We need proper sleep patterns to assist us with our memory formations and cognitive functions. Sleep deprivation results in fatigue (no surprise there), irritability, decreased attention span, slower response time, memory gaps, and impaired judgment.. Blood pressure has its own circadian rhythm, decreasing while you sleep and rising when you awaken. Those people with higher levels of anger and hostility lose this natural lowering of blood pressure during the night hours. This elevated blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, organ damage and stroke. So not only you need to get adequate sleep each night, but also you need to have a regular sleep schedule from day to day. Don’t go to bed upset. Apply following sleep system.
There are people who get an average of 8 to 10 hours of sleep and always feel tired, low on energy and complain about “poor sleep”, or “sleep deprivation”. It’s been proven that when we’re deprived of deep sleep, we experience our greatest day-time impairments, such as drowsiness, nausea, headaches, muscle aches and trouble concentrating. So we try to compensate by sleeping even longer! In reality, they are sleeping TOO MUCH, and decreasing the “quality” of their sleep as well as their energy levels. This happens because there is an underlying energy and Sleep system in their body but they’re not even aware of.
It is possible to sleep for 4-5 hours and feel more rested, more alert and more energized than you did when you slept for 8 or 9 hours (or more).
You see, it is not a question of Quantity, but rather Quality. This is the most important aspect about sleep you should grasp throughout this chapter.
Until the 20th century, it was believed that our minds completely turned off during sleep. Recent scientific discovery has uncovered something completely different that when we’re sleeping, our minds are more active than they are when we’re awake and our brains organize and store information in the memory.
The 5 Stages of Sleep
There are 5 stages of sleep. Meaning, you’re not always having the same experience when you’re sleeping, though you’re not aware that you’re having them. As you read about these,
and you allow this new understanding to come into view – you may begin to realize just how this mechanism may have played a key role in some of the sleepy experiences of your life.
When you’re fully awake
Before you sleep, you’re awake. But what really happens in your mind when we’re fully awake? At this point that our wakefulness system is at its peak point during the day and our minds exhibit really high brain waves, called beta brain waves. We are mostly in-tune with our super active conscious mind, which races from thought to thought, and keeps us on track with our daily lives.
Stage 1 Sleep
Whether you know it or not, you have consciously experienced Stage 1 Sleep all your life. Can you remember a time when you were drowsing off, day dreaming or “zoning out” during a boring class or lecture? It’s usually during times like these that we enter Stage 1 Sleep. During this stage we exhibit slightly lower brain waves called alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are also sometimes called “awake waves” – because we’re still very awake when we’re exhibiting them. In this stage our body relaxes, respiration and heart rate slightly drops and our minds tend to drift into an altered state of creativity and relaxation where thoughts drip like honey and it feels good to just be there. You can think of Stage 1 Sleep as a “doorway” to your sleep.
Stage 2 Sleep
During stage 2 sleep, we experience patterns of brain waves called theta brain waves. During this stage we are still very wakable. In fact, most people woken up out of Stage 2 sleep and say “I was still awake.” Stage 2 sleep also plays a major role in restoring physical energy.
Stage 3 & 4 (Deep Sleep)
During stage 3 and 4 our brain waves reach their lowest frequency, we exhibit very low brain waves called delta brain waves and our mind goes back and forth between delta and theta brain waves. It’s during these 2 stages that we are truly officially “asleep”. This stage is also called deep sleep. As we enter deep sleep, our blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate reach their lowest point of the day. Our blood vessels dilate and most of the blood which is usually stored in our organs during the day travels into our muscles to nourish and repair them. Our immune system also turns on during deep sleep to fight diseases. This is why we sleep more when we’re ill. Again when we’re deprived of sleep for any irregular amount of time, our body will sacrifice all other stages of sleep to regain “deep sleep”.
Stage 5 (REM Sleep)
Stage 5 Sleep is probably the most fascinating stage of sleep, is also termed Rapid Eye Movement or REM sleep. When we are in this stage of sleep, our eyes move very rapidly in all directions. It’s believed that we dream mostly in the REM sleep stage. During REM sleep, respiration and blood pressure escalate dramatically; blood flow to the brain and muscles also increases. We absorb most of our daytime learnings during REM sleep.
Now that you know the basics of how sleep works, but the sleep stages explained above don’t happen only once during sleep. They happen multiple times during sleep in what are called sleep cycles.
During a sleep cycle, we progress from stage 1 to stage 5 multiple times. Refer to the graph below which shows an example of how we progress through the sleep stages and how much time we spend in each stage while sleeping.
Each Cycle ends with a period of REM sleep. The longest period of REM sleep is towards the end of sleep, during which we usually wake up for the final time. The challenge is, most of us use alarm clocks to “bolt” ourselves out of sleep. Often, our alarm clocks wake us up in the wrong sleep stage, making it very hard to wake up. For instance, if a person is in their last sleep cycle towards the end of a night and they’re in Stage 3 sleep, if your alarm clock goes blaring off at this point, it might be very difficult to get up, and feel rested. However, if only the alarm clock went off 30 minutes later, in REM sleep, getting up would be much easier.
Remember though, your sleep cycle never depends on when your alarm clock wakes you up, only on your body temperature levels.
So the only way to wake up at the end of a cycle is to do some trial and error testing with the time we go to sleep at. If you currently wake up feeling horrible, try going to sleep 20 minutes earlier or 20 minutes later, 40 minutes earlier or 40 minutes later than you usually do. By doing this, you’ll eventually find a “hot spot” for waking up at the end of your cycle.