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The Ultimate Guide to Understanding the Sleep Cycle

Sleep is an essential activity that ensures good health and promotes a good quality of life. Sleep helps our body:

  • Manage hormones
  • Rest and repair muscles
  • Manage and process memories

However, only high-quality sleep can be restorative for your body.

The sleep cycle consists of four separate sleep stages. Each stage needs to progress smoothly, one after the other, for your body to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Read ahead to learn all about the different stages of the sleep cycle.

The Four Sleep Stages

a pink alarm clock

We have four sleep stages. One stage forms rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and the other three form non-REM sleep. Let’s take a deeper look at all the different sleep stages.

Stage 1 – N1

The N1 sleep stage is when the mind and body are gradually transitioning from wakefulness to sleep. This stage lasts only a few minutes.

N1 is one of the lightest stages of sleep and only lasts for a few minutes. The body isn’t completely relaxed during this stage. The brain activity might begin to slow down with brief twitches, but it’s very easy to wake someone up during this stage.

  • The heartbeat may slow down
  • Eyes will start to move slowly
  • Muscles start to relax

Stage 2 – N2

The next sleep stage is when the body starts to experience a drop in temperature, heart rate, and breathing. The brain waves begin to exhibit a new pattern, and the eye movement will come to a halt.

Once the brain activity slows down, there are little bursts of activity during this stage that prevent the mind from being woken up by any external movement. This stage typically lasts from 10 to 25 minutes and can extend for longer during the night.

Stage 3 – N3

The final non-REM sleep stage is also known as delta or slow-wave sleep. During this stage, the body performs various activities that boost health.

This is when:

  • The body is completely relaxed
  • Heartbeat and breathing are slowed down
  • The brain is exhibiting delta brain waves
  • The immune system is strengthening
  • The body is working to regenerate and repair cells and tissues

Our bodies spend most of the time in deep sleep during the night; this stage can last for 20 to 40 minutes.

REM Sleep

The REM sleep stage is when the brain activity starts to get active again. During the REM stage:

  • The muscles become paralyzed
  • The eyes start to move rapidly
  • Heart rate and breathing start to increase

Now that you’ve learned all about the different sleep stages, it’s time to work to improve sleep efficiency.

Reach out to our sleep experts at A Better Snooze today, where we employ clinically-proven holistic techniques to enhance sleep. We can help you overcome symptoms of insomnia, help with night terrors in adults, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and more.

Get in touch today to learn more.

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