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Sleep cycles explained

Sleep, it's something we all appreciate especially when we don't get enough of it. It is essential for overall health and well-being. The sleep cycle consists of two main stages: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM sleep is further divided into three stages: stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3.


During stage 1, which typically lasts for five to ten minutes, the body transitions from wakefulness to sleep. Brain waves slow down, and muscles relax. Stage 2, which lasts for about 20-30 minutes, is characterized by slower brain waves, occasional bursts of rapid brain waves, and a further drop in muscle activity. Stage 3, also known as slow-wave sleep, is the deepest stage of NREM sleep, with very slow brain waves and minimal muscle activity.


REM sleep, which usually occurs after 90 minutes of sleep, is characterized by rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, and temporary paralysis of the body's muscles. It is during REM sleep that dreaming occurs.


Sleep tracking devices are becoming increasingly popular for monitoring sleep quality and quantity. These devices typically use sensors to track movement, heart rate, and breathing patterns. They can also measure the time spent in different sleep stages and provide insights into sleep patterns.


One of the most popular sleep tracking devices is the Fitbit. The Fitbit tracks sleep stages, heart rate, and other metrics and provides a Sleep Score to help users understand the quality of their sleep. Another popular device is the Oura Ring, which tracks heart rate, body temperature, and sleep stages to provide a comprehensive overview of sleep quality. The Whoop band is another wearable device that monitors sleep cycles and provides valuable insights into sleep quality and duration. By tracking the different stages of sleep, including deep, light, and REM sleep, the Whoop band can provide personalized recommendations for improving sleep habits and optimizing recovery.


Some of the benefits of using most wearables for sleep monitoring include improved sleep quality, increased energy levels, enhanced athletic performance as well as being helpful for identifying sleep problems, such as sleep apnea and insomnia. By tracking sleep patterns over time, users can identify trends and make informed decisions about their sleep habits, such as adjusting bedtime or reducing caffeine intake.


Power napping, or taking short, 20-30 minute naps during the day, has been shown to improve productivity and cognitive function. Studies have found that power napping can improve memory consolidation, enhance creativity, and reduce fatigue. Additionally, power napping can help to improve mood and reduce stress. However, it is important to note that in order to experience these benefits, power naps must be performed correctly. This means that naps should be kept short, ideally no longer than 30 minutes, and should be timed strategically, ideally in the early afternoon when the body's natural circadian rhythm experiences a dip in alertness. Power napping can be a powerful tool for improving productivity and cognitive function, as long as it is performed correctly.


Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, and it is important to note that while sleep tracking devices can provide useful insights, they should not replace medical advice or treatment for sleep problems.


Rest up and sleep well my friends.



References:

  1. National Sleep Foundation. (2022). Stages of Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/stages-of-sleep

  2. Fitbit. (2022). How Fitbit Tracks Your Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.fitbit.com/sleep-tracking

  3. Oura Ring. (2022). How Oura Works. Retrieved from https://ouraring.com/how-it-works

  4. American Sleep Association. (2022). Sleep Stages. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/stages-of-sleep/

  5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2020). Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep

  6. St-Onge, M.-P. (2017). Sleep-obesity relation: underlying mechanisms and consequences for treatment. Obesity Reviews, 18(S1), 34-39. doi: 10.1111/obr.12499

  7. Patel, S. R., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review. Obesity, 16(3), 643-653. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.77

  8. Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., . . . Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation's updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health, 1(4), 233-243. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2015.10.004

  9. Lee, J. M., Byun, J., Kim, E. J., Kim, H. J., Kim, Y. J., & Kim, K. J. (2018). The effect of smartphone-based, self-monitored acupressure on stress, sleep quality, and fatigue: a single-blind randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 24(2), 156-163. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0066

  10. Suh, S., Kim, H., Lee, H. J., Cho, E. R., & Kwon, M. (2019). Sleep tracking technologies and sleep disturbances: A systematic review. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 46, 27-36. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.02.004

  11. Patel, S. R., Hayes, A. L., Blackwell, T., Evans, D. S., Ancoli-Israel, S., Wing, Y.-K., . . . Redline, S. (2012). The association between sleep patterns and obesity in older adults. International Journal of Obesity, 36(12), 1532-1538. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.9

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