Updated: Mar 14
Sleep is an important part of our daily routine that helps to repair and restore our bodies and minds. During sleep, the body goes through a series of stages that are characterised by different brain wave patterns and levels of muscle activity. Understanding these stages can help us better understand how sleep works and how to get a good night's rest.
There are four main stages of sleep: stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, and stage 4. In addition, there is a fifth stage known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. These stages progress in a cycle from stage 1 through REM sleep and then back to stage 1 again. A typical sleep cycle lasts about 90-110 minutes and a person typically goes through 4-5 cycles per night.
Here is a brief overview of each stage:
Stage 1: This is the lightest stage of sleep and it is the transition between being awake and falling asleep. During this stage, the brain produces alpha and theta waves and the muscles start to relax. It is common to experience sudden muscle contractions or "twitches" during this stage.
Stage 2: This is a deeper stage of sleep and it is characterised by the production of sleep spindles and K-complexes in the brain. Heart rate and body temperature start to decrease and the muscles relax even more.
Stage 3: This is the beginning of deep sleep and it is characterised by the production of slow brain waves called delta waves. Blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature continue to decrease and the muscles are fully relaxed. It is more difficult to wake a person during this stage of sleep and if they are awakened, they may feel disoriented or groggy.
Stage 4: This is the deepest stage of sleep and it is characterised by even slower brain waves called delta waves. It is difficult to wake a person during this stage and if they are awakened, they may feel disoriented or confused.
REM sleep: This is the stage of sleep when most dreaming occurs. The brain becomes more active and produces rapid eye movements and rapid brain waves. The muscles become paralysed, which prevents a person from acting out their dreams. Blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature increase during this stage and it is easier to wake a person.
It is important to get a good balance of all the stages of sleep in order to feel rested and rejuvenated in the morning. If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, it may be helpful to talk to a doctor or a sleep specialist to determine the cause and find a solution.
Sleep is important for everyone, but it is especially important for individuals diagnosed with a cancer. Here are some reasons why:
Restores energy: Sleep helps restore energy levels, which can be depleted during the day. This can be especially important for those undergoing treatment for a brain tumour, as treatments can be physically and emotionally draining.
Promotes healing: Sleep is an important time for the body to heal and repair itself. During sleep, the body produces cytokines, which are natural substances that help fight infection and inflammation.
Improves mental health: Sleep helps improve mood and cognitive function, which can be affected by the stress of a brain tumour diagnosis.
Enhances immune system: Sleep is also important for maintaining a healthy immune system, which can be especially important for those undergoing treatment for a brain tumour.
Reduces stress: Sleep helps reduce stress and anxiety levels, which can be elevated during a brain tumour diagnosis.
It is recommended that individuals diagnosed with cancer aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
This may require making changes to sleep habits, such as creating a sleep-conducive environment and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime.
If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist for advice.