It's no accident that we spend a third of our lives asleep. Like the rest of the animal kingdom, we humans need sleep for our overall health and well-being. Restorative Sleep is particularly important during our nights of sleep.
What is Restorative Sleep?
Many people recognize that sleep is important to health.
In fact, our bodies need to sleep in order to perform rejuvenating functions like muscle growth, protein synthesis, tissue repair, and even learning new things. The sleep phases when our bodies and minds undergo the most renewal (Deep and REM sleep) are collectively referred as Restorative Sleep.
So what are these sleep phases that make up Restorative Sleep - Deep and REM?
Deep Sleep: Super for Healing and Growth
During Deep sleep, our breathing rate and blood pressure decrease, and we enter Slow Wave sleep, when our brain waves become slow and large. This sleep phase is important for physical and emotional restoration. During Deep sleep, the body releases growth hormones for healing and growth, while the immune system strengthens and renews itself.
If you lose one whole night of sleep, your body will try to make up its Deep sleep the next night by increasing the amount of Deep sleep you get. If you're only partially sleep deprived (for example, getting 6 hours a night instead of 7 or 8), you won't get more Deep sleep the next night, but recent research suggests that the Deep sleep you do get will be "deeper."
This catch-up effort could indicate that Deep sleep is relatively more important than other sleep phases, as your body attempts to ensure that you get enough of it.
REM Sleep: Good for Your Memory
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a mentally active phase of sleep when our most vivid dreams occur.
During REM sleep, our bodies function nearly the same as when we're awake, except that most of our muscles have shut down. This phase of sleep is essential for memory formation and storage, as well as for emotional processing. Studies have shown that REM sleep helps us to learn and develop new skills.
When Do You Get the Most Restorative Sleep?
Deep sleep occurs mostly within the first third of the night, while REM sleep occurs mostly within the final third of the night. This means that, in order to get the Restorative sleep your body needs, you should be getting to bed at the right times and waking up in the morning with a consistent and healthy schedule.
Sometimes Deep and REM sleep can be affected by what we do during the day, such as drinking caffeine or alcohol, or by exercising. So be sure to keep an eye out for any sleep stealers that could be chipping away at Restorative sleep.
Sleep well, and feel better through the power of Restorative Sleep.