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The Importance of Sleep

The Importance of Sleep 

We all know what sleep is and that it is important for us, but you may not know as much about sleep as you think you do. Sleep is a state that the mind and body goes into where you have altered consciousness, decreased sensory activity, decreased muscle activity, inhibition of most of your voluntary muscles, and a decreased ability to react to stimuli. 

Stages of Sleep:

Not all sleep is the same. As you sleep your body and brain go through different stages of sleep. Here is a breakdown of the different stages. Sleep is broken down into 2 main types, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and non-REM sleep, which is then broken down into 3 separate stages. 

Stage 1:

stage 1 of non-REM sleep is the transition from being awake to being asleep. This is a short stage of sleep that only lasts a few minutes, and you are only in a very light sleep. During this stage your breathing, heart rate, and eye movements start to slow. Your muscles start to relax, and as they are doing this they may twitch occasionally. Your brainwaves start to slow and change from their normal daytime wakefulness patterns. 

Stage 2:

stage 2 of non-REM sleep is still a light sleep stage, that is preparing you to enter a deep sleep. This stage usually lasts between 10-60 minutes. During this stage your breathing and heart rate slow even further than what they did in stage one, your eyes stop moving completely, and your body temperature drops. During this stage your brain waves spike and fall, and it is believed that this pattern of brain waves helps to develop your cortex in your brain, and to consolidate your memories. 

Stage 3:

stage 3 is the final stage of non-REM sleep, and is when you finally enter a deep sleep. This stage usually lasts between 20-40 minutes, and you spend more time in this stage of sleep during the first half of the night. As you continue sleeping for longer this stage will progressively get shorter, as you spend more time in REM sleep. During this stage your breathing and heart rate slow even more, to the lowest levels during your sleep, and your muscles are extremely relaxed. It is harder to wake someone in this stage of sleep.  This stage of sleep is the most important for getting a deep and restful night’s sleep. This is the stage of sleep where your body recovers and grows, and helps to strengthen your immune system and other body processes. 

Stage 4:

stage 4 is also known as rapid eye movement sleep, or REM sleep. During this stage of sleep your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind your closed eyelids. Your brain activity increases and becomes more similar to what is seen during wakefulness. Your breathing rate increases and becomes irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. This is the stage of sleep where most of your dreaming occurs. Your arm and leg muscles are paralysed during this stage to prevent you from acting out your dreams. REM sleep is important for functions such as memory, learning, and creativity. You first enter REM sleep at about 90 minutes into your sleep. After that, the REM stages progressively get longer throughout the night. 

Why sleep is important:

I’m sure we’re all aware of how important sleep is. You can feel the difference in how your brain and body feels between a good and a bad night’s sleep. Sleep is important for the brain as it gives it time to rest. This is need so it able to function correctly when you are awake. If you do not give your brain enough time to rest, you will notice a decrease in your brain’s ability to function properly. It can make it hard to concentrate properly, and can even affect your mood, making you more grumpy and irritable. It is also important for brain plasticity, which is your brain’s ability to change and adapt to any input that it receives. As discussed above, sleep is important for consolidating your memories, and for improving your functions of memory, learning, and creativity. 

It’s not just your brain that needs sleep, but so does your body. Sleep is when your body takes the time to grow and heal. Getting a good night’s sleep is also important for maintaining your immune system and your metabolism. Not getting enough sleep can lead to issues such as lowered immunity, headaches, high blood pressure, increased risk of infection, depression, lower libido, and weight gain. 

Sleep importance and Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care can help with your sleep in a few ways. The first way is by decreasing pain levels. If you are in pain, it can make it a lot harder to get to sleep, and to have a good quality, deep sleep. Spinal pain especially can make it very hard to get comfortable in order to fall asleep. Chiropractic care looks after the health of your spine (as well as the other joints of your body). By improving the health of your spine, this usually results in decreased pain levels, making it much more comfortable for you to be able to sleep. 

The other way chiropractic helps is by looking after your nervous system. Your spine and your nervous system are closely related. Hence why, if your spine isn’t moving correctly, this can affect the function of your nervous system. If your nervous system is being interfered with and not functioning correctly, this can impact its ability to be able to wind down and prepare your body and brain for sleep. Chiropractors are able to remove this interference and improve nervous system function, so that your brain and body are able to communicate properly, and are able to prepare for a good night’s sleep. Many people notice the importance of improvements to their sleep after getting adjusted, why not try it for yourself!