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Healthy Habits: What you should know about sleep

Mar. 05, 2013 @ 01:28 PM

National Sleep Week is March 3-10, and to celebrate Healthy Habits 2013 is focusing on the importance of sleep throughout the month of March.

Sleep is essential for good health and if we do not get an adequate amount of it, sleep can greatly influence our waking hours. Most days, seven to eight hours of sleep is an adequate amount of sleep for many adults. There are adults who may need as little as five hours of sleep and others who need as much as 10 hours per day. Teenagers need an average of nine hours, while infants require 16 hours of sleep a day.

Here’s a quick overview of the five phases of sleep:

  • Stage 1 is characterized as a light state of sleep where we are drifting in and out and are easily awakened. In this stage, our eyes move very slowly and muscle activity slows.
  • During stage 2, our eye movements stop and our brain waves slow down. Fifty percent of our time is spent in stage 2 sleep.
  • During stage 3, brain waves become extremely low and are called “delta waves” with an occasional fast wave.
  • In stage 4, delta waves persist almost exclusively. When someone is in deep sleep and it is difficult to wake them, they are likely between stages 3 and 4.
  • When stage 5 REM sleep is achieved, breathing becomes more shallow, rapid and irregular. In this stage limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed, heart rate increases, and blood pressure rises. About 20 percent of sleep time is spent in REM.

Now that we know a little more about how sleep works, we’ll focus on sleep disturbances in next week’s feature.

Healthy Habits 2013 is a partnership among Cabell Huntington Hospital, Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and St. Mary’s Medical Center. We are a community working together to improve our health. Our goal is a simple one: to inform and encourage area residents on ways to improve their health. Join our conversation and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/healthyhabits2013.