Sleep in Five Acts
A full night’s rest can only be the result of several components working together. First and foremost is the health of the sleeper, both physical and mental. This is the most important component to sleeping soundly through the entire night though in contemporary society maintaining a steady level of health can be a surprising challenge. Research indicates that out of every 4 U.S. workers, one has insomnia, a figure that adds up to $63 billion dollars lost every year. The second collective component of a good night’s rest is the physical quality of the room. While a smaller mattress may work for single sleepers, couples should own a king or queen bed for optimal comfort. Sleeping position is strongly affected by this and affects the depth of sleep a person can comfortably reach. The room should be kept at an even temperature so as to avoid chronic waking. Up to 86% of sleepers are awoken because of temperature on a nightly basis and may have trouble getting back to a deeper sleep. In fact, there are four stages of sleep that are necessary to feel rested the next day. In order, they are:
Early sleep is where the mind and muscles are still easily disturbed. Because of this, this is the stage where the physical structure of the room matters most. Maintaining a healthy amount of sleeping space, on a king or queen bed, is the best way to pass through this difficult stage of sleep, one where there are still plenty of distractions able to disturb the mind. While these types of larger beds can seem expensive, there are plenty of affordable options that are worth the effort of buying. The extra amount of room a queen bed or a king bed provides will allow for a faster and fuller fall into the next stage of sleep.
This is where the health of the actual sleeper comes into play. The sleep quality begins to be determined here, when the brain and eyes begin to cease any type of quick movement. It’s harder to wake in this stage and the brain will switch to a different type of wave than the one typically given off while awake.
Deep Sleep is where all action in the body has ceased other than primary functions. Muscles don’t move, not even the muscles in the eye. It is in this stage that most snoring begins, a problem that affects 90 million adults in the United States alone. This is also the stage of sleep where other activity begins to physically occur. In children, this might mean nightmares or bed wetting. In adults, it can mean nightmares, the worse night-terrors or somnambulism (sleep-walking).
For a normal sleep schedule, the final stage is REM which stands for rapid eye movement. In this stage, the stillness of deep sleep changes into action. Breath can become faster. The signals of the brain can change. Most normal dreams occur in REM when the brain begins to fire in erratic directions. Heartbeat rises and the body begins to act more like its physically awake.