Sleep is a transitory and reversible state, which alternates itself with waking (alert state). It is an active process that involves multiple complex mechanisms both physiological and behavioral in various systems and areas of the central nervous system. Two distinct states can be found in sleep: a slower sleep, or non REM sleep, and a sleep with quicker brain activity, or REM (rapid eye movement). Non REM sleep is divided into three stages according to their depth. REM sleep, on the other hand, is characterized by low amplitude brain waves and faster episodes of quick eye movement and maximum muscle relaxation. It is also during REM sleep that a person dreams.

In a normal individual, REM and non REM sleep alternate cyclically during the night. They repeat each other at intervals of 70 to 110 minutes, with 4 to 6 cycles each night. The distribution of stages of sleep during the night can be altered by factors such as: age, circadian rhythm, local temperature, drugs or disease. Normally though, non REM sleep happens in the first part of the night, and REM sleep during the second.

Many functions are assigned to sleep. The simplest theory is that sleep happens so that the body to recover from a possible deficit of energy it incurs while awake. Other than that hypothesis, other functions are assigned in particular to REM sleep such as: maintenance of balance for the body, chemical substances in the brain which regulate the sleep-wake cycle, memory consolidation, regulation of body temperature and more.


  • Have regular hours to go to sleep and wake up.

  • Go to bed only to sleep.

  • Have a proper environment to sleep in: clean, dark, quiet and comfortable.

  • Do not consume alcohol or coffee, as well as certain types of tea and soft drinks close to bed time.

  • Do not take sleep medication without a medical prescription.

  • In case you do not sleep enough the night before, avoid sleeping during the day.

  • Have moderate meals at night and at a regular time.

  • Do not take problems to bed.

  • Engage in resting and relaxing activities prior to sleep.

  • Be active physically and mentally.

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