It's NOT about catching up on sleep time but the lack of non-rem sleep that affects your day.
More than that, the more you deprive yourself of such a state of sleep, the faster you age.
So to better understand about quality of sleep, let's begin with your brain.
Your brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons.
Neurons fire electrical impulses all the time. These electrical currents can be measured using an EEG machine (EEG).
The EEG shows up these currents as wave-like patterns called brainwaves (see below).
Brain waves change in shape depending on what we are thinking and doing. By looking at your brainwaves, one can determine the state of consciousness you are in.
Brainwaves are measured as frequency in cycles per second (hertz).
There are four common types of brain wave patterns - Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. Beta, being the fastest, is associated with being awake and active; delta, being the slowest frequency, is associated with sleep.
Recently, new technology has led to the detection of a new brain wave pattern called gamma brain waves.
Gamma brainwaves are produced during moments when your brain is processing information at high level or when you experience bursts of precognition and higher states of consciousness.
The Gamma brain wave state corresponds to frequencies of 40Hz or higher.
At any point in our awake state, our brain cycles in all of these four patterns except for delta waves which appear in sleep. However, there always exist one dominant wave pattern for each moment.
For example, when you are awake, you are most of the time in beta state. You find yourself in a dominant alpha state during moments when you are reading or at rest.
Your brain waves can be manipulated, and chances are that you are interfering with your brain waves every single day. External conditions such as your job or the environment also affect your brainwaves everyday
Your lifestyle choices such as what you drink and work as well as your attitudes towards problems and stress influence your brain waves.
What is interesting to note is by the reading of this wave patterns on EEG, one can tell if you are in an anxious/angry state, relax and creative state or in a deep sleep state.
Thus, one can tell if you have been deprived of enough quality deep sleep - enough delta sleep that allows for your body and mind to re-center, revitalize, re-balance, regenerate, rejuvenate and recuperate.
If you have forgotten how to sleep well, or have forgotten how to relax and focus, learn to identify and recognise these brain states.
Try to observe what activities of mind and actions that keep hanging onto these states.
Being fully aware of how these activities keep you from the much need rest, apply beginning efforts to undo your habitual modes of thought and actions.
Your brainwaves will entrain to your directed energy of thought and actions.
Once you become habitually accustomed to shifting brainwaves, producing at will becomes natural and spontaneous.
Have you ever wondered why meditators are more alert, more calm and more aware than those who aren't. They know how to access brainwave states at will as a result of years of practice.
But you need not wait years to achieve that.
Advances in Science and neurotechnology have caught up with ancient and traditional ways of learning and benefiting from managing our brainwaves!
Your sleep is not passive as you presume to be, assuming you sleep well all the time. You are as much awake in your sleep even if part of your brain is shut down!
Experiments using electroencephalography (EEG) show the brainwave patterns that the normal person goes through.
We cycle through 5 stages of sleep.
These five stages can be group into two sleep patterns:
Rem sleep refers to the rapid eye movement that is characteristic of our sleep when we are dreaming.
Non-rem sleep is that stage of deep sleep (delta state) that supports the body to carry out its restorative work.
There is misconception that alludes the cause of not getting adequate sleep to dreaming a lot at night.
This is further from the truth!
Dream sleep (rem sleep) is as neccessary as non-rem sleep for your health and wellness.
During the first few hours hours of your sleep episode, your body spends longer duration in non-rem sleep than in rem sleep.
This phase of sleep is the time when your sleep is deep.
This phase facilitates cell renewable and cell repairs.
It is the state of rejuvenation.
Unknown to many, if you fall into this deep phase of non-rem sleep between the hours of 1am and 3am, you bask your body, mind and spirit in showers of rejuvenation.
In the last hours of your sleep before awakening, your body needs little non-rem sleep time.
You enter more time in rem sleep (dream sleep).
In rem sleep, your eyes move a lot even when closed. Hence, it's called "rapid eye movement", or rem sleep for short.
Dream sleep releases stress signals and other unexpressed physical, mental and emotional blocks that occur during our waking state.
Hence, the frequency and extent of REM sleep has much to do with your lifestyle and demands you placed in your life.
Our sleep cycles of rem and non-rem have their proper place in wellness of our body, mind and spirit.
People who achieve little non-rem sleep affect negatively the body's ability to release growth and other hormones to restore and rejuvenate the body.
Furthermore, experiments carried out reveal that waking up a person from their rem sleep each time contributes to behaviours of irritability and pychological problems.
Our sleep begins with a waking stage known as 'relaxed wakefulness'. This is the prelude to the five stages of sleep.
A person begins to feel sleepy, muscles start to relax and release stress, and eyes begin to droop or roll. Now, the sleeper is just about to enter Stage 1 sleep.
Stage 1 sleep, the first of five sleep stages is a state of drowsiness.
The eyes have closed and the sleeper, if awakened during this sleep stage, often insists they were not asleep.
Stage 1 sleep lasts about five to ten minutes.
Stage 2 sleep occurs next.
During this light sleep, polysomnographic (PSG) reading, a test used to study sleep, indicates peaks and valleys in brain wave activity.
The cause is that muscles are alternately tensing and relaxing. At this stage, the heart rate slows and the body temperature drops slightly.
Stage 2 sleep usually lasts for about 20 minutes.
Stage 3 sleep (non-REM sleep) is the first phase of deep sleep.
Here, a minimum of 20% but not more than 50% of the brain waves seen on an electroencephalogram (EEG) are 2 cycles per second or slower and high-amplitude delta brain waves of more than 75 millivolts occur.
This state is called slow wave sleep (SWS). It is sometimes not differentiated from Stage 4 sleep since the two are very similar.
Stage 3 makes up about 6% of the total sleep time.
Stage 4 sleep is also non-REM sleep much like Stage 3.
This stage of sleep takes up about 15% of total sleep time. If a person is prone to sleepwalking, night terrors, or sleep-related bed wetting, this is when these events usually occur.
Stage 5 sleep is REM sleep.
However, stage 5 is not usually reached by moving sequentially through the five stages of sleep.
REM sleep begins between 90 and 120 minutes after falling asleep. However, stage 2 and 3 repeat themselves again, in most cases, before stage 5 takes place.
Therefore, the order of sleep stages are:
Stage 5, characterised as REM sleep is a period when the eyes move rapidly. The brainwave readings are very much like Stage 1 patterns.
During this phase, heart rate rises, breathing speeds up and may become somewhat irregular, and parts of the body such as fingers, feet, legs, arms, or face may twitch during some parts of Stage 5 sleep.
It is during this increased brain activity in REM sleep that intense dreams occur.
REM sleep is often called paradoxical sleep.
During some portions of REM sleep, paralysis occurs in major muscle groups while other periods involve movement.
REM is a mixture of brain states ranging from excitement to complete paralysis.
Researchers believe the paralysis is the body's way of preventing acting out of vivid dreams, potentially causing injury or death.
Phasing in of first Stage 5 of a typical 7 to 8 hour sleep episode lasts for about 10 minutes.
Each time REM sleep returns, it lasts longer, and people who are getting sufficient sleep usually experience REM stage sleep for about an hour during the last REM portion of the sleep episode.
After REM sleep has completed, the sleeper will repeat the five stages of sleep in cycles throughout the sleep episode. During a single night, a person may experience as many as five sleep cycles.
So what's the secret to looking youthful and revitalized?
It's getting no more than 1 hour of deep delta sleep (non-rem sleep) spread out throughout your sleep cycle.
And if you, like many people, have problem with getting this quality sleep, there is help.
Read about our review of Brain Evolution System.