Everything About the Sleep Cycle, Stages of Sleep and Dreaming

Sleep is among the most important activities for healthy living. During sleep, our bodies repair muscles, develop bones, sort memories out, and manage hormones, improving our mental and physical well-being.

Most of us tend to gauge the quality of sleep based on how long we sleep or how good or comfortable a mattress from a BR Mattress Outlet is. However, good quality sleep suggests restorative sleep that progresses smoothly through a 5-stage sleep cycle, guaranteeing quality rest. Each stage of the sleep cycle is important in ensuring you wake up well-rested and refreshed, physically and mentally.   

Read on to learn more about the sleep cycle, non-REM and REM sleep, the various stages of sleep, how and when dreams occur.

What Is a Sleep Cycle?

Sleep does not take place uniformly. But it occurs in sleep cycles that last about 90minutes per night. Each sleep cycle comprises 5 sleep stages, which vary in length depending on age, recent sleep patterns, alcohol and drug use, and sleep disorders. These stages repeat 4-6 times per night.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) of the brain signals’ frequencies and amplitudes, eye movements (EOG), and muscle movements (EMG) are used to categorize the various stages of sleep.

Stage 1 Sleep

This is the dozing-off stage of the sleep cycle that lasts 1-5 minutes. The body is partially relaxed, and brain functions slow down with periodical twitches since skeletal muscles are still functional. Breathing is regular during this stage of sleep. If one remains undisturbed, you can quickly progress into the second stage of sleep.

Stage 2 Sleep

You sleep deeper but lightly during this stage, characterized by “saw tooth waves” and sleep spindles, lasting 10-60 minutes. Heart rate slows, body temperature drops, and eye movement is minimal.

Stages 3 and 4 – Deep Sleep

These are progressively deeper sleep cycle stages, also referred to as slow-wave sleep (SWS), delta sleep, or deep sleep. It can last for 20-40 or 10-60 minutes. The EEG depicts a slower frequency and higher amplitude of brain signals, depicting delta waves.

You are unlikely to awaken during SWS. Heart rate and breathing are very low, the body is fully relaxed, and there is no eye movement. Mental functionality is moderately impaired due to sleep inertia. During this stage, the body repairs and grows tissues, regenerates cells, and strengthens the immune system.

Stages 1-4 of the sleep cycle make up the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep that precedes stage 5 sleep, the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep.

Stage 5 Sleep of the Sleep Cycle

Also referred to as REM sleep, it is at this stage when you start dreaming.  It is psychologically distinctive from the other stages, with the EEG resembling wake time. But the skeletal muscles are completely atonic. Breathing is more erratic and irregular. It is suggested that muscle atonia or temporary muscle paralysis protects the body from injury as you sleep. However, breathing muscles and the eyes keep moving. The eyes move rapidly, explaining the name of this stage.

During REM sleep, one experiences more vivid and intense dreams than those in NREM sleep. Cognitive functions such as learning and creativity are boosted during REM sleep. Taking about 25% of an adult’s sleep time, the first stages of REM sleep can last a few minutes, with later ones lasting even an hour.

Enjoy Quality Sleep With a Quality Mattress

A quality mattress can ensure you get quality sleep and wake up well-rested and rejuvenated. Please visit any BR Mattresses outlet and get yourself one. You can also visit our blog for further details.

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