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The Importance of the Different Stages of Sleep

August 3, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — pontevedra @ 6:39 pm
Woman sleeping in bed.

It may not seem like it, but there’s actually quite a lot going on inside of your body when you’re asleep. Every night, your brain needs to cycle through four distinct stages of sleep for you to receive the benefits of a good night’s rest. However, things like sleep apnea can interfere with this and cause you some serious problems! Here’s a closer look at these different stages of sleep and why each one is important for your overall wellness.

The Early Stages: Light Sleep

During the first stage of light sleep, your eye movements gradually become slower as you drift off to sleep. In this stage, your body is still alert and certain noises and stimuli can disturb you; however, this stage usually only lasts a few minutes before you enter the next stage of light sleep.

Once you enter the next stage, your brain will begin to produce special brainwaves called sleep spindles. These spindles help to prevent you from being woken up early. In this state, you’re still lightly asleep—and will remain so for roughly half of the entire sleep cycle.

The Later Stages: Deep Sleep & REM

However, once you finally reach the deep sleep state, it’s more difficult for your body to be stirred. This is where the awesome restorative benefits of sleep kick in—your body will begin to repair damaged muscle and tissue while producing protective cytokines (small proteins), which help the immune system and also restore the energy level of your cells.

Finally, your body will enter the last stage of the sleep cycle: REM, which stands for rapid eye movement. This is characterized by the eyeballs quickly moving and twitching in various directions underneath the eyelids. Though this might seem strange, it’s actually a good thing—it signals that your brain is processing and consolidating new information that it learned from the previous day. This process is crucial for memory retention. Your body can experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure during REM, as well as shallow breathing, but this is perfectly normal and healthy. After REM sleep is complete, your body will start the cycle over and repeat it until you wake up!

The Importance of Uninterrupted Sleep

Needless to say, your body greatly benefits from getting enough rest! But if you’re constantly waking up during the night, you’re limiting your body’s time in the deep and REM stages of the sleep cycle. Since these stages are the most important for restoring your body’s energy and maintaining proper brain function, your physical and mental health are in jeopardy if you don’t regularly enter deep and REM sleep. These stages are also especially important for the development of children and teenagers.

Unfortunately, conditions like sleep apnea can interfere with the body’s ability to recover every night. Obstructive sleep apnea causes a restriction of airflow in your throat, so your body must partially wake up to restore normal respiration. This means your brain is kicked out of its sleep cycle and doesn’t spend the time it needs in the later stages—not to mention, you’ll be at risk for all sorts of issues including fatigue, stress, hypertension, and more.

And sadly, millions of people miss out on countless hours of sleep every night because of this condition! That said, if you’re concerned about how sleep apnea might be affecting your ability to rest, don’t hesitate to speak with your sleep dentist about treatment.

About the Practice

Ponte Vedra Complete Dentistry proudly serves patients and families in the Ponte Vedra Beach area under the leadership of Dr. Kristopher Harth and Dr. Eric Townsend. Together they combine several years of experience to provide their patients with an exceptional level of dental care. Their practice is pleased to offer many available services including sleep apnea therapy. Feel free to reach out online or over the phone with any questions you might have or to schedule an appointment. Telephone: (904) 285-7711.

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