Sleep as we all know is imperative to our survival, hormone rhythms, body temperature and other functions. In fact, a number of studies have shown a lack of sleep to be a direct influence on diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression, hypertension, obesity and infections. While we sleep for hopefully 8 hours, we good through 5 significant stages; Rapid Eye-Movement (REM), Stage 1, 2, 3 and 4, with each one causing a deeper sleep.
In the first hour of sleep, our vital signs and brain waves slow down, followed by the half hour where REM sleep occurs in conjunction with paralysis and dreams. This stage tends to go for 10-15 minutes and happens at decreasing duration and occurrence through the night.
However, somethings can go wrong, and when they do they can have drastic effects on our lifestyle and day-to-day routine. For example;
- Insomnia – Is a commonly heard of condition where the patient struggles to fall asleep or falls asleep but wakes up too early and cannot get back to sleep.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnoea – Is when the muscles near the throat relax and obstruct the airway, making it difficult to breathe. The patient would wake up without falling into deeper stages of sleep. This disorder can sometimes have a psychological effect on the patient, as well as, hypertension and heat attacks.
- Periodic Limb Movement – Is when the muscles move during sleep similar to a condition called REM Behaviour Disorder where the muscles fail to paralysis and people act out their dreams.
- Narcolepsy – Is fairly uncommon and is where the mechanisms that transition the body to sleep fail. Causing a loss of nerve cells in the lateral hypothalamus that contain the neurotransmitter orexin. People with this have attacks during the day when the fall asleep suddenly. Enter REM quickly and have a dream like state while awake – hypnagogic hallucination. Attacks of paralysis throughout the day triggered emotionally or even by a funny joke.
In general, sleep can be improved through reduced; alcohol, drug and blue light consumption and in some cases, specifically Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, not sleeping on your back or stomach.