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How does insomnia affect the sleep cycle? 

Insomnia has a very negative impact on your sleep and overall well-being. Because insomnia affects both the quality and quantity of sleep and alters your whole sleep cycle. But before discussing the effects of insomnia, you should know what is normal sleep and how it works.  Every one of us experiences poor sleep at times in our lives. But even after trying all the home remedies, we struggle a lot to fall asleep. There are medications and lifestyle hacks that can help you get better sleep.

What does a normal sleep cycle look like?

Sleep is an essential function to regulate your overall health and well-being. Because it allows your body and mind to recharge, repair, and restore energy to make you feel good. Quality sleep helps to stay healthy and counter health issues. Along with it is also important for proper functioning of the brain and good mental health.

Although sleep is one of the most important functions, it is very complex on its own. Sleep is a cycle of four stages, divided into two phases – NREM and REM.

NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages: NREM sleep is divided into 3 stages – N1, N2, N3, etc. When you sleep, you first enter N1 then N2, then N3. N1 is a light sleep stage and moving ahead sleep starts getting deep and N3 is the deep sleep stage. During the NREM stages, the brain and blood circulation slows down. Blood pressure and heart rate also fall. Along with that, muscles also get relaxed and you enjoy a good sleep.

REM (rapid eye movement) stage: After being for 50-60 minutes in the NREM stage, you enter the REM stage. In this stage, your eyes move rapidly though your eyes are closed. Breathing becomes very slow and may even skip for a few seconds. REM stage differs from NREM because the brain becomes super active in this stage although the body is fully relaxed. This happens because the heart pumps more blood to the brain than the body.

REM sleep stage lasts up to 30-45 minutes. After that, sleep moves back to the NREM sleep stages. One sleep cycle lasts from 90-110 minutes and this cycle of sleep keeps going throughout the night.

How sleep cycle work for normal sleep?

All the processes that take place during the sleep cycle are regulated by your body’s internal clock. Besides the sleep cycle, all the functions of your body and mind are maintained by the 24-hour circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle of light and dark. Melatonin is a chemical that promotes a good night’s sleep. That’s why, it is also known as sleep hormone.

Melatonin is secreted by the brain’s pineal gland and only in the night. So, a disturbance in the cycle of light and darkness will disturb the secretion of melatonin. As a result, low levels of melatonin affect both the quality and quantity of sleep. People who work rotational or late night shifts or travel a lot have disturbed melatonin levels. That’s why, they are more prone to sleep disorders like insomnia.

All the functions of your body and mind are linked with your internal clock including your sleep cycle. So, the misalignment of the internal clock will alter your sleep cycle as well.

What is insomnia and how does it affect your sleep cycle?

There is no normal amount of sleep as it varies from person to person. In general, healthy adults need 7-8 hours of sleep every night to function well throughout the day. But these days, most people are facing issues in getting quality sleep. Even after sleeping for 7-8 hours, people don’t feel refreshed and energetic when they wake up. So, it is not how much you sleep, it is how well you sleep.

If you are feeling the same while waking up in the morning, you may have insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which people experience the following symptoms:

·         take more time to fall asleep than usual

·         wake up several times at night and feel difficulty sleeping back

·         wake up too early in the morning

Insomnia is of two types – acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. When you get poor sleep once or twice in 7-10 days, you have acute insomnia and it for short-term. While in chronic insomnia, you get poor sleep 3-4 times a week and this happens for more than 3 months.

Plenty of reasons are there that may cause insomnia which are:

·         physical health issues: respiratory disorders, chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disorders

·         psychological issues: stress, anxiety, depression

·         excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine

Insomnia affects not only your sleep cycle, it affects the quality of your life. It affects your life in all aspects. So, it is important to manage insomnia on time to fix your disturbed sleep cycle. You can manage insomnia with a variety of lifestyle hacks, natural remedies, and medications. So, if you suffering from insomnia, consult with the doctor to find a suitable treatment method.

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