Our human spends 1/3rd of life in a hypnotic stage called sleep. Sleep allows parts of the brain to rest and detoxify while other parts become very active. Sleep is a critical component to good health. Restful sleep is necessary for daytime memory, alertness, problem solving, feeling good, positive attitude, and attention to detail throughout the day.
There are 5 stages of sleep. Each stage has its own characteristics within the brain.
The first stage is a light stage of sleep. Breathing is normal, and the brain frequency is slightly lower than normal.
The second stage of sleep follows stage one but is a deeper state of sleep. This stage is characterized by saw tooth brain waves and sleep spindles.
The third and forth stage of sleep are progressively deeper. These stages are called “slow wave sleep” or Delta sleep. Stage three has bursts of delta waves and faster waves. In stage four the brain is in strict delta waves mode. During these stages one is in a deep sleep and has difficulty awakening. These stages the breathing becomes calmer, and the muscles are paralyzed. As we age, we spend less time in the third and fourth stage.
The fifth stage is called REM or rapid eye movement. This is when we will experience dreams. If you recall a dream during the night, you reached this stage of sleep at some point. This stage the breathing becomes more erratic and irregular, the heart rate often increases. This paralysis is thought to prevent us from injuring ourselves while we are sleeping.
The fifth stage of sleep is where we get the most health benefits. Throughout the day our body is very active with various tasks. During these activities a lot of chemistries takes place in the brain. A toxin called beta-amyloid is produced as a byproduct of normal activity. This protein byproduct accumulates in the brain and has been associated with Alzheimer’s if not detoxified regularly. During the fifth stage of sleep is when our brain in most active at detoxifying beta- amyloid.
It’s important to note, these stages of sleep must fall in order. We cannot go from stage 2 to 4 or 1 to 5. Each stage follows the last. If we are awakened, we must go through each stage again to reach stage five. It is common to enter and exit stages several times throughout the night.
Many factors may be involved in interrupting these sleeping patterns. Stress, diet, eating late, late night habits, drugs, heath, consistent urination throughout the night and sleep apnea may all have factors. Making sure we address these issues may be favorable for better sleep and in return better health.
Melatonin is a hormone mostly manufactured in the pineal gland and is responsible for putting us to sleep and keeping us asleep. Melatonin is triggered by darkness, relaxation, and habits of going to bed at the same time each night. in the evening before bed. Calcium, magnesium and, vitamin D3 all assist in the manufacturing and stimulation of melatonin. Taking these supplements may help support healthy production of melatonin and support better sleep.
Valarian root and hops has successful studies supporting good sleep. These herb’s therapeutics may promote getting to sleep and keeping us asleep throughout the night.