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Sleep for many of us is considered our favorite part of the day Its a time where your body becomes relaxed and you dont have to worry about anything except do I have enough pillows tonight As simple as falling asleep may seem there is quite a lot that goes into a sleep cycle Your body does many amazing things while you sleep that prepare your body for the next day As you read youll learn more about what exactly happens in a sleep cycle and why our bodies require sleepCIRCADIAN RHYTHMSSleep cycles follow our circadian rhythms It has been found that the natural hormone melatonin plays a large part in aiding sleep As night falls enzymes in the brain stimulate the release of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain Melatonin induces sleep by influencing the superchiasmatic nucleus a tiny region on the brains midline responsible for controlling circadian rhythms The release of melatonin is put on hold when morning arrives and we experience wakefulness ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM EEG READINGS Upon falling asleep the brain and body go through five stages of sleep in one sleep cycle Researchers have classified these stages by monitoring muscle tone eye movements and the electrical activity of the brain using an electroencephalogram EEG EEG readings measure brain waves and classify them according to speed The fastest waves are alpha-rhythms followed by the slower beta rhythms Theta and delta waves are the slowest An average sleep cycle last 90 minutes or so during which the brain revolves through each type of EEG rhythm This sleep cycle is repeated five or six times through the course of the night NON-RAPID EYE MOVEMENT NREMThe first four stages of sleep are considered to be Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep NREM or orthodox sleep The purpose of these stages is to restore and rebuild the body after a long period of wakefulness Vegetative functions dominate NREM sleep The body temperature heart rate and blood pressure
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