From when your dizzy eyes drag to close and your muscles retire – letting go of whatever your handholds, to when you’re fully awake, your body follows a default mode called the sleep cycle. It describes the flow or phases of your sleep and its impact on the body.
Understanding your sleep cycle helps you identify inconsistencies in your sleep and you
probably get the chance to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep. Read on to learn the stages of your sleep cycle.
Experts classify the stages of sleep primarily into two, namely Non-Rapid Eye Movement (Non-REM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM, with the sub-levels being five.
Stage 1- NREM or N1
Stage 2- NREM or N2
Stage 3- NREM or N3
Stage 4- NREM or N4
Stage 5- REM Sleep.
The Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) is usually brief, say about 20 mins, and at this stage,
the sleep journey begins like an aeroplane preparing for take-off. NREM 1 stage is an interim between consciousness and sleep as you become drowsy. If no one disturbs you, you transcend onto stage 2 of the sleep cycle.
Stage 2 sleep cycle duration is about 10- 25mins and is known as the light sleep stage with no active dreaming. At this stage, you lose consciousness of your environment. There are no eye movements, and there is a further drop in your breathing and heart rate. It is also at this stage that memory is formed.
Stage 3 and 4
These are the deepest sleep stages in the NREM cycle. The brain produces delta brain waves,
i.e., slow waves. This stage is very important for restorative sleep, which allows bodily recovery and growth. NREM 4 is also known as the deep sleep state (5- 10mins). It is always difficult to wake up at this stage, even with distractions, because your body is relaxed. The older we get, the less time we spend here, opting for a longer duration in Stage 2 sleep.
Also, there are no eye movements, plus a decrease in body temperature, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Though in quiescence, the brain contributes to insightful and creative thinking. The body experiences tissue repairs, cell generations, bodily recharge in terms of its immune system, making this stage important for health recovery.
Stage 5 (20- 40mins) is primarily a dreamy stage, with the eye movement becoming rapid,
increase in breathing and heart rate and the brain activities increase remarkably. REM sleep is essential for mental functions, as the brain hosts neurological responses that process and store information in long-term memory.
Matt Walker, TED Speaker and author of “Why We Sleep,” notes that “we get a boost for
creativity, that it stitches information together so that we wake up with solutions to previously difficult problems that we were facing.”
Human sleep produces a standard cycle of 90 minutes, which is repeated throughout the night with the Non-REM sleep dominating the first half of your night sleep while the REM sleep dominates the other half.
Some dangers of not having good and quality sleep can cause the risk of disorders such as
cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, depression, insomnia among others. It will even become very difficult to respond quickly or concentrate.
Tips to getting a good night’s rest include avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine in the afternoon, setting a sleep schedule, and winding down to about 25 mins before bedtime. Lying on a comfortable surface with nice beddings and pillows like the Fluidé Good Night Kit is key to comfort, proper spinal alignment, and sound sleep.