Light and Deep Sleep
For some people the slightest noise wakes them at night. Others the siren of a passing fire truck doesn’t disturb them. Just why remains a bit of a mystery.
Many people are self-proclaimed light sleepers or heavy sleepers researchers have found that little is actually known about why people react differently to noises and other stimuli during sleep.
Genetics, lifestyle choices, and undiagnosed sleep disorders may all play a role. Some studies suggest that differences in brainwave activity during sleep may also make someone a light or heavy sleeper.
Light Sleep VS Deep Sleep
During sleep you alternate between cycles of REM and Non-REM that repeat about every 90 minutes. You spend about 75 percent of the night in Non-REM sleep which consists of four stages of increasing relaxation.
Stage one or the phase between being awake and asleep is considered light sleep. Deeper sleep begins in stage two, as your breathing and heart rate become regular and your body temperature drops. Stages three and four are the deepest and most restorative stages of sleep, in which breathing slows, muscles relax, and tissue growth and repair occurs.
In general young people spend more time in the deeper heavier stages of sleep as they grow and develop. Older people spend less time in deep-sleep stages and are more likely to complain of being light sleepers.
But sleep experts say the difference between a light and heavy sleeper may be largely subjective. Someone who gets eight hours of sleep a night may not experience as much slow-wave, deep sleep as the person who get six hours of sleep.
What Contributes to Light Sleep
Differences in how sleeping people respond to noise may be related to levels of brain activity called sleep spindles. Researchers found that people whose brains produced the most of these high-frequency sleep spindles were more likely to sleep through loud noises. Further research is needed to confirm the results.
If someone is complaining of not feeling rested because of being a light sleeper they should look at the factors that might be contributing to the inability to achieve a deep sleep.
A doctor can recommend a sleep study in a sleep lab to see if a sleep disorder may be to blame.
Some sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea. May contribute to light sleep by causing you to wake up throughout the night because of breathing issues.
It’s hard to generalize about what makes some people light sleepers and others heavy sleepers. It might be some sort of genetics.
In most cases factors under your own control affect the quality of sleep you get. Issues related to lifestyle, medication, alcohol, and caffeine can all lighten sleep. People might also not be getting enough sleep because they’re not spending enough time in bed.
Practicing healthy sleep habits maintaining a regular sleep schedule limiting caffeine and alcohol use and sleeping in a quiet, dark, and cool space can all help achieve deeper sleep.
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