Sleep: Are You Getting Enough?
Why is sleep so critical to our well-being? If resting in bed were all it took to recharge body and mind for the coming day, insomniacs could take in their favorite late night television and start the next day fresh. But surprisingly, it's not how much sleep you get that's important—it's the level of sleep you achieve that truly restores you, body and mind.
Sleep can be divided into two crucial phases:
- Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep takes up about 75% of the average dreamer's night. The earliest phase of NREM sleep begins with general relaxation of muscles. This relaxed state eventually culminates in the deepest sleep level when it appears that protein synthesis, growth hormones, immune function, and the mind are given a boost. Delta waves—the slowest and largest waves—signal the onset of this most rejuvenating sleep level.
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep takes up about 25% of an average sleeper's night. Dreams that occur during REM sleep might provide, in a sense, a sorting through of free-floating information. REM sleep is thought to be a very important period for mental revitalization.
In addition to productivity and safety consequences, research shows that people who have insomnia or are chronically sleep deprived may be more likely to have an increased risk of:
People who do not get enough sleep may also:
- Have behavioral problems (especially in children)
- Drink more alcohol and use more sedatives than they usually do
- Experience a decreased enjoyment in life
Last reviewedMay 2012by Peter J. Lucas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.