Architect Your Sleep

Sleep consists of a cyclical pattern that shifts between non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Through the night, or whenever you sleep, your brain goes through different cycles with each lasting about 90 to 120 minutes. 

Each cycle has a different depth that ranges from light sleep stages (N1 sleep) to deeper, slow-wave sleep (N2 and N3 sleep). The deepest cycle is REM which occurs during the latter part of your sleep as it alternates with the N2 sleep cycle. The REM cycle, therefore, is not only the cycle during which dreams occur but can also lead to various sleep issues if constantly interrupted. That’s when sleep architecture comes into play.

Sleep Architecture is basically a method that allows us to picture this complex pattern that occurs over the course of the night through the use of a hypnogram. It describes each of the different cycles of sleep as well as help us understand the consequences of sleep interruptions during each one. Like other aspects of our bodies, it is impacted by both age and sleep disorders. As we become older, our sleep architecture changes through an increase in N1 cycles and a decrease in slow-wave sleep cycles. This change causes interruptions of sleep during the night which, in turn, might lead to insomnia.

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Other sleep disorders also change the shape of your sleep architecture. This can occur if the REM cycle happens early in the sleep process and might have several causes. One cause is Narcolepsy which is a sleep disorder that causes deep REM sleep to occur at a much quicker rate than usual. Other causes can be irregular sleep-wake rhythm caused by disorders such as sleep apnea, withdrawal from anti-depressants and depression.

Written by: Milisia Fam

Works Cited:

  1. Brandon Peters, MD, a board-certified physician. “Sleep Architecture Represents the Cyclical Pattern of Sleep.” Verywell, http://www.verywell.com/what-is-sleep-architecture-3014823.
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India Study Abroad

This past winter, I traveled to Jamkhed, Maharashtra, India on a Global Health: Ethnography study abroad session. I was humbled by the successful, sustainable health care the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), founded by Drs. Arole, provided to the rural villages in Jamkhed and surrounding districts.

Sustainable by Development

Dr. Raj and Mabelle Arole believed in “comprehensive health care,” which means that the living conditions of the villagers were just as important as their health. And this so logical, since we know that how we live directly affects health repercussions. Because of this mindset, Drs. Arole decided to progress the development of villages to improve their health. Some examples of this were providing clean drinking water, covering water pits (to prevent mosquitos from breeding and spreading malaPicture1ria), and improving irrigation (for water supply during dry seasons).


In the doctors’ book,
Jamkhed, one story particularly struck out to me about the importance of development in rural areas. During a demonstration when the villagers went up to thank the Aroles, the majority of villagers were grateful for the water pumps installed in the villages rather than for the medical work the doctors were providing. In impoverished areas, it is vital to provide basic necessities to improve health.

Sustainable by Empowerment

Another aspect of CRHP I was impressed with was that it strove to change the traditional social structure. The caste system is thousands of years old and embedded in the Indian way of life. On top of that, the society is heavily patriarchal. In order to fight these norms, Drs. Arole had to come up with tactics to change the perspectives of both the health workers that worked for them and the villagers. They sat in circles rather than having the highest status person sit at the head of the floor mat. They placed the water pumps in areas where the Untouchables (lowest of the caste system) lived, so that different castes had to interact to get water. One key tactic was to train women to become village health workers. This gave the women more respect and responsibilities in the village. Furthermore, training a villager rather than bringing in someone new to be the village health work allows the village to stand on its own instead of relying on CRHP.

CRHP’s mission and impact in Jamkhed has shown me that sustainable health care in underserved areas is attainable. My experience in Jamkhed has reinforced my desire to serve in an underdeveloped community. And now, when I hope to improve people’s health, I will remember that development and empowerment are just as important factors as medicine to better comprehensive health.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Further Readings:

Jamkhed: A Comprehensive Rural Health Project, by Mabelle and Rajanikant Arole

Ask A Black Man

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The Question Bridge: Black Males project is a platform for Black men of all ages and backgrounds to ask and respond to questions about life in America. The artists created it to stimulate connections and understanding among Black men, but they also wanted to show the diversity of thought, character and identity in the Black male population so rarely seen in American media. In essence, the artists want to represent and redefine Black male identity in America.

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

The Question Bridge is at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Blvd) — New York, NY, Until January 3, 2015.