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Brain Wave Cycles and a Good Night’s Sleep

Most people don’t think of their level of brain activity when they sleep.  However, your brain activity actually controls how long and how well you sleep.  The generically accepted idea of the perfect night’s sleep is seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for an adult.  Surprisingly, this convention is incorrect.  The amount of sleep that an individual requires every night is actually based on the number of ninety minute sleep cycles that you go through a night, mandated by your brain wave activity.  If given the opportunity to sleep without the added distraction of an alarm clock or other interruptions, the average person would wake after sleeping in multiples of ninety minutes.  These ninety minute cycles are broken up into five different phases using your brain wave cycles.

When you are Awake

Our awakened state where we are alert is associated with the Beta wave. This brain wave cycle is not associated with the phases of our Sleep Cycle. The first phase of the cycle begins with the Alpha waves of the brain.  This is the point when you have just lain down and are beginning to relax as your body prepares for sleep.  At this point your eyes are closed, your muscles are relaxing, and the speed of your breathing is starting to gradually decrease.

Theta Waves, Delta Waves and R.E.M Sleep

From here you move into the second phase where the Theta waves drift you into a lightened sleep state. As the Theta waves guide you through this light sleep phase, they transition into the Delta waves, the third phase, inducing a deep sleep state. All three of these cycles should average just around sixty-five minutes before your brain moves into what is referred to as R.E.M. or Rapid Eye Movement sleep.  The R.E.M. phase, phase 4, is where we dream on an average time of about 20 minutes.  It’s actually very important to your memory process to achieve R.E.M. sleep.  During R.E.M. sleep your brain takes the memories that you have accumulated from the day before and turns them into long-term memories. Without achieving R.E.M. sleep, all or some part of your memories from the day before can be lost.

The More Natural the Process of Sleep, the Better You Sleep

The final, phase 5, is returning you back to light sleep, or Theta waves which are averaged around five minutes in length.  The conclusion of the fifth phase brings the average ninety minute sleep cycle to a close, allowing the process to start over again for an unspecified amount of times as you continue to sleep.  Allowing your body to achieve and continue through this process is what results in having a good night’s sleep, not the number of hours involved.  The more natural you allow your process of sleep to be, the more frequently you should enjoy a good night’s sleep and feel well rested in the morning.