Why Do The Sleep Stages Matter
Sleep stages are important because they allow the brain and body to recuperate and develop. Failure to obtain enough of both deep sleep and REM sleep may explain some of the profound consequences of insufficient sleep on thinking, emotions, and physical health.
Sleepers who are frequently awoken during earlier stages, such as people with sleep apnea, may struggle to properly cycle into these deeper sleep stages. People with insomnia may not get enough total sleep to accumulate the needed time in each stage.
Wake Up Happier And More Refreshed
When analyzing your sleep-stage data, keep in mind that the percentages above are based on broad averages. To compare your stats to the averages of others who are the same age range and gender, click the sleep tile on your dashboard and then choose Benchmark. Even then, though, both Grandner and Siebern urge you to note that every individual has different sleep needs.
Everybodys a little different, says Grandner. As long as you give yourself enough time to sleep, and you dont have any kind of sleep disorder thats keeping you out of any certain stages of sleep, your body will figure it out using its own rhythms and drives.
Siebern agrees: We can do things to help improve the quality of our sleep, but we all have a baseline that determines how much of each sleep stage well get. There really is no ideal.
Ideal is whatever your body does given enough of an opportunity, says Grandner. Ask yourself, suggests Siebern, how you feel. If your sleep stages are falling outside the averages but you feel refreshed and engaged, then youre likely getting the quantity and quality of sleep you need. Use that as your baseline by which to compare future sleep sessions.
What Are The Sleep Stages
There are four sleep stages; one for rapid eye movement sleep and three that form non-REM sleep. These stages are determined based on an analysis of brain activity during sleep, which shows distinct patterns that characterize each stage.
|REM Sleep||10-60 minutes|
The breakdown of a persons sleep into various cycles and stages is commonly referred to as sleep architecture. If someone has a sleep study, this sleep architecture can be represented visually in a hypnogram.
The classification of sleep stages was by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine . Before that, most experts referred to five sleep stages, but today, the AASM definitions of the four stages represent the consensus understanding of the sleep cycle.
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Don’t Struggle To Sleep In Bed
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, as occurs with insomnia, dont lie awake, struggling in bedyour body may start to think it’s a place for difficulties.;Individuals who have difficulty initiating sleep often toss and turn in bed, trying to force sleep to come. If this happens night after night, you may begin to associate your bed with the anxiety of not being able to sleep. If you’re unable to get to sleep within 15 minutes of going to bed, go to another quiet place and lie down until you feel ready to fall asleep, then return to your bedroom to sleep.
Healthy Sleep Habits And How To Improve Your Sleep Cycles:
Everyone is different and the amount of sleep we need varies for each individual. Yet there are a few common factors that can help improve the quality of your sleep. Waking up several times during the night for a prolonged period of time will most likely result in achieving less of NREM stage 3 sleep, that is, deep sleep.;
Over time this can affect your sleep quality and cause sleepiness and lack of focus during the day. Keeping a diary to note whether external factors, such as alcohol, caffeine intake, or stress contribute to a restless nights sleep can be helpful for you to understand what steps you can take to improve your sleep. Making sure your bedroom is dark and cool and developing a routine that helps you wind down before bedtime can also lead to a better nights sleep.;
Sleep and the quality of our sleep are fundamental to our well-being. Sleep cycles, and the sleep stages within them, are the reason we can take on each new day. So stay calm and carry on sleeping. ;
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Dreaming And Rem Sleep
We typically spend more than 2 hours each night dreaming. Scientists do not know much about how or why we dream. Sigmund Freud, who greatly influenced the field of psychology, believed dreaming was a “safety valve” for unconscious desires. The strange, illogical experiences we call dreams almost always occur during REM sleep.
REM sleep begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called the pons These signals travel to a brain region called the thalamus , which relays them to the cerebral cortex – the outer layer of the brain that is responsible for learning, thinking, and organizing information.
The pons also sends signals that shut off neurons in the spinal cord, causing temporary paralysis of the limb muscles. If something interferes with this paralysis, people will begin to physically “