For many of us, a healthy lifestyle means eating right and getting daily exercise. But getting enough sleep helps us round out that wellness trifecta. And as it turns out, getting a good night’s sleep is more than just time spent at rest.

Dr. Nidal Alkurdy, Mankato Clinic, says, “When talking about quality of sleep, it is not only the number of hours we sleep it’s having a good healthy sleep architecture.”

That healthy sleep architecture is built on five stages of sleep. One of those is known as REM.

Dr. Alkurdy says, “During REM sleep our brain consolidates all data we learn during the day, it establishes neuron connection, replenishes chemicals including the so called
feel good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.”

REM falls in between four stages of nonREM sleep. It’s how smooth the journey is through these stages that is key.

Dr. Alkurdy says, “Healthy people transition smoothly between stages. If that doesn’t happen then these patients are not getting good sleep regardless of how many hours.” 

Dr. Alkurdy says getting through all stages equals one cycle, one cycle should take between one and half and two hours. A healthy night’s sleep consists of five complete cycles.

Dr. Alkurdy says, “Our body functions by utilizing energy. While energy comes from the food we eat, the air we breathe or sunlight, how we utilize the energy requires proper functioning of several apparatus and processes. This proper functioning can only be maintained or achieved when using the important physiological changes that occur during sleep.”