Sleep Monitoring Report
Six years or a third of eighteen years is roughly how much time of my life I have spent asleep. Six years in which the most complicated item in the known universe is practically defenseless. Better yet, six years where my mind almost completely departs from its usual realm of consciousness. A remarkable feature of most organisms with a brain; one I truly love. But why do I love to sleep? The question then arises, what is happening behind my closed eyelids and inside my brain? What benefit (if any) does sleeping do for me? Let’s find out.
In order to understand the data, I had collected, I needed to learn about sleep. Sleep follows patterns of bodily functions and brain activity; while we sleep, our brains exhibit distinct and unique stages of brain activity. This paper will discuss the patterns and stages of sleep and how marijuana affects them.
When you fall asleep, your brain and body go through five stages of sleep in one sleep cycle. These stages of sleep have been classified by monitoring muscle tone, eye movements, and electrical activity of the brain using an electroencephalogram (EEG). EEG readings are able to measure brain activating by placing a number of sensors on the scalp. These sensors measure brain waves and classify them according to speed. Alpha-rhythms have the highest frequency, followed by beta-rhythms. Theta and delta waves are the slowest having the smallest frequency. A typical sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes or so, during which the brain goes through each type of brain wave. The sleep cycle continues this process until it has been repeated approximately five or six times during the course of the night.
The first four stages are considered to be Non-Rapid Eye Movement sleep (NREM) or orthodox sleep. The function 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 decrease, muscles relax, and the body metabolism slows.
Stage I. Stage I is a transition between sleep and wakefulness which is usually only five minutes in duration. Short dreams may occur, usually involving images remembered from throughout the day. The brain’s electrical activity slows as exhibited by beta-rhythms on the EEG. The initial stage of Stage I sleep is the one I trouble the most with, usually spending an hour trying to fall asleep. However, I spend, an average of about 30% of my sleep in this stage. Since my recent uptake of marijuana, the initial stage of sleep comes instantly to me and I have no more trouble falling asleep.
Stage II. Stage II is a somewhat deeper level of sleep, characterized by slower breathing and heart rates. The EEG of stage II shows slow beta-rhythms, interspersed with periods of fast alpha-rhythms called sleep spindles and some delta-rhythms.
Stages III and IV. Stages III and IV are the deepest levels of sleep and have the slowest waves as measured by EEG: Stage III has both theta and delta rhythms, while Stage IV has only delta-rhythms. The body uses this time to maintain and restore itself. Growth hormone secretions are at their highest during these stages. Stages III and IV begin after one has been asleep for approximately half an hour. The first episodes of Stage II and IV sleep are usually the longest of the night. As successive cycles of sleep pass, these stages are replaced by longer periods of Stage V sleep.
Stage V. Stage V is remarkably different from the previous stages. The brain and body become active, increasing heart rate and blood pressure. The eyes shudder quickly back and forth, giving this stage the name Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. EEG patterns for REM sleep are much like those during wakefulness and include many fast beta-rhythms. It may even be that the brain works harder during REM sleep than when awake. REM sleep usually lasts anywhere from 11 to 25 minutes, typically longer in the later sleep cycles of the night. Approximately 25% of all sleep is REM sleep in adults, in children it is even higher. On completion of a phase of REM sleep, the brain and body return to Stage I, and begin another sleep cycle.
The differences between NREM and REM sleep tell a story. NREM sleep deals mainly with repairing and relaxing the body, while REM sleep has deals with the innerworkings of the brain. Even though they But they may certainly be interconnected. Researchers have speculated that NREM sleep also functions to recharge the brain by allowing depleted glycogen supplies to be replenished. Further hypotheses state that the high levels of neurological activity during REM sleep allows ions to be pumped across the membranes of neurons in the brain and stimulate another cycle of NREM sleep.