What are the Stages of the Sleep Cycle?

 What are the Stages of the Sleep Cycle?

What Is Sleep?

Sleep is the natural resting state of your body and mind. It is a state when your body’s nervous system is completely inactive, and you are in an altered state of consciousness. If we talk about good quality sleep, then we must talk about the sleep cycle. Quality sleep is characterized by a person going through these five stages at least four to five times every night, with each cycle taking roughly 90 minutes to complete.

A person needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be fully rested. This rest can energize your body and alert your mind the next day. A lack of this rest can result in many different mental and physical health problems, anything from depression to cardiovascular degeneration. Here are the five stages of sleep you need to complete to get a good night’s rest:

The Five Stages of Sleep

Stage 1:

This is the entrance into the sleep cycle. In this stage, you have very light sleep that you drift in and out of. It is also very easy to wake a person up when they are in this stage of the cycle. In the body, the eye movements and muscle activity slow down during this stage. If you had ever felt a falling-like sensation during sleep or felt startled when someone woke you up, it was because you were experiencing this stage of the sleep cycle. This shocking sensation has a name, Hypnic Myoclonia.

In this stage of sleep, it is also difficult to remember any actions you did, like snoozing an alarm or certain conversations you had. This stage lasts between 5-10 minutes.

Stage 2:

When you enter the second stage of the cycle, your eye movements stop, and brain activity slows down. Some occasional bursts of rapid brain waves still take place during this stage, and these are called sleep spindles. You can be in this stage for about 20 minutes.

Stage 3 and 4:

Stage 3 to 4 is when you start moderate to deep sleep. During this stage, your muscle and eye activity come to a complete stop. Your brain goes from giving off mostly delta waves to almost exclusively delta waves between stages 3 and 4. It is very difficult to wake someone up when they are at these stages of the cycle. However, if you manage to wake them, they will feel disoriented and groggy; it will probably take them a few minutes to adjust to being awake. These are the stages at which sleepwalking, bed-wetting, and night terrors occur. Stages 3 and 4 combined last about 30 minutes.

Stage 5:

This stage is referred to as REM sleep or Rapid Eye Movement. This is because, during this stage of the cycle, the eyes start moving rapidly in different directions. REM sleep makes the sleepers breathe shallow, fast, and irregular. The heart rate and blood pressure rise, and your body enters a temporary state of paralysis. REM is when dreams occur as well, and if you are woken during this stage of sleep, you are likely to remember your dreams. This stage lasts about 30 minutes or longer.

If you are looking to effectively go through these stages of sleep, make sure you are not suffering from any sleep disorders. If you feel like you might be suffering from a sleep disorder, get a second opinion from a professional. The SoCal Sleep Team can help you identify and deal with your sleep issues quickly and effectively. Get in touch today!

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