Why is sleep important? That’s a question that has been attracting much scientific interest – particularly with the increasing busyness of our modern lives and pervasive lure to actively address or work-to-complete our myriad involvements, while shaving off the hours spent seemingly “idle”.
But the cost to our well-being is real. Research, particularly within neuroscience, is bringing heightened awareness to the importance of sleep: its duration, continuity, and timing. Fortunately, our growth in understanding is coupled with the ability to track our sleep more easily using wearable devices (such as smartwatches). So to a significant extent, correcting our sleeping habits is within our control.
What happens when we sleep?
Technicalities aside, there are two main states of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM, when we dream) and non-Rapid Eye Movement (non-REM, which increases in depth to ‘deep sleep’). Both states do wondrous things, and they are not without activity, as we might expect. During certain stages of sleep, your brain is up to 30% more active than when you are awake.
REM and non-REM cycle throughout the night, every 90 minutes, with the ratio balance shifting from non-REM dominance to REM over a course of about eight hours – making seven to nine hours the “sweet spot” for a good night’s rest. Different stages of sleep perform different functions for the brain and body, at different times of night. Memories are replayed over and over during your sleep – sped up during non-REM sleep, and slowed down in REM. It’s a mysterious dance, but one that has a profound effect on our health and well-being.
This is why it is vital to maintain a 6-8 hour sleep routine for your own well being as well as your mental health.
The SpineAlign Team