A Dreamer's Guide to the Stages of Sleep
Even when we sleep, our brains are still very active. They complete various stages of what's called a sleep cycle.
But what are the stages of sleep, and what happens when we reach them? Below, we take a closer look at the stages of sleep, why they're important, and what they mean.
Stages of Sleep
There are 5 stages to a sleep cycle. The first two stages are a light sleep, when we can still be woken by movement or noises around us. The next two stages are the beginning of deep sleep, during which it's harder to be woken up by outside stimuli. The final stage is REM, the most important stage of our sleep cycles.
This is the first few minutes of your sleep cycle and lasts around five to ten minutes. Your body and mind slow down with calm breathing and small muscle and eye movements.
This is still a relatively light sleep, but there is a subtle change in your body's temperature. Your muscles will relax and your breathing and heart rate will slow further.
Stage 2 typically lasts for 10-15 minutes but can last longer in subsequent cycles during the night.
Brain activity does slow during stage 2, but there are quick activity bursts that can help stop you from waking up from noises and movements around you. Brain waves show a different pattern during stage 2, and eye movement or twitching stops.
Stage 3 is a deep sleep, and it becomes much harder to wake someone up during this stage. As in stage 2, your body relaxes even further, with heart rate and breathing becoming slower again.
Stage 3 is where your body can begin to recover from the day and start to properly rest. Like with stage 2, the length of stage 3 differs as the night progresses. In early sleep cycles, it lasts between 20 - 40 minutes, but this shortens as the night goes on and more time is spent in REM sleep.
This is a continuation of deep sleep, with further drops to heart rate and slower breathing. Your blood pressure can also go down and blood flow increases.
During deep sleep, it is difficult to be woken and you can be disorientated if you wake up during a deep sleep stage.
Stage 5 (R)
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep occurs in the deepest stage of sleep. It is essential to your sleep cycle, and it's also when your brain is most active.
During the REM sleep cycle, your breathing may become faster and your heart rate increases. This is also the stage at which dreaming occurs. It is when your mind processes your thoughts and experiences from the day and gets rid of things it doesn't need.
Often, we need to keep a routine to help us get a better night's sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time can help us sleep better and achieve the deeper sleep we need.
We can also try to eat a varied diet and get more exercise, or look to sleeping aids such as melatonin gummies.
Find Your Deep Sleep
Now you know what the different stages of sleep are and how important deep sleep is for your body to repair itself and your mind to reenergize.
Ready to learn more about improving your well-being? If so, you can find more tips and information on our site.