asleep, your ability to spend enough time in a deep sleep is compromised.
There are a number of theories, but no one seems to know for sure the purpose of REM sleep. Many think it’s when the brain refreshes itself and allows for new learning. It does, however seem that “the effects of REM sleep deprivation are less severe than NREM deprivation, and for the first two weeks humans report little in the way of ill effects.”
Now that you’re well versed in the differences between REM and NREM sleep, it’s fascinating to learn that every 90-110 minutes you cycle through 5 separate stages of these.
- Begins with drowsiness as you drift in and out of consciousness (1-7 minutes)
- Light sleep (10-25 minutes)
- Moderate sleep (20-40 minutes)
- Deepest sleep (20-40 minutes)
- After deep sleep (10-60 minutes)
- “This is the period of the night when most dreams happen. Your muscles are temporarily paralyzed, and your eyes dart back and forth, giving this stage its name, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.”
Even with all that, researchers aren’t actually sure why we sleep. It’s one of the many mysteries of nature. But when we do it well, don’t you just feel grand?
If you want to feel so all the time, consider taking one of the last spots at our Montauk Sleepscape Retreat, May 3-6. Aaaaah, the sounds of the ocean from your seaside room, personalized health coaching, dream-inspiring yoga and meditation, and a noteworthy sunset cruise are just some of the activities you’ll enjoy. Join us!
Importantly, prioritize sleep this week. Try going to bed even just 15 minutes earlier than usual every night, or engage in a new wind-down practice like taking a warm shower or shutting off the electronics an hour before bedtime. Perhaps you’ll find yourself in a blissful dream!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™
Montauk Sleepscape Retreat, May 3-6 – Ocean air, beachfront accommodations, yoga, meditation, great food, sunset boat cruise, techniques for getting quality sleep, and 1:1 health coaching. Only a few spots left!