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Sleep is a vital human function. Without sleep we would not be able to function. Ensuring our elderly loved ones receive adequate rest is very important to their overall well being.
We have always thought discouraging daytime naps improve nighttime sleep. However, this does not always hold water with elderly persons.
Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle, and is a relatively light stage of sleep.
Stage 1 can be considered a transition period between being awake and being asleep.
In Stage 1, the brain produces high amplitude theta waves, which are very slow brain waves.
This period of sleep lasts only a brief time (around 5-10 minutes).
If you awaken someone during this stage, they might report that they weren't really asleep.
My dad always said he was "resting his eyes"
Stage 2 is the second stage of sleep and lasts for approximately 20 minutes.
The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles.
Body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate begins to slow.
This stage was previously divided into stages three and four.
Deep, slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge during stage 3 sleep.
This stage is sometimes referred to as delta sleep because of the slow brain waves known as delta waves that occur during this time.
During this stage, people become less responsive to noises and activity in the room.
It also acts as a transitional period between light sleep and a very deep sleep.
Bed-wetting and sleepwalking are most likely to occur at the end of this stage of sleep.
Did you know that delta waves are associated with the unconscious mind? They normally occur in our deep sleep phases while we are not dreaming (before REM sleep). Delta waves are also associated with our intuition.
Delta waves play a huge role in intuition and understanding others on an emotional level. People with a high delta waves activity somehow always seem to know how another person feels. Another phenomenon is that sometimes a person will simply know “things”. For instance, they may sense that someone is thinking about them and call at that exact time. Only to hear the recipients say “I was just thinking about you”
Most dreaming occurs during the fourth stage of sleep, known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
REM sleep is characterized by eye movement, increased respiration rate and increased brain activity.
REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active, muscles become more relaxed.
Dreaming occurs due because of increased brain activity, but voluntary muscles become paralyzed. If you have ever had the sensation of being asleep, knowing your asleep, and not being able to wake up or move, you were waking out of a REM sleep instead of cycling back to stage 2. This phenomenon is called sleep paralysis.
The Sequence of Sleep Stages
It is important to realize, however, that sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence.
Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2, and 3. After stage 3 sleep, stage 2 sleep is repeated before entering REM sleep.
Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately four or five times throughout the night.
On average, we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep.
The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time, but each cycle becomes longer. REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses.
One of the most consistent changes observed in the sleep of the elderly is a continuous reduction and, sometimes, the total disappearance of the deepest levels of sleep (stages 3 and 4-REM sleep). Which is why the elderly complain that they are tired; stating "they did not sleep well". The percentage of Stage 1 sleep (the lightest stage of sleep) almost doubles during old age, increasing from 8% to 15% of nocturnal sleep time. Then to top that off, the elderly have less bladder control therefore, awaken often to go to the bathroom.
Some studies also suggest that the lack of natural sunlight and exercise decrease the elderly persons sleep cycles.
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