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How Long Is The Average Sleep Cycle

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References: What Scientific Studies Say About Newborn Sleep

What Are Sleep Cycles? – Everything You Need To Know!

Anders TF. 1979. Night-waking in infants during the first year of life. Pediatrics 63: 860-864.

Bennett C, Underdown A, and Barlow J. 2013. Massage for promoting mental and physical health in typically developing infants under the age of six months. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Apr 30 4:CD005038. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005038.pub3.

Cheruku SR, Montgomery-Downs HE, Farkas SL, Thoman EB, and Lammi-Keefe CJ. 2002. Higher maternal plasma docosahexaenoic acid during pregnancy is associated with more mature neonatal sleep-state patterning. Am J Clin Nutr 76:608-13.

Cubero J, Valero V, Sánchez J, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2005. The circadian rhythm of tryptophan in breast milk affects the rhythms of 6-sulfatoxymelatonin and sleep in newborn. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 26:657-61.

Cubero J, Narciso D, Terrón P, Rial R, Esteban S, Rivero M, Parvez H, Rodríguez AB, Barriga C. 2007. Chrononutrition applied to formula milks to consolidate infants sleep/wake cycle. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 28:360-6.

Custodio RJ, Junior CE, Milani SL, Simões AL, de Castro M, Moreira AC. 2007. The emergence of the cortisol circadian rhythm in monozygotic and dizygotic twin infants: the twin-pair synchrony. Clin Endocrinol . 66:192-7.

Dement W and Vaughan C. 1999. The promise of sleep. New York: Random House.

Doan T, Gardiner A, Gay CL, Lee KA. 2007 Breast-feeding increases sleep duration of new parents. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 21:200-6.

Image credits for Newborn sleep patterns

What Is Sleep Deprivation

When youre sleep deprived, youre not getting the total amount of sleep you need. Signs of sleep deprivation include:

  • Falling asleep within a few minutes of lying down.
  • Feeling drowsy during the day.
  • Nodding off for microsleeps short periods of sleep during the day when youre otherwise awake.
  • Sleep deprivation can be dangerous. Driving while tired causes about 100,000 car accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also causes 1,500 deaths. If you feel tired on the road, pull over. Its not safe to drive if youre drowsy.

How Is An Infants Sleep Schedule Different From An Adults

Infants and adults differ with how much and when they sleep. Generally, healthy adults sleep at least seven hours each night, in a single block of time that is largely uninterrupted. In comparison, newborn babies require up to 18 hours of sleep, broken into multiple short periods, every 24-hours. By six months, babies sleep an average of about 13 hours each day, over larger blocks of time.

Many parents understandably want their baby to sleep through the night. The longer a baby sleeps quietly, the longer the parents can sleep. Unfortunately, most parents of newborns must accept their baby waking up several times during the night. Newborn babies wake up throughout the night because they have not fully developed a strong circadian rhythm that makes children and adults tired at night instead of during the day.

Most babies begin to approximate a more adult sleep schedule between three months and one year of age. During this time of life, babies begin to sleep for longer periods during the night and shorter periods during the day time.

However, not all babies conform to an adult sleep schedule at the same age. Parents should not worry if their baby is not sleeping through the night prior to one year of age. Even after one year, it is common for many babies to wake up at least once per night.

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What Is Sleep And Why Is It Important

Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. Fast forward 70 years and we now know that our brains are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand.

What Are Sleep Disorders

Stages of Sleep

According to the American Sleep Association, at least 40 million Americans experience sleep disorders each year. Another 20 million have occasional sleep issues. These disorders cause sleep deprivation, leading to problems with work, school, driving and social activities.

There are more than 70 sleep disorders. A few, known as disruptive sleep disorders, lead to moving around or making sounds. Other sleep disorders involve food. And some sleep disorders overlap with psychiatric conditions. If you have problems with sleep or feel very tired, talk to your healthcare provider about a possible sleep disorder.

Some of the most common sleep disorders include:

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What Is Normal Sleep

A good nights sleep is when you fall asleep quite easily, do not fully wake up during the night, do not wake up too early, and feel refreshed in the morning. Regularly having difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night is not normal for healthy people of any age. But not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, and quality of sleep is different in different phases of life.

Young children and older people sleep more lightly than adults and teenagers. The length of time spent in deep sleep phases changes over a person’s lifetime. Babies and toddlers need to sleep a lot more than older children and adults. By the time they reach the age of five, most children have the typical sleep patterns of an adult: they are awake during the day and then sleep through the night. The amount of time spent sleeping gradually decreases until the age of 80.

How Long Does It Take To Fall Asleep

Most people have experienced difficulty falling asleep at one time or another. For some people, the problem is temporary, perhaps only lasting a night or two, and may be related to ongoing stress or worries. For others, the problem may be chronic and last for many weeks or months. How long does it take to fall asleep? Find out some answers and get some tips on how you can fall asleep faster.

