Sleep is an essential process that our body needs to function. It is the time when the brain refreshes itself, when cells are recharged, and when muscles are repaired. What many people don’t know, however, is that sleep has different stages. The brain goes through four stages of sleep per day- these being light, deep, REM (rapid eye movement), and slow-wave.
A sleep cycle is the average length of time it takes for an individual's brain and body to go through a full sleep process. Sleep cycles typically last between 90 minutes to two hours, followed by a short period of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) before starting over again.
Human beings typically spend about 75% of their total sleep in light sleep and 25% in deep sleep.
The importance of sleep cannot be understated. In our 24-hour society, we are often told to “get by” with less sleep. However, research has shown that a lack of sleep can have detrimental effects on an individual’s health and cognitive function. Sleep deprivation affects the ability to learn new information and remember it later, as well as the ability to regulate emotions and control thoughts. It also impacts your immune system by suppressing immunity cells.
The most common misconception about sleep is that it is a form of laziness. In fact, sleep is an essential part of the human body's natural circadian rhythm and is so important for both mental and physical health that it cannot be ignored.
Since we spend one-third of our lives asleep, we need to do everything we can to improve the quality and duration of our sleep.
When we sleep, our brain is busy reorganizing our memories, helping us to make sense of what's happened during the day. It also helps with mood regulation and decision-making, as it "breaks down chemicals that are linked to stress." The National Sleep Foundation reports that lack of sleep can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, and slower reaction times.