Stages of Sleep
We all know sleep is an integral part of our health, but it’s much more than a good night’s rest. By studying the various stages of sleep, we can learn just how important it is for our body and mind. Here’s what you should know about the sleep cycle stages and each of their benefits.
What are the different stages of sleep?
For hundreds of years, doctors, researchers, and even average people have been fascinated with the concept of sleep. There is a reason why books like Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep are bestsellers with thousands of reviews.
When you analyze the four stages of sleep, it’s easy to see why a great night of sleep every night is one of the best ways to preserve your health, today and in the future. Each stage is important and different from the next.
Stage 1: Non-REM falling asleep
You get into bed and start the process of trying to fall asleep. This is the first of four sleep stages. While your eyes may be closed, it’s easy to wake you up. This phase may last anywhere from five to ten minutes.
Think of this stage as the transition from wakefulness to sleep. Heartbeat, breathing, brain waves, and eye movements all begin to slow down, allowing your muscles to relax.
Stage 2: Non-REM light sleep
Stage two is considered light sleep. Your body temperature drops, and eye movements stop. While brain waves slow down, there are bursts of electrical activity.
You are preparing for deep sleep during this stage, which can last for ten to 25 minutes.
Stage 3: Non-REM deep sleep
At last, your body is experiencing deep sleep during this third stage of sleep. Heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels during sleep, making it difficult to wake you. If someone did manage to wake you up, you would feel out of sorts for a few minutes.
This stage of sleep is crucial because it’s when your body regrows tissues, builds bone and muscles, and boosts your immune system. Deep sleep occurs in longer periods during the first half of the night and allows you to wake up feeling refreshed.
Stage 4: REM sleep
About 90 minutes after falling asleep, you enter into REM sleep. The first period of REM sleep only lasts about ten minutes, but each of your later REM cycles get longer. The final one may even last up to an hour.
During this stage, your eye movement is rapid and your brain is more active. In fact, mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to what you experience during the day. This is why you can often have intense dreams during REM sleep. This stage is important because it stimulates the areas of the brain that help with learning and memory consolidation.