Sleep Fundamentals: Hygiene, Disorders, Cycles, and Circadian Rhythms

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6 Questions

What is the primary purpose of establishing a consistent sleep schedule?

To improve sleep quality

Which of the following sleep disorders is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks?


What is the typical duration of a full sleep cycle?

90-120 minutes

What is the primary benefit of engaging in regular exercise, but not before bedtime?

Improved sleep quality

Which of the following sleep disorders is caused by interrupted breathing during sleep?

Sleep Apnea

What is the primary characteristic of the N3 stage of sleep?

Slow delta brain waves

Study Notes

Sleep Hygiene

  • Practices that promote better sleep quality:
    • Establish a consistent sleep schedule
    • Create a sleep-conducive environment (dark, quiet, cool)
    • Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime
    • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and electronics before bedtime
    • Get regular exercise, but not before bedtime
    • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime
    • Limit naps to 20-30 minutes and avoid napping close to bedtime
    • Manage stress through relaxation techniques (meditation, deep breathing)

Sleep Disorders

  • Common sleep disorders:
    1. Insomnia: chronic difficulty falling or staying asleep
    2. Sleep Apnea: interrupted breathing during sleep
    3. Narcolepsy: excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden sleep attacks
    4. Restless Leg Syndrome: uncomfortable sensations in the legs during sleep
    5. Sleepwalking: performing tasks while asleep
  • Sleep disorders can be caused by:
    • Genetics
    • Lifestyle factors (e.g., substance abuse, irregular sleep schedule)
    • Medical conditions (e.g., sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome)
    • Medications
    • Aging

Sleep Cycles

  • A full sleep cycle lasts around 90-120 minutes
  • Each cycle consists of:
    1. N1 (NREM 1): Transition from wakefulness to sleep, characterized by slow eye movements
    2. N2 (NREM 2): Light sleep, body temperature cools, heart rate slows
    3. N3 (NREM 3): Deep sleep, slow delta brain waves, difficult to wake
    4. REM (Rapid Eye Movement): Brain active, dreams occur, muscles paralyzed
  • Most people experience 4-6 sleep cycles per night

Circadian Rhythms

  • Internal biological processes that regulate our sleep-wake cycle
  • Controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain
  • Influenced by:
    • Light exposure
    • Melatonin production
    • Body temperature
    • Hormone secretion
  • Circadian rhythms can be affected by:
    • Jet lag
    • Shift work
    • Irregular sleep schedules
    • Aging

Test your knowledge of sleep fundamentals, including practices that promote better sleep quality, common sleep disorders, the stages of sleep cycles, and how circadian rhythms regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Learn about the factors that affect our sleep and how to improve its quality.

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