We might think that sleep is a moment of calm we allow ourselves at the end of a full day, and yes, in some way, it is.
However, although our body recharges during sleep, many things happen without us knowing!
Sleeping is a much more complicated activity than one would think. During sleep, our body goes through many processes: the “dozing off” stage is followed by light sleep and later turns into a deep sleep during which dreams occur.
The structure of sleep
Every time we sleep, we progress through 4 different phases, which repeat 4 to 6 times over the night.
Phase 1 - NREM
The first stage of sleep is called NREM (Non-Rem), also known as “peaceful sleep”. This is when muscles relax, the heart rate slows down, and our body temperature drops while we slowly doze off.
This first phase lasts from 5 and 10 minutes. However, duration may vary according to individual features and the surrounding environment.
Phase 2 - “Light sleep”
The second phase has to do with “light sleep”. During this stage, our pulse slows down even more, and our muscles are fully relaxed. Did you know that this phase takes up more than half of the time we dedicate to sleep?
Phase 3 - “Deep sleep”
This is the so-called “deep sleep” stage. It’s when our body’s natural defense system begins to get rid of toxins and waste and produces the necessary antibodies against viruses and bacteria.
Stage 4 - REM sleep
At last, we have the REM sleep phase (“Rapid Eye Movement”), considered essential for processing experiences and promoting long-term memorization. Furthermore, during this stage, the absence of muscle activity allows us not to act all the movements that occur during dreams.
Fun fact: did you know that children’s sleep differs from adults’?
Newborns have a much different sleep cycle because their biological clock has not yet “understood” the alternation between wakefulness and sleep. Between night rest and daytime naps, a baby can sleep up to 18 hours a day!
But the significant difference between adults and children lies not only in the amount of sleep but also in the characteristics of sleep itself. Children’s REM phase differs from adults’ for the ability to collect the countless information acquired during the day.
Deep sleep: quality more than quantity!
It is essential to know that poor sleep quality during REM sleep causes irritability and nervousness. In teenage boys and girls, poor sleep quality during the NREM phase affects the correct physical and mental development.