You may already be familiar with the different phases of sleep, but how important these phases are – and how they affect your overall health – may surprise you.
Even though there are four phases of sleep, many people don’t realize that sleeping patterns typically do not progress through the stages in sequence.
You may have heard of rapid eye movement, commonly referred to as REM sleep, which occurs during the fourth of these stages. It is considered the most important phase of sleep.
What Are the Four Stages of Sleep?
Although we want to focus on REM sleep and its role in your overall health, it’s important to know what the other phases of sleep are in order to fully understand what they mean to your health.
The first stage of sleep is typically the lightest, lasting only five to ten minutes, and is referred to as the transition period between sleep and wakefulness. It produces very slow brain waves called theta waves.
Most of our sleep occurs during stage two. During this stage, the brain has periods of activity that are called sleep spindles because of the way they look on an EEG. They are associated with our ability to learn.
Deep sleep, which produces delta waves, begins during the third stage of sleep. This is the transitional period between light and very deep sleep, where people become less responsive to noises and activity in their surroundings.
The fourth stage of sleep, REM, is where most of your dreaming occurs, due to an increase in brain activity. This stage is sometimes referred to as paradoxical sleep, because even though the muscles in the body are more relaxed, the brain and other body systems are more active.
Lack of REM Sleep Linked to Neurodegenerative Diseases
Now that we know what the different stages of sleep are, we can better understand why certain phases are more important than others.
Recently, a report cited by the Business Standard linked certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and dementia, to unexplained and spontaneous disturbances of REM sleep.
Although researchers aren’t sure why such disturbances would lead to these illnesses specifically, they do believe it is connected to the dopamine transporter system, which becomes dysfunctional when REM sleep is continuously interrupted. Parkinson’s disease is associated with the depletion of dopamine production in the brain.
Because we understand how important sleep is, we want to make sure that you are getting the best and most restful sleep you possibly can.
Find a bed that makes you feel good,