Stages of Sleep


Sleep is a mystery to us all. We spend approximately ⅓ of our life asleep. However, there still a lot that we don’t know about sleep. There still a lot we don’t understand about sleep. We know it’s important. We’re told that from a young age. Why is it so important though? Why is ⅓ of our life consumed by sleep? Most importantly what’s even happening to our body’s when were sleeping?

Some of those questions still remain a mystery. What we do know about though is the importance of sleep. The recommended amount of sleep to get each night is 8 hours. However, what’s not common knowledge is the side effects of not getting an adequate amount of sleep. The amount of sleep you get affects almost every function of your body. Poor sleep can result in an increase in weight gain, a decrease in productivity and concentration, and after awhile it can alter your immune system. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to mental illnesses like depression. Which is why people are always telling you about how important sleep is.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on with your body when you sleep. Well, the answers is you go through a sleep cycle which consists of different stages of sleep. A complete sleep cycle consists of 5 stages. Stage 1,2,3,4 and REM. Each stage lasts about 5-15 minutes. It takes an estimated 90-110 minutes to complete a sleep cycle, so you go through a whole sleep cycle a few times throughout the night.

The first four stages are non-REM stages. Stage one is a light sleep. Where you drift in and out of sleep. During this stage, it’s very easy for you to be woken up. In this stage, people will have muscle contractions and often experience the sensation of falling. Stage two is when your eye movement stops, and brain waves slow down immensely. Your body is preparing for deep sleep by dropping body temperature and slowing down the heart rate. In stage three you have extremely slow brain waves. In this stage, you are in a deep sleep. This is when people will experience things like sleepwalking, night terrors, and talking in there sleep. In stage four your brain exclusively produces delta brain waves. If you’re woken up at this stage you will feel groggy and/or disoriented. Stage four is the last stage before you enter REM sleep.

REM sleep is stage five on the sleep cycle. REM stands for rapid eye movement. Which is when your eyes remain close but move rapidly from side-to-side. In REM sleep you brain waves actually mimic the activity of waking state, so there’s a lot of brain activity going on at this stage. This is also the stage where you experience your most lucid dreams. It’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily the stage in which you wake up. The cycle does repeat itself, so your not always waking up when you’re in REM sleep. In fact, it’s much more likely you’ll wake up in one of the four other non-REM stages.

Even though there’s a lot that is unknown about sleep. There’s also a lot we can learn about sleep. Even though in this article we touched on the importance of sleep, and the different sleep cycles. There still so much more to explore. Sleep may seem like the most simple thing in the world. Something ever babies can do. The truth is though like anything that goes on in our bodies sleep is complex.