There has been quiet a bit of discussion lately about which is more important. Is the amount of time we sleep more important or the number of sleep cycles we go through? Why is that sometimes I can sleep 5-6 hours and wake up refreshed and ready for a challenging day? Yet some days I can sleep 8-9 hours and I feel like I am walking through a fog bank and I have lead boots on? The answer lies not in the actual amount of sleep I get.
Here is where we get into sleep architecture. Sleep architecture represents the cyclical pattern of sleep as it shifts between the different sleep stages, including non rapid eye movement sleep or (NREM) and rapid eye movement or (REM). There are generally four to five different sleep cycles during a given night and each of the different cycles lasts from about 90 to 120 minutes.
Researchers understand that we need a minimum of 5-6 cycles asleep per night. This translates to anywhere between 7.5-9 hours of sleep nightly. Like many other aspects of life, sleep architecture alters with age. Have you ever held elderly people complain of difficult sleeping?.
Each sleep stage in any particular sleep cycle fulfills a distinct physiological and neurological function, each of which appears to be necessary for the health of the body and mind. If sleep is interrupted or if certain stages are missing for any reason, their physiological functions are not fully executed. Thus the person may feel tired or groggy even after an apparently sufficient sleep period. This phenomenon is known as sleep inertia.
These sleep cycles though do not need to be had in one round. In western culture we have a tendency to sleep in one chunk of time. in Western Society we tend to sleep in one big chunk at night, some researchers question whether this is what our bodies were designed to do.
Some remote cultures are known to sleep in two phases: about six hours at night and a one and a half hour nap in the afternoon. This sleep schedule is similar to those Mediterranean cultures known for their mid-afternoon “siestas.”
Researchers have determined that the worst thing that can happening when you are sleeping it to wake up during one of your sleep cycles. If you awake during a sleep cycle this is what cause the grogginess and fogginess you feel through out the day. To help prevent this from happening you can use a sleep calculator. Sleep calculators determine what is the optimize time for you to go to sleep according to sleep cycles and the time you want to get up.
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