Chrissy's Q&A is a bi-weekly feature from Apex Performance Integration's assistant coach, Chrissy Mangold. If you have a question, feel free to submit it in the comments below!
What is sleep? Sleep is a condition of body and mind that typically recurs for several hours every night, in which eyes are closed, the postural muscles relaxed, the activity of the brain altered, and consciousness of the surroundings practically suspended.
I have heard people say, “ I will sleep when I die.” Well, let me tell you, that mindset is going to get you there quicker.
So why is sleep so important? Sleep is our body's way of healing from all the stresses of our daily lives. You can think of sleep as someone coming in to clean house. First, let me explain the three stages of sleep, and why each stage is so important. The normal person will cycle 4-6 times in these stages through the night.
Light sleep is when our body enters into a more subdued state and our body temperature starts to drop, our breathing slows down and so does the heart rate. What is happening is our brain activity slows, but there are small bursts of activity that help us from being woken by external stimuli. Light sleep prepares our body for deep sleep. This stage can last 10-25 minutes during your first cycle and become longer during the night. Light sleep is a key stage of sleep that delivers benefits to your brain and body. It's also important for memory, learning, and motor skills.
Deep sleep is the most crucial stage of restorative sleep. During this time your heart rate and breathing rate slow down even more. This is when your brain and body start repairing themselves. The body repairs and regrows tissue builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. This allows us to slow our metabolism and conserve energy for the next day. Research has shown it clears out toxins from our brains. This stage can last 20-40 minutes at a time. Deep sleep is usually longer and earlier in the night. Most people who don’t get enough deep sleep will feel groggy the next day. It can lead to forgetfulness and poor retention of memories. It may also cause hypertension (high blood pressure), and mood changes. It is very hard to wake up from this stage.
REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is where most dreams happen. It is important for mood, memories, and learning. Brain activity during REM is very similar to when we are awake. REM is the opposite of deep sleep as it becomes longer towards the end of the night into the morning.
That's all for now. I hope this has brought some clarity to why sleep is important. Stay tuned for part two where I'll talk about ways to help promote better sleep!