Sleep Architecture 101

Sleep can be divided into two categories: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and Non REM sleep.

Both are critical to your health. And you get plenty of both REM and non-REM sleep when you complete an appropriate number of sleep cycles. When you get a good night’s sleep, you get anywhere from four to six complete cycles, each of which takes 90 – 110 minutes.

REM sleep is when neurotransmitters and your mind are re-balanced and repaired.

Non-REM sleep is when your body repairs, growth hormone is released and your metabolism is rebalanced.

Non-REM sleep has four stages.

Stage one is when you move from wakefulness to drowsiness to falling asleep. This is what you see when you drag your husband to the opera and he starts nodding off.

In stage two, eye movement stops, brain waves slow down, muscles relax, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.

Stages three and four—together called slow wave sleep—are characterized by brain waves called delta and theta waves. Body temperature and blood pressure drop just a little more, breathing slows, and the body becomes immobile—the well-known “dead to the world” phase.

After all this, the "pièce de résistance" REM sleep happens. This is when everyone in dreamland gets up to dance! REM sleep is the stage where you dream.

Not getting enough sleep can depress your immune system and raise your stress hormone levels. That’s why fixing your sleep is one of the most effective anti-aging techniques in the world. Without sufficient sleep, you age faster. It’s no secret that most of us don’t get enough sleep. It affects how we work, how we relate to other people, how we make decisions, and how we feel in general.

Sleep is a big part of an anti-aging lifestyle. The right amount of sleep—and, equally important, the right kind of sleep—is absolutely essential.

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