August 18, 2020 3 min read

What is Sleep?


Sleep is the complex process of restoration and renewal of the body. It’s the body’s way of resetting itself, rejuvenating muscles and the mind. It is clear that sleep is essential, not only for humans but for almost all animals.


What causes the body to sleep is influenced by the circadian rhythms, regular body changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of the day or in a 24 hour period. These are controlled by the body’s reaction to the reaction to light, temperature and hormones to trigger the body’s biological clock. This clock helps regulate the “normal” awake and sleep cycles. Disruption of these cycles can make people sleepy, at times people want to be awake.


What are the stages of sleep?


1.REM Sleep (rapid-eye movement): Rem sleep is unlike any of the other stages of sleep. REM sleep includes complete inactivity of the voluntary muscles in the body, with the exception of the muscles that control eye movements. 


2.NREM (non-rapid eye movement)- NREM sleep occurs in 3 stages:


-Stage N1 Sleep, the transition from wakefulness to deeper sleep.

-Stage N2 Sleep, a true sleep state, accounts up to half the sleep time.

-Stage N3 Sleep, also known as delta sleep, a deep sleep, accounting for 20% of sleep.


What are and what causes sleep disorders?


About 50 to 70 million Americans are believed to suffer from chronic sleep disorders, with millions more affected on an occasional basis. There are defined over 70 different types of sleep disorders but the most common sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and narcolepsy.


Insomnia: The perceptions of poor-quality sleep, including the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Because everyone’s needs for sleep is different there are no fixed criteria that define insomnia. Sleep onset insomnia is characterized as occurring at the beginning of the desired sleep time and lasting for greater than 30 minutes. Sleep maintenance insomnia is when individuals fall asleep, but awaken periodically or for lengthy periods during the night…


Sleep Apnea: A common sleep disorder characterized by a reduction or pause of breathing during sleep. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send the signal to the muscles to take a breath, and there is no muscular effort to take a breath.


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Known as nocturnal myoclonus, is a type of sleep disorder characterized by uncomfortable sensations in the leg and an uncontrollable desire to move the legs. People with RLS may have difficulty falling asleep because of the difficulty getting comfortable and an increased urge to move their legs.


Narcolepsy: A disease of the central nervous system that results in excessive daytime sleepiness. Other symptoms of narcolepsy include the loss of muscle tone, distorted perceptions and the inability to move or talk. Additional symptoms can include disturbed nocturnal sleep and automatic behaviors. 

 

How can you treat sleep problems?


Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol use before bedtime. Some studies have shown that caffeine consumed early in the day can have an effect on the ability to fall asleep at night. Definitely don’t drink any coffee in the afternoon. 

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Have a regular bedtime and waking schedule.
  • Maintain a comfortable sleeping schedule.
  • Maintain a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Minimize your resting time in bed. When you get to your bed, try to sleep immediately to mentally condition yourself as your bed represents sleep.
  • Avoid watching television or having bright lights before you sleep.