Your Sleep Cycle and Sleep Apnea

The sleeping world is a strange and mysterious place, an altered state of consciousness. It almost feels like magic, how sleep resets your body and restores your energy. Normal sleep patterns follow a distinct cycle with identifiable phases.

When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, your sleep cycle is interrupted by an abrupt loss in breathing. A distinctive jolt results – marked by a very loud snore or even a snort – that interrupts your sleep cycle, making you feel tired when you wake up.

To fully understand why sleep apnea is so problematic, it’s important to understand your sleep cycle. You move between the stages several times per night.

Stage 1

The first stage of sleep is the lightest, the initial change from wakefulness to sleep. Your eyes are closed at this point, but you’re still easily disturbed. Your breath slows down, and you may make occasional muscle twitches. Your brain waves also change.

This is the shortest stage of sleep, lasting around 5-10 minutes. It’s the sort of sleep you might have dozing off on the beach on a warm day.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is considered “light sleep.” Things continue to slow down, and at this point your muscles stop twitching and begin to relax. This is a sort of preparatory stage for Stage 3, where you get that good, deep sleep that really refreshes you. Stage 2 is where you spend most of your time asleep.

Stage 2 typically lasts for around 10-25 minutes, meaning that it’s the stage you hit during a quick daytime nap.

Stage 3

The deepest and most important stage of sleep, Stage 3 is where REM, or rapid-eye movement sleep, occurs. So-named because your eyeballs dart quickly under your eyelids, REM sleep is where most dreams occur. REM sleep is vital for health; it’s when your body repairs itself, and many scientists believe it directly correlates with improved memory, oxygen supply, reduced anxiety, and many other important bodily functions.

Because Stage 3 is where you are most physically relaxed, it is also where sleep apnea is the most problematic. Throat muscles relaxing are a common cause of sleep apnea, and if you’re jolted awake, you lose some of that precious REM sleep.

Do you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea? You deserve to get better sleep! Klooster Family Dentistry can fit you with an oral sleep appliance, or OSA, that gently aligns your airway to reduce sleep apnea incidents. It’s easy, comfortable, and covered by most insurance. Contact us today to get started!