Sleep is scientific, and sleep is emotional, and is different for every single person. It’s the time your body repairs and renews, so that you are ready for the new day’s challenges when the alarm goes off. You spend about 1/3 of your life ‘punching zzzzzzz’, so make sure it’s healthy sleep in order to reap the benefits. The Stages of Sleep Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) – This type of sleep accounts for more than 75% of your total sleep time, on average. Your brain rests, but your body may be active Rapid Eye Movement (REM) – REM sleep is the stage of sleep in which the brain is most active, but for most people also causes the body to be inactive. Most of your dreams happen in REM sleep. You appear electrically (on electroencephalography) similarly to when you are awake. The sleep cycle occurs once every 100 minutes, and is totally regulated by you. Healthy sleep needs all of the stages: Stage N1 (NREM) – myoclonic jerk phase – When you are drifting off, your body may twitch as your muscles release excess energy (myoclonic jerks), and you wake up easily to noises and other sensations (sometimes mixing up the dream and real life while you are falling asleep – like a ‘dream’ that you trip while walking, and this actually jolts you awake) Stage N2 (NREM) – Your brain actively inhibits processing, and you begin to lose awareness of your surroundings. Stage N3 (NREM) – Sleep walking and bedwetting phase This deep sleep only occupies about 5% of your sleep time. Most night terrors, sleepwalking, and bed wetting occur during this stage. Stage N4 (NREM) – extremely important for healthy sleep Stage four is an even deeper form of sleep than stage three. Your brain slows down and is allowed to rest. Stage R or Stage 5 (REM) – Categorised by the rapid movements of the eye, this stage of sleep is the transitional stage. It is common to have dreams in this phase. “Sleep when you’re dead?? So, who cares about healthy sleep? Surely we should live life to the fullest and not waste time sleeping?” Well, sleep is about more than recharging your body for the next day’s activities. Healthy sleep actually dictates almost all parts of your life, simply because sleep has a large number of functions. So, we really can’t survive without it! During sleeping, the growth hormone’s level in the body spikes, and the immune system is also affected. Proteins synthesis occurs and hormones are ‘balanced’. Without sleep, you can’t grow and heal. That’s a major reason why children need more sleep than adults, and why you feel tired when you are injured, or not well. The brain also builds and repairs itself to better adapt, based on what you’ve been experiencing over the past few days. Your memory needs sleep. Studies have shown that retention of material greatly increases with a good night’s sleep, and some scientists even argue that long-term memory is not possible without healthy sleep. Basically, without sleep, your body is tired and you can’t physically function. And tossing and turning all night means your mind is tired and you can’t mentally function. It also also can cause you to overreact to situations because you aren’t thinking clearly or become ill because your immune system isn’t working to its full potential. Mood is affected, leaving you irritable, stressed and easily angered. You risk gaining weight because of the lack of hormone production that would have been triggered. Lack of sleep has also been linked to the onset of diabetes and cardiovascular issues (your blood pressure also drops when you sleep, which means a lack of good quality sleep puts you at risk for a heart attack or stroke) So remember, the sleep you get needs to be healthy in order for your body to reap the benefits. That means that you should be getting longer periods of deep sleep, especially in the beginning of the night. If that isn’t reason enough to take a look at your sleep pattern and how it is affecting your wellbeing, and your recovery from injury, well I don’t know what is….