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What Are The Stages Of Sleep And Average Sleep Time For Each

There are 4 stages of sleep that your body experiences each night : Light sleep, deep sleep , REM sleep and awake. For a more in-depth explanation of how this works, check out Understanding Sleep Cycles and the Stages of Sleep.

Below well give a brief overview of the 4 sleep stages, then break down whats normal for how much time you should be spending in all of them.

What Are The Stages Of Sleep

Sleep 5: Types of Sleep and Sleep Cycles

During sleep, we usually pass through five phases: stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM sleep. These stages of sleepprogress in a cycle from stage 1 to REM sleep, then the cycle starts over again with stage 1. Children and adults spend almost 50 percent of their total sleep time in stage 2 sleep, about 20 percent in REM sleep, and the remaining 30 percent in the other stages. Infants, by contrast, spend about half of their sleep time in REM sleep.

Stage 1 Sleep

During stage 1, which is light sleep, we drift in and out of sleep and can be awoken easily. Our eyes move very slowly and muscle activity slows. People awakened from stage 1 sleep often remember fragmented visual images. Many also experience sudden muscle contractions called hypnic myoclonia or hypnic jerks, often preceded by a sensation of starting to fall. These sudden movements are similar to the jump we make when startled. Some people experience a sleep disorder known as Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep , where they experience recurring leg movements.

Stage 2 Sleep

When we enter stage 2 sleep, our eye movements stop and our brain waves become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves called sleep spindles.

Stage 3 and Stage 4 Sleep

REM Sleep

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The Sleep Cycle: Breaking Down Sleep Stages

As we sleep, our brain and body enter a remarkably complex and healing biological state. According to experts at the National Sleep Foundation, there are two types of sleep: rapid eye movement sleep and non-REM sleep.

Within NREM sleep there are four distinct stages. These have been studied extensively using electroencephalogram , which shows that brain activity is quite different in each of the stages.

Tips For Getting Enough Sleep Each Night

Practicing sleep hygiene is crucial to receiving an adequate amount of rest on a nightly basis. Key aspects of sleep hygiene include:

Follow a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same times, even on the weekends or when you’re on vacation.

Chronic sleep deprivation should be taken seriously. If you aren’t getting enough sleep on a regular basis, consult with your doctor or another credentialed physician about ways to address this issue and improve your sleep allotment.

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What Is A Sleep Debt

If you havent slept well or long enough for a few days, you might create a sleep debt. Once your debt builds up, you may feel physically and mentally exhausted. Try to make sure you get enough sleep every night to avoid creating this debt. You cant necessarily make up your debt by sleeping a lot on the weekends. Its best to get enough sleep all week long.

How Does Sleep Work

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Every person has an internal timekeeping system known informally as the “circadian clock,” which is located in the hypothalamus near the front of the brain. The circadian clock is programmed to reset, or “entrain,” every 24 hours. This 24-hour cycle, the circadian rhythm, is guided by natural light and plays a major role in hormone production, as well as mood, appetite and digestion, body temperature, and other bodily functions.

This clock consists of roughly 20,000 nuclei clustered together to form a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus . During the day, the retinas in your eyes perceive natural sunlight and transmit signals through a nerve tract that leads directly to the SCN. These signals inform the brain whether it is day or night.

In the evening as natural light begins to disappear, the pineal gland in your brain will produce melatonin, a natural hormone that induces feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. When you wake up in the morning and your eyes perceive natural light, the body will produce another hormone, cortisol, that promotes alertness and wakefulness. The brain stem also communicates with the hypothalamus to produce GABA, a hormone that decreases arousals and helps the body wind down.

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What Did Humans Sleep On Before Beds

Before the days of Tempur-Pedic and Casper, humans slept on makeshift sleeping surfaces like piles of straw. As society advanced, primitive mattresses were fashioned out of stuffed fabrics, and down was introduced. Bedframes came much later but have still been around since the ancient Egyptians era.

Stages Of Sleep: The Sleep Cycle

There are five stages of sleep during the sleep cycle. Scientists categorized the stages of sleep based on the characteristics of the brain and body during sleep. Stage 1,2,3, and 4, are categorized as non-REM sleep, and the fifth stage, is REM sleep. Generally, brainwave frequencies and amplitudes from an electroencephelogram are used to differentiate the different stages of sleep, along with other biologic rhythms including eye movements and muscle movements .

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What Happens During Non

There are three phases of non-REM sleep. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. You go through all three phases before reaching REM sleep.

Stage 1: Your eyes are closed, but it’s easy to wake you up. This phase may last for 5 to 10 minutes.

Stage 2: You are in light sleep. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops. Your body is getting ready for deep sleep. This can last for 10-25 minutes.

Stages 3: This is the deep sleep stage. It’s harder to rouse you during this stage, and if someone woke you up, you would feel disoriented for a few minutes.

