What is Sleep and How it is Scientifically Measured



Sleep is scientifically studied using polysomnography. It consists of measuring a person’s brain waves, eye movements, and neck muscle tension when a person is in bed intending to sleep. Sleep can be divided into non-REM (NREM) and REM sleep. NREM sleep is further divided into N1, N2, and N3 sleep. Each of these has their own unique characteristics that differ from one another and from wake. A person migrates among these types of sleep during the night in a predictable pattern. However, there are noteworthy differences in the sleep of children, teenagers, and the elderly. Sleep is also affected by factors like cultural beliefs, what is thought to be the function of sleep, how important it is for health, and social relationships. Sleep in some animals is similar to that in human beings, but other—especially lower—animals show considerable variations.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northern Colorado Sleep ConsultantsFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Emeritus Professor Sleep and Dreaming Laboratory and Psychology DepartmentLuther CollegeDecorahUSA

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