The sleep cycle is a natural, internal system that regulates our sleep pattern over a period of 24 hours. This cycle, also known as the “Circadian Rhythm” is controlled by an area of the brain sensitive to light. That is why we tend to prefer darkness while sleeping.
First Stage: It is the lightest stage of sleep. During this stage, eye movements are slow. A person in this stage of sleep can be easily disturbed. There is a relaxation in Muscle tone throughout the body and brain wave activity starts to slow down.
Second Stage: This is the first stage of Non-REM sleep. People do not stay awake or can wake up as quickly as in the First Stage. The slow movement of the eyes stops.
Body temperature and heart rate, both decrease during this stage of the sleep cycle.
Third Stage: It is at this stage that the body begins to restore/repair itself. This stage is also known as deep Non-REM sleep characterized by slow brain-wave activity. Sleepwalking and sleep talking occurs in this stage.
REM Sleep (Rapid Eye Movement): People experience 4-5 periods of REM during a sleep cycle. This is the stage when we dream. Our muscles are temporarily paralyzed during this time to prevent us from acting out our dreams.
The eyes start moving side to side, brain-wave activity increases and the body loses some of its ability of temperature regulation.
Changes In Circadian Rhythm With Age:
Adults sleep about 8 hours per night while teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep to function correctly. However, these numbers may vary from person to person. As we age, our deep sleep and REM sleep stages also start getting shorter. Adolescents experience the most drastic change.
Regulate Your Sleep Pattern:
Steps to follow to make the best out of your sleep-
Maintain a Sleep Schedule: Keep your bedtime regular. Doing so will help you keep your sleep cycle at its best. Follow your sleep schedule even on weekends as even some extra sleep can disturb your body clock. Go for morning walks: The best way to get an energy boost is by going for a morning walk every day. Receiving a little sunlight in the morning is the best way to tell the brain that it’s time to wake up. Limit Technology at night: Artificial blue light from laptops and smartphones confuses the brain into thinking it is still daytime. Therefore try not to use these devices at least two to three hours before going to bed. This will help you keep your sleep cycle functioning normally.