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What to Know About Sleep Cycles

Sleep Cycles

Your body and mind are still at work even when you’re sleeping. You may not know it, but sleep is one of the most vital things you can do for good health. It’s a time when you can restore energy levels, grow bone mass, repair injuries, and other processes in physical restoration. In addition to benefiting your body, sleep is great for your mind. Your brain sorts memories and secretes hormones while you’re sleeping to keep your mental health intact. 

Sacrificing sleep to work is a thing of the past. This type of toxic thinking only triggered increases in stress, inflammation, and other adverse health conditions. Now, we know better. Getting eight hours of sleep every night should be our goal, and you’ll see dramatic improvements in energy levels and cognitive function when you do. 

If you’re interested in learning more about sleep cycles and what happens in your mind and body when you lay down to rest at night, here is some important information about sleep. 

There are Different Stages of Sleep

Your body and mind go through stages while you sleep. Each of these stages shifts between rapid eye movement sleep (REM), and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep is widely known to be the deeper, more regenerative type of sleep. It’s when we’re really out and our body enters recovery mode. 

In the first stage of sleep, you’ve just fallen asleep. Your body is transitioning into sleep mode. This is non-REM sleep and is usually only a few minutes long. In this stage, your muscles start to relax and your heart rate goes down. Your breathing slows and your brain waves start to change. 

Once you’ve fallen asleep, your body enters the second stage of sleep where your heart rate and breathing slow down even further. Your body temperature starts to drop and your eye movements cease. Your brain is particularly active during this period of sleep that lasts around half an hour. 

In the final stages of sleep, your body enters non-REM sleep. These deep stages of sleep are when your body starts its important work. When you’re in deep sleep, it’s harder to awake, your breathing and heart are at their slowest. Tissues grow and repair and this is when most of the cell creation and regenerative work happens. 

Dreaming typically happens during the REM stages of sleep that occur in the first hour or first two hours of sleep. During REM sleep, your eyes are moving rapidly, breathing increases, there is significant brain activity. 

Sleep is Critical to Overall Health

For decades, we’ve heard that the keys to good health are good diets and vigorous exercise routines. We’ve been out jogging or hitting the gym every day in hopes it would increase our energy levels and live longer. 

What we know now is that sleep is just as important to long-term health as diet and exercise. If you’re not getting enough sleep and getting your body into the deeper stages of non-REM sleep where regeneration occurs, you’re not getting the rest you need. 

With a greater focus on sleep, most people report feeling better with more consistent levels of energy throughout the day. They feel better and can do more. People who sleep more have sharper cognitive functions and are typically in better moods. 

It’s also important to get enough hours of sleep because your body needs to go through each of these cycles every night. If you’re only getting REM sleep, for example, you could have some vivid dreams, but your body doesn’t enter the deep stages of sleep where healing and growth happen. To go through the stages, you need to be relaxed and have enough time where your body can complete the entire process. There’s no way to shortcut the sleep cycles. 

Studies on Peptides and Sleep Cycles

Researchers believe that sleep cycles are regulated by orexin, a neurochemical that is produced by specific neurons in the brain. In tests done on rainbow trout, there is evidence to suggest that the peptide sermorelin  boosts orexin secretion and leads to deeper sleep. As a result, these rainbow trout saw improvements in growth hormone secretion, which is tied to growth and healing during sleep. Much research is being conducted to learn about future medical possibilities. 

If you’re not getting enough sleep now, you’re selling yourself short. Start making it more of a priority and do your best to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Your body and mind will pay you back with better performance during the day and you’re setting yourself up for better long-term health.