5 Pillars of health – Sleep

Pillars of health Fit By Fatima-2Sleep is an important part of our routine – we spend approximately one-third of our life doing it. Getting enough quality sleep is as essential to our survival as food and water. Sleep affects almost every type of tissue and system in our body – from the brain, heart and lunges to metabolism, immune function, mood and disease resistance.

Now let me ask you when was the last time you got a good night’s sleep?

For some people the answer might be:.. I don’t even remember or I don’t know how it feels to have a full night sleep…or I go to bed, I am tired but cannot fall asleep….

More and more, specially with the times we are living in, stress and pressure is on us 24/7, being able to lay down and rest, it’s starting to be more of a “luxury” than a natural event.

Sleep, what is it?

A natural, easily reversible periodic state of mind and body characterized by altered consciousness, relatively inhibited sensory activity, reduced muscle activation, inhibition of nearly all voluntary muscles and reduced interaction with surroundings.

A very straight forward definition but with a complex format. Sleep can be characterized into different stages, here we are going to talk about the 4 main ones.

Stages of sleep

sleep Fatima DiasThere are two basic types of sleep: Rapid eye movement (REM) and Non-REM (which has 3 different stages). Which stage is linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity. We cycle through all stages several times during on a typical night sleep.

Stage 1 – Non-REM sleep is the change over from wakefulness to sleep. During this short period of time (can last between 1 to 5 min) of relatively light sleep, our heartbeat, breathing and eye movement slows down, while muscles start to relax, at this stage we may even feel occasional twitches in the muscles.

Stage 2 – Non-REM sleep, this second phase is a period of light sleep before entering a deeper sleep stage. Our heartbeat and breathing go into an even slower pace and our muscles relax even further. Body temperature drops and eye movement stops. We tend to spend more of our repeated sleep cycles in this stage then any other.

Stage 3 – Non-REM sleep, this stage is also called, Deep Sleep. It is the period that we need to feel refreshed in the morning and energized.  Our heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels, our muscles are completely relaxed and our brain waves are also slowed down. At this time its pretty difficult to be awakened. Duration can range between 30min to 1 hour.

Stage 4 – REM sleep it occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This is when most of our dreaming occurs. Our eyes move rapidly, mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to that seen in wakefulness. Breathing becomes faster and irregular and heart rate goes up.

Dreams can be experienced in other stages but usually are more vivid in REM sleep.

Did you know some people dream in colour, while others only recall dreaming in black and white; and that as we age, our REM sleep time declines. Interesting right?

But sleep is more important than you can imagine. Read this blog post I wrote to find out why.


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