There are four main reasons why we need sleep – memory consolidation, recovery, repair and energy conservation. Sleep is a key time for the body to replace chemicals and repair muscles, other tissues and dead cells. Our bodies also produce growth hormones during sleep.
What are the stages of sleep?
There are five stages of sleep. The first four are non-REM (non-rapid eye movement), which include the introduction, beginning and slow wave stages. The last stage is rapid eye movement (REM), which is when dreaming occurs.
Stage 1 – Introduction to sleep
Stage 1 is marked by the slowing down of brain activity and muscle relaxation. It’s a head gently nodding or eyelids slowly closing. You can be easily woken up at this stage which is why you suddenly wake up for no reason, an occurrence known as a myoclonic jerk.
Stage 2 – Beginning of sleep
In this stage, the brain and muscles slows down further and you are in a light, dreamless state. You can be woken at this stage, for example, if the phone rings. Some people may begin snoring at this stage.
Stage 3 & 4 – Slow Wave sleep
During stages 3 & 4, the body gets its rest. Muscles in the throat are so relaxed at this stage. Arousal from slow wave sleep is difficult and may result in disorientation. Slow Wave sleep stages allow the body to direct its resources to regenerating tissues, building bones and muscle, recharging energy stores and strengthening the immune system.
Stage 5 – REM sleep
During REM, the brain stores its long term memories. This is also the stage of intense dreaming and usually occurs 80-90 minutes after you fall asleep. During a night, the body will switch between REM and non-REM in cycles of about 90 minutes.
How much sleep do we need?
The National Sleep Foundation – a non-profit organisation aimed at promoting healthy sleep and safety – says the amount of sleep needed is variable, between person to person, but this is a rough guide:
- Newborns (0-3 months) 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months) 12-15 hours
- Primary school children 9 -11 hours
- Teenagers 8 -10 hours
- Adults 7-9 hours
What happens if sleep is interrupted?
There are some serious health risks associated with sleep deprivation. Too little sleep leaves us unable to concentrate the next day. It also leads to impaired memory, physical performance and even a reduced ability to carry out simple tasks. If sleep deprivation continues, hallucinations and mood swings can develop.
A lack of sleep is known to be linked to stress responses that increase heart rate, blood pressure and the secretion of the hormone adrenaline – all risk factors for heart disease.
How to get a good night’s sleep
There’s nothing worse than having to share a bed with someone who has different sleeping preferences to you. What if they prefer a hard mattress and you’d prefer one you can sink into? If you’re not comfortable, you simply won’t get a good night’s sleep.
Zip and link beds allow two narrow mattresses to be zipped together. This type of pocket sprung mattress and base is popular where partners have different mattress preferences, or where access to the bedroom or attic room restricts the use of a full sized pocket sprung mattress.
To see how we can assist you in getting a better night’s sleep, contact us on 01772 786666.