The 5 Stages of Sleep


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If you have sleep issues, understanding the 5 stages of sleep can help you get to the bottom of your sleep problems.

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The 5 Stages of Sleep

  1. 1. The 5 Stages of SleepMost people know that when we sleep we pass through different phases -the 5 stages of sleep. Actually five different phases called stages 1-4 andREM (rapid eye movement) sleep. What some people dont know is that wedont pass from stage one through to REM sleep only once throughout thenight. We go through this cycle repeatedly, with each cycle lasting from 90to 110 minutes, and each time starting back again at stage 1. On average,well spend about 50% of our sleep time in stage 2 sleep, 20% in REM sleepand the other 30% in stages 1, 3 and 4 combined. Infants, however, willgenerally spend half their time asleep in REM.The 5 Stages of SleepStage one can be defined as light sleep. Its where were just starting to driftoff to sleep but can be awakened fairly easily. If you are awakened duringthis stage, you will likely remember bits and pieces of visual imagery. Its in
  2. 2. this stage that our muscle activity slows and our eyes start to slow down.During this stage some people experience what are called hypnic jerks ormyoclonic twitches - a sudden movement similar to the little jump youmake when startled or scared.In stage two, our eye movement ceases and our brain waves slow down. Inthis stage, your brain will experience rapid waves that come in burstswhich are referred to as sleep spindles. As we move into stage three, ourbrains go through smaller, faster waves and these are accompanied byconsiderably slower waves called delta waves. As we progress into stagefour of sleep, our brains produce only delta waves and its these last twostages combined (stage 3 and 4) that together are referred to as deep sleep.During deep sleep there is no muscleactivity or eye movement. Its in thesetwo stages that some children mayexperience sleepwalking, bedwettingor night terrors. If awakened out ofthis deep sleep, youll likely feeldisoriented and groggy for the fewminutes it takes you to adjust or clearthe sleep from your head.During the next stage of the 5 stages of sleep, REM sleep, our eyes moverapidly, jerking back and forth underneath our eyelids (hence the nameRapid Eye Movement) and we experience a temporary paralysis of our limbmuscles. We also start to experience an increase in the pace of ourbreathing although it will be more irregular and shallow. Its also in thisstage that dreaming begins accompanied by an increase in heart rate and arise in blood pressure.
  3. 3. Not being able to get to sleep at night can be a horrible experience - at night as well as throughout the following day. But it doesnt have to be that way - sometimes all it takes is a few lifestyle adjustments. Learn what you need to know to instantly fall asleep each night in the sleep ebook, Get to Sleep Now! 39 Ways to Guarantee Your ZZZs.People will first enter REM about 70 to 90 minutes after initially fallingasleep. During the first few hours of a persons sleep time, theyllexperience less REM and more deep sleep. As they move into the middlehours of their sleep time, theyll experience more REM and less deep sleepand by the end of their sleep time, theyll spend the majority of their timein stages 1, 2 and REM sleep.Since our bodies lose some of their ability to regulate our core temperatureduring REM sleep, hot or cold bedroom temperatures can more easilydisrupt our sleep during this stage. If our bodies go through a disruption ofREM sleep one night, the followingnight, our cycles of sleep will differ aswe try to catch up on our missing REM Related Articlessleep from the previous night. Why We Sleep What is Insomnia? What is Sleep Apnea? What is Narcolepsy? Looping Dreams