While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey
We spend about half our sleeping time in stage 2. It can last up to 50 minutes during the first 90-minute sleep cycle, and less during subsequent cycles.
During this time the brain consolidates the information that has been collected during the waking hours. It makes connections you might not make otherwise. It also curates which memories to keep and which to delete.
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One of the areas of the brain that’s most active during dreaming is the amygdala - the part of the brain associated with the survival instinct and the fight-or-flight response.
One theory suggests dreams may be the brain’s way of getting you ready to deal with a threat. Fortunately, the brainstem sends out nerve signals during REM sleep that relax your muscles. That way you don’t try to run or punch in your sleep.
One theory for why we dream is that it helps facilitate our creative tendencies.
Without the logic filter, you might normally use in your waking life that can restrict your creative flow, your thoughts and ideas have no restrictions when you’re sleeping.
About 80% of our sleeping is of the SWS variety, identified by slow brain waves, relaxed muscles and deep breathing.
Deep sleep is important for the consolidation of memories. New experiences get moved to long-term storage and less important experiences from the previous day get cleared out.
Dreaming accounts for 20% of our sleeping time.
The length of dreams can vary from a few seconds to almost an hour. During REM sleep, the brain is highly active. The muscles are paralyzed, and the heart rate increases. Breathing can become erratic.
Although eight hours is the common mention, optimum sleep can vary from person to person and from age to age.
One review that worked through 320 research articles concluded 7 - 9 hours of sleep are enough for adults. According to experts, too little or too much sleep can both have a negative impact on your health.
Sleepwalking is known as somnambulism. It's classified as an abnormal behavior during sleep that's disruptive.
The handbook for mental health professionals, the DSM-IV, defines sleepwalking by the following criteria:
During the first third of sleep, your body is in non-REM - your deepest stage of sleep. Your brain quiets down and you aren't dreaming. Your body is active, and you tend to toss and turn.
People usually sleepwalk during the first third of their sleep pattern. Sleepwalking episodes can last from a few seconds to half an hour. Sleepwalkers can perform many activities, from walking around to driving a car or playing an instrument.
People used to think that sleepwalkers acted out their dreams. However, sleepwalking occurs during the deepest stages of sleep when you are not dreaming.