The Stages of Sleep
- Stage 1: This stage is the lightest of all five stages, and typically lasts for 5 to 10 minutes. Eye movement and muscle activity begin to slow as the body relaxes. During stage 1 sleep, many people experience sudden muscle contractions that are often preceded by a sensation of starting to fall.
- Stage 2: Eye movement stops and brain waves begin to slow as heart rate and body temperature drop. This light sleep stage begins to prepare the body for deep, rejuvenating rest.
- Stage 3: This stage marks the body’s transition from light sleep to deep, restful sleep. During this stage, the body repairs damaged tissues, builds new bone and muscle tissue and strengthens the immune system. It is difficult to wake up during stage 3 sleep. If you do, you’ll likely feel disoriented for a few minutes.
- REM: The brain and body are incredibly active during REM sleep. Heart rate and breathing quicken. Brain activity increases. As the name REM suggests, the eyes move back and forth quickly. This is the stage of sleep where dreaming occurs. REM sleep is essential to learning, as it helps brain transfer information from short term to long-term memory.
The Interplay Between Sleep and Substances
- Alcohol: While alcohol is often thought of as a sedative or calming drug, it’s detrimental to sleep quality. Drinking can induce sleep, but the quality of sleep is often lower, particularly in the second half of a person’s sleep period. The number of times you wake up in the later half of the night increases, which keeps you in lighter sleep stages and prevents you from getting the REM sleep you need. Many of the symptoms of a hangover can actually be attributed to lack of sleep.
- Cocaine: Because cocaine floods the brain with dopamine, it increases wakefulness and suppresses REM sleep long after the drug is ingested. Chronic cocaine use can also alter the structures in the brain that control sleep-wake cycles, further disrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle.
- Ecstasy: Using ecstasy (aka “molly”) even once can have dramatic impacts on sleep. According to a study published in Psychopharmacology, rats given a single dose of MDMA (the chemical name for ecstasy) experienced the modifications of two genes essential to maintaining the body’s natural sleep rhythms. According to Dr. Ogeil, the doctor who led the study, MDMA has a similar effect on human users, causing irregular sleep or low quality sleep for months after ingesting the drug.
- Opioids: Because opioids like morphine, hydrocodone and heroin have powerful sedative properties, many people believe that they aid in sleep. The reverse is true. Studies have found that people taking opioids experience significantly disrupted sleep through every cycle of sleep. For those taking opioids to deal with pain, this can be doubly detrimental. Paradoxically, sleep is already significantly disrupted in individuals who deal with chronic pain, and high-quality sleep is essential to healing and repairing the body.
- Talking Teen Mental Health on World Mental Health Day - September 25, 2018
- 4 Surprising Ways Yoga Can Benefit Recovery - September 7, 2018
- Three Years and 550 Lives Later, Next Generation Village Continues to Empower Teens in Recovery - September 6, 2018
- 5 Ways to Use Introversion to Your Advantage in Recovery - August 27, 2018
- 4 Signs That Your Addiction Is Tied to PTSD - June 4, 2018
- Using Self-Care to Curb Addiction and Mental Illness - May 14, 2018
- Residents in This Florida County are Nearly Twice as Likely to Die from a Drug Overdose - May 10, 2018
- The Tragic Connection Between Addiction and Child Abuse - April 5, 2018
- More Americans Concerned With Opioid Crisis Than Gun Control - March 30, 2018
- The Surprising Impact of Rest on Addiction and Recovery - March 7, 2018