Sleep Architecture

Last Updated: January 6, 2019

Definition - What does Sleep Architecture mean?

Sleep architecture is a sequential order of sleep stages that comprises non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) circadian rhythm cycles. Sleep is an important homeostatic function of the body, as it promotes intracellular growth, maintains organic tissue health, and fortifies cognitive abilities. The NREM sleep phase consists of three stages (N1, N2, N3) followed by the REM sleep stage to complete a full cycle within an approximate time frame of ninety to one hundred minutes before autonomously repeating the process.

WorkplaceTesting explains Sleep Architecture

Sleep architecture can undergo physiological changes influencing people’s sleep patterns to the extent REM sleep is compromised with age. A hypnogram is a clinical test procedure for charting sleep architecture and its corresponding sleep stages to identify fluctuating biorhythms. The integrity of sleep architecture can reflect whether an individual is a candidate of a sleep disorder including insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea.

In many cases, sleep pattern deviations cause people to forgo REM sleep, especially when intermittent sleep arousals are a recurrent nighttime disturbance. With an aging population in the workplace, sleep disorders become a health and safety priority where distinct factors including mental acuity and physical endurance are crucial elements of job performance. For this reason, companies are introducing ergonomic solutions that allow employees to take naps in designated areas to improve concentration, increase morale, and optimize productivity.

However, many employers believe that promoting naps as a health and safety guideline also carries the stigma of inefficient work practices, in particular, employees who abuse the privilege. A disparity of benefits and drawbacks exists where studies indicate that long nap sessions can bolster cognitive functions while potentially interrupting normal biorhythms. Employers can help promote sleep architecture by instilling good sleep hygiene habits combined with installing modern equipment (i.e., nap pods) that are cost-effective.

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