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The Stages And Importance Of Sleep

Sleep, sometimes we believe, is not necessary – a complete waste of time and causes unproductivity.

Quite similar to what InterActiveCorp (IAC) CEO Joey Levin told Business Insider at its annual flagship conference IGNITION. According to Levin, sleep is something that you can do later as there more events or activities that are more important than it. The IAC CEO admitted that it ranks relatively low in his priority list despite acknowledging the necessity of sleep in everyday function.

We cannot bat an eyelid at Levin because, like him, we sometimes neglect it. More than 35 percent of American adults reported sleeping less than seven hours during a typical 24-hour period.

Slipping into Dreamland: The Stages

But sleep, like food and water, is essential to our well-being.

We devote around 30 percent of our lives sleeping – something that scientists’ years of research has yet to find out why. The endorsed number of hours of daily sleep is at seven to eight hours.

When we drift into a peaceful slumber, our body goes through five different stages of sleep every 90 to 110 minutes.

Stage #1: Introduction

The first stage usually takes a minute to seven minutes. This is the stage when our eyelids become heavy, and our head starts to drop as the brain produces alpha and theta waves. Alpha waves are the link between the conscious and subconscious thinking, while theta waves are connected to our deep and raw emotions.

Called “introduction into sleep,” the first stage is quite brief and is marked the slowing down of the brain activity, and the muscle begins to relax. At this stage, you can quickly get awake.

Stage #2: Beginning

The second stage is the “beginning of sleep” which also slows down the brain and muscle activity. When you are awakened on this stage, you become quickly alert and can engage in conversation easily.

Stage #3 & #4: Slow Wave

On the third and fourth stage or the “slow wave sleep,” deep sleep begins. The brain will start to produce delta waves which are the slowest recorded brain waves in human that lessen as we age. The body then becomes less receptive to outside stimuli. This is also the stage wherein the body restores muscles and tissues, invigorates growth and development, enhances immune function, and builds up energy.

Stage #5: Rapid Eye Movement

The final stage is the rapid eye movement sleep or REM sleep which you enter after about 90 minutes of initially falling asleep. Each REM stage can persist up to an hour with an average adult having about five to six REM cycles a night. In this stage, the brain is more lively, and dreaming occurs. It is called rapid eye movement sleep because the eyes move quickly in different directions. Aside from the eyes, the heart rate and blood pressure increase, breathing becomes fast, irregular, and shallow.

The stages of sleep are not constant and may occur in different durations at various ages.

Getting our Zzzz: The Importance

When we slip into dreamland for at least seven to eight hours, we protect our mental and physical health, quality of life and safety.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, our state while awake depends on our sleep. A good night sleep helps in the healthy brain function and emotional well-being, allowing us to think, work, react, socialize, learn, among others.

When you sleep, you allow your body to recuperate, repair heart and blood vessels, decrease the likelihood of obesity, maintain a right balance of hormones, body’s reaction to insulin, support growth, and development, and keep the immune system healthy.

Sleeping Your Way to Better Oral Health

A good quality sleep, at least seven to eight hours, also helps you achieve your most beautiful smile by warding off gum diseases and lessens the likelihood of bad breath, dry mouth, and canker sores.

According to research, sleep follows smoking as the most influential factor that increases the risk of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the surrounding tissues and supporting bones of the teeth which are classified into gingivitis or the mild form and periodontitis.

Gum disease causes gum inflammation and bleeding gums. Worst case periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and damage to the bones and tissues.

When we do not get the right amount of sleep, our immune system can weaken, and oral bacteria can invade our mouth at a pace that our immune system cannot keep up. Bacteria can build-up and lead to plaque and canker sores.

Canker sores are small, center lesions that usually appear on the soft tissues of the mouth or the base of the gums that can cause discomfort especially when speaking or eating. Stress and a weak immune system can attribute to the occurrence of the sores.

Aside from brushing and flossing, a good night sleep is essential in keeping our oral health in check. With a peaceful slumber, we will be more active, less stressed, and our body can function correctly.

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