Know your sleep cycle | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 08, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 08, 2018

Know your sleep cycle

Among all the activities that we are supposed to perform every day, sleeping is probably the favourite among most people. The way we interact with the idea of sleep is quite interesting. It evolves as we complete different stages of our lives.

When you were an infant, all you did was sleep around all day. Then you grew up to be old enough to understand what makes your mom angry – you not going to bed on time, but still not old enough to understand why you need to sleep. During your teen years, you love sleeping all of a sudden. You sleep through your morning lectures, you sleep through lunch, you basically sleep through anything and everything. Yet you probably still have no idea why sleeping is important or how much you should actually sleep.

A typical sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. During these 90 minutes, you will move through five stages of sleep. The first four stages make up your “Non-rapid Eye Movement” (NREM) sleep, and the fifth stage is called “Rapid Eye Movement” (REM) sleep. The NREM part of the sleep starts with Stage 1 when you are just going to sleep, down to the very deep sleep in Stage 4. It is very difficult to wake someone who is in Stage 4 sleep. During NREM sleep even though your eyes don't move, your muscles still have the ability to function, whereas REM is when you will experience the most amount of eye function but other muscles that help us move will remain inactive. Most people start dreaming at this stage of their sleep.

Your sleep cycle can be affected by factors like age, the amount of recent sleep, and other behaviours prior to sleep such as exercise, stress, environmental conditions such as temperature and light, and various chemicals.

While asked about different sleep cycles, Prof. Dr. Abu Nasir Rizvi, MBBS, MD, Professor at The Department of Neurology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said, “The sleep cycle of a newborn baby will be different from the sleep cycle of a grown up. A newborn baby should sleep for 18 hours a day and remain awake for only 6 hours, whereas the minimum amount of sleep that an adult needs can be achieved by 6 hours of sleep and maximum 10 hours, given they are leading a healthy lifestyle and are not overworked.”

The minimum hours a person needs to sleep also depends on the kind of profession they are in. The amount of sleep a day labourer needs will be significantly higher than that of an office worker. Since the body repairs and recharges itself during sleep, the more damage or fatigue, the more the body requires sleep.

So what actually happens if you don't maintain the sleep cycle according to your age and work? If you sleep too little it can cause consistent nightmares leading to epilepsy, diabetes etc. Since our body recovers from all the hard work it did all day during sleep, being disrupted in the middle of a sleep cycle can also cause headaches and lead to more stress being built up within the body eventually resulting in irritation, anger, and anxiety. Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep cycles can also leave you feeling tired all day. It disrupts your concentration and reduces your efficiency.

Even though it might seem like a first world problem, excessive sleeping is also a thing. Hypersomnia is the clinical term for excessive sleeping and sleepiness during the day. Sleeping too much is linked with many of the same health risks as sleeping too little, including heart disease, metabolic problems such as diabetes and obesity, and cognitive issues including difficulty with memory.

Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). But it doesn't end there. The effects of sleep cycle dive deep into a person's mental health.

When asked about how a person's sleep cycle affects their mental health, Dr. Samsad Begum, MBBS, DCM, MPSC (Psychiatry), said, “Sleep cycle is deeply related with a person's state of mind. A lack of sleep is seen in people who are depressed. At the same time, others use sleep as a coping mechanism. Especially teenagers, diagnosed with depression, spend most of their time sleeping. As a result, they suffer from mood swings and nausea.”

A disorderly sleep cycle can lead to a person facing frequent sleep paralysis in which the person wakes up during the REM phase of sleep but the muscles don't regain control until later. This is a direct result of stress and continuous neglect towards having a proper sleep schedule. Sleepwalking and sleeptalking are also similarly correlated with an unstable sleep cycle.

So before you take a sip of your 12th cup of coffee of the day and pull off another all-nighter or worse, sleep for 3 days straight because you can, don't do it.





2. between-you-and-me/201307/your-sleep-cycle-revealed


Megha sleeps and eats and sleeps again. Let her know if your schedule is any different at

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