Sleep, are you getting enough? Part 1

Sleep, are you getting enough? Part 1

Written by Allie Might, FMC, INHC, ATT

The subject of sleep always seems to be on everyone’s minds, and with our busy day-to-day lives, it’s no wonder this is such a hot topic. We all know that we need sleep and that it’s important, but why? What exactly is sleep and does quality of sleep matter?†

So what exactly is sleep? Well, defines it as “Sleep is a state where awareness to environmental stimuli is reduced. Sleep is different from states of coma, hibernation and death by the fact that it can be rapidly reversed”. It also cites the two phases of sleep as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM).† 
According to the information from, there are four stages that make up these phases of sleep. The first three stages are incorporated in the NREM phase.†


Stage 1: The first stage is light sleep and makes up for 5% of our sleep. This is where we are relaxed and “drifting off” to sleep.†

Stage 2: The second stage is deeper sleep and makes up for 45% of sleep. In this phase, our muscles are relaxed and the brain has shown periods of slowing down and then bursts of activity. It is believed that this is helpful for the memory. † 

Stage 3: The final stage in the NREM sleep phase is the deepest sleep. While we spend 25% of sleep here, a lot of interesting things can happen here. This is where some people may experience such phenomenon as sleep-walking or night terrors. It is also here where the body has a “healing process” and it can rejuvenate cells and strengthen the immune system.† 

Stage 4: Lastly is the only stage that is part of the REM phase. This is commonly known as the dreaming stage and makes up 25% of our sleep. This is of course where we experience dreams and nightmares. The brain is closer to awakeness in this phase and you may notice one’s eyes moving around even though they are closed. Interestingly, our heart rate and breathing have a tendency to also increase in the phase as well. It is suggested by experts studying these phases that going through both NREM and REM cycles may be helpful for memory consolidation.†


The effects of sleep have been studied and show both the importance of getting proper sleep as well as the problems that may arise from continuous lack of sleep. A study titled “Short- and Long-Term Health Consequences of Sleep Disruption” by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, takes an in depth look at the effects the lack of sleep could have on us. This article outlines the importance of sleep on our health and well-being, both with short term and long term sleep disruption. Short term effects include, but are not limited to, increased stress, memory and cognitive issues, lower performance and behavioral problems. Long term effects may include an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and weight gain. As you can see, there is evidence showing why it is so important to get consistent and the proper amount of sleep.†



The amount of sleep that is recommended always seems to be up for debate. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes it easy as they’ve supplied the chart below on their website outlining the recommended amount of sleep per age group:†

Sleep recommendations by age group.† 
Age Group Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day
Newborn 0–3 months 14–17 hours (National Sleep Foundation) (1)
No recommendation (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) (2)
Infant 4–12 months 12–16 hours per 24 hours (including naps) (2)
Toddler 1–2 years 11–14 hours per 24 hours (including naps) (2)
Preschool 3–5 years 10–13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) (2)
School Age 6–12 years 9–12 hours per 24 hours (2)
Teen 13–18 years 8–10 hours per 24 hours (2)
Adult 18–60 years 7 or more hours per night (3)
61–64 years 7–9 hours (1)
65 years and older 7–8 hours


♦I few tips I’ve learned along the way may also be helpful. I not only like to recommend these, but also use them myself.†

♦Try 5-10 minutes of quiet time or meditation before bed†

♦Discontinue electronic about an hour before bed†

♦No TV at bedtime†

♦Journal before bed, write down any thoughts to “get them out” to clear your mind†

♦Keep a routine as much as possible, whether it’s a workday or weekend†

♦I hope these tips help you to start getting a more restful and proper sleep.†






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