The Stages of Sleep

The quality of sleep you experience is just as important as the duration. If you’re a restless sleeper, suffer from sleep apnea, or are constantly woken by someone else’s snoring, you might not get the benefit of a full sleep cycle.

As a company that provides effective sleep apnea solutions, we feel it’s important for our clients to understand how the process of sleep happens. There are actually five different stages of sleep that the body goes through when you rest. The first four are known as non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stages, while the final one is known as REM sleep.

 

Non-REM Sleep

Stage 1: This occurs when you lie down and close our eyes to sleep. For most people, it occurs within a few minutes. Your eye movement will slow and your muscle movements stop. This is a light sleep state, meaning external noise or disturbances can easily rouse you.

Stage 2: In this stage, you will actually be asleep and unaware of your surroundings. While your breathing and heart rate remain regular, your brainwaves will slow down, your body temperature starts to drop and eye movement drops significantly.

Stage 3: Here, you will have entered deep sleep where your breathing is slower and your muscles are relaxed. Your body is less responsive to external stimuli and, therefore, you will be harder to wake.

Stage 4: This is the deepest sleep and is characterized by slow brain waves. Experts believe that this is the state where your body will repair muscles and tissues, stimulate growth, boost immune function and replenish energy stores for the coming day.

 

REM Sleep

Stage 5: In this final stage of the sleep cycle, your brain will start to become more active and your eyes will start to twitch and jerk in different directions (hence, the name). Your breathing rate, heart rate and blood pressure will also increase. This is also where most dreaming occurs. Most people usually enter REM sleep about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This stage is particularly important for learning and long-term memory.

Based on eight hours of proper sleep, an adult can expect an average of five or six REM sleep cycles over the course of a night. As sleep progresses, the duration of the various stages will change. Furthermore, the age of an individual also affects the pattern and duration of these stages. For example, a senior’s sleep cycle will be significantly different than that of a toddler.

 

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you might not get to pass through all of the stages of sleep. If you’re constantly waking up feeling fatigued from inadequate sleep, contact our sleep clinic.