I recently noticed a correlation between the stages of healthy sleep and a healthy devotional life. The previous blog entries discussed stages 1-4 non-rem sleep. This time we will discuss the crazy, whimsical stage of sleep where dreaming takes place.
After approximately 15-20 minutes of the deep sleep of stages 3 and 4, healthy sleepers will return to stage 2 for another session of autopilot maintenance and reinforcement before going into REM sleep.
Once this session of stage 2 is finished, the brain shifts into the most exciting…the most interesting phase of sleep – REM sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is dreaming. Our brain stem has still shut down all sensory input and motor output – but – the brain begins to wildly fire on different and multiple pathways from the brain stem up into the higher brain cortex. Our eyes are moving…in essence, watching what our brains are dreaming. The brain re-fires recent experiences, yet mixing new memory pathways with old brain pathways. Crazy things happen. I liken this stage unto a sports team, such as a football team, that is doing its pre-game plays and planning new strategies. Vital signs fluctuate while the muscles remain paralyzed. New memories become even more solidified into long-term memory during REM sleep.
A healthy devotional life should also have times when the worshiper, now solid with stage 2 devotions and rested and cleansed through deep prayers (stages 3 and 4), gets intense. Warfare. Intercession. Experiences with God’s presence. Experiences with the Holy Spirit. Exuberant worship. Intense joy. Sometimes increasing the volume. In essence, the prior stages of devotions have set the worshiper up to move out into new territory. Creativity. Solutions and downloads to problems.
After a session of REM sleep, the healthy sleeper shifts again back into stage 2 autopilot for more maintenance and reinforcement. The sleep cycle has finished one cycle, with many more to come before awakening. REM sleep accounts for about 1/6 of healthy sleep; deep sleep accounts for approximately 1/6 of healthy sleep; stage 2 accounts for approximately 2/3 of a healthy night’s sleep. Lack of ongoing healthy sleep sets up an individual for memory problems – especially learning new memories. Since stage 2 and REM sleep are a one-two punch of consolidating new memories, ongoing and regular healthy sleep helps promote memory development.