During the deep stages of NREM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system.

As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Aging is also linked to shorter time spans of sleep, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger.

Short Sleep Duration Among High School Students


Adolescents need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.3 But, more than two-thirds of US high school students report getting less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights .4 Female students are more likely to report not getting enough sleep than male students. Short sleep duration is lowest among 9th graders and highest among 12th graders. Prevalence of short sleep duration also varies by race/ethnicity, with the lowest prevalence among American Indian/Alaska Native students and the highest among Asian students.

Table 4. Short Sleep Duration by Selected CharacteristicsYouth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 20072013.

Short Sleep Duration by Selected Characteristics Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 20072013.

Short sleep duration

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What Affects Your Sleep Cycle

Many factors affect how long your sleep cycle is and how youre able to fall asleep.

Your circadian rhythm is an approximately 24-hour cycle that affects your energy levels its basically an internal 24-hour clock. Its controlled by tiny structure in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus. Your circadian rhythm is affected by what you eat, the amount of light youre exposed to, the state of your gut bacteria, your hormone levels, and your exercise habits.

The length of your sleep cycle depends on the bodys ability to initiate and maintain sleep stages. Lets take a look at some of the factors that influence how long your sleep cycle is and how you sleep.

Is Segmented Sleep Healthy

The answer to this question depends on who you ask in the sleep medicine world. Some doctors suggest that this type of rest is the most natural for our biological processes, which makes it also the healthiest. Other doctors argue that in modern society, its destructive, not practical and can cause some sleep problems and disorders.

The time between first and second sleep could be polluted by smartphones and obligations that make falling asleep the second time a greater challenge.

Our recommendation is to consult with your physician and see if this type of schedule will work for you. Gauge how you feel and make sure youre getting the recommended seven to nine hours of shuteye within a 24-hour period.

Interested in exploring further? See our complete guide to segmented sleep here.

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Getting A Good Nights Sleep Is All About How You Feel When You Wake Up Right

Imagine a Saturday morning when you open your eyes naturally and how peaceful that feels. Now imagine when your alarm goes off Monday morning and how hard it is to get out of bed. The interesting thing is that its not necessarily because you got less sleep. In fact, it has more to do with where you are in your sleep cycle when you wake up.

In this article, we explore the phases of your natural sleep cycle, when to sleep, and how to wake up refreshed. We look at how many hours of sleep are recommended and how to use a sleep cycle calculator to find the best time to wake up.

Short Sleep Duration By Sex Age And Race/ethnicity

Why Do We Dream?

In 2014, short sleep duration was less common among respondents aged 65 years compared with other age groups . The age-adjusted prevalence of short sleep duration was higher among Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders , non-Hispanic blacks , multiracial non-Hispanics , and American Indians/Alaska Natives compared with non-Hispanic whites , Hispanics , and Asians . Short sleep prevalence did not differ between men and women.

Table 1. Short Sleep Duration by Sex, Age, and Race/Ethnicity Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014

Short Sleep Duration by Sex, Age, and Race/Ethnicity Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2014


Abbreviations: CI = confidence interval.

aAge-adjusted to the 2000 US standard population.

bUnderage drinker is defined as any alcohol use among those aged 1820 yrs. Binge drinker is defined as 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men during a single occasion. Heavy drinker is defined as 8 drinks for women and 15 drinks for men per week.All differences statistically significant at p< 0.05 except excessive alcohol.

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How Long Is A Sleep Cycle

Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Or do you wake up feeling tired, or find yourself dozing off during the day?

Understanding sleep science and how your sleep cycle works can help you make lifestyle changes so you can sleep better and feel more rested throughout the day. Lets take a closer look at the different sleep cycles, why theyre all important, and how to make sure youre spending enough time in each one.

Choosing The Right Sleep Pattern For You

As mentioned, theres no one-size-fits-all solution to sleep and the best sleep cycle for you is to follow is whichever is going to leave you feeling as well-rested as possible. If you find that following the norm and getting eight hours of sleep a night works for you? Go for it. If catching six hours of shut-eye every night and supplementing it with a nap or two leaves you energized, knock yourself out. If spreading your sleep across shorter blocks throughout the day feels best? More power to you.

Just make sure that whatever sleep schedule you choose, you stay consistent.

Consistency is crucial to healthy sleep, no matter what sleep schedule you follow, says Breus.

And while it might feel challenging at first to switch sleep patterns , if you stick to a consistent schedule, your body will adjustand the quality of your sleep will improve right along with it.

While its up to you to choose whatever sleep schedule is best for you, if you have mental health issues, Breus highly recommends sticking to a monophasic sleep pattern. Depression and other mood disorders are associated with disruptions to circadian rhythms, as well as with disrupted sleep patterns and poor-quality sleep, says Breus. Attempting to use a segmented sleep schedule could destabilize sleep patterns and circadian rhythm, worsening sleep and exacerbating mood disorders.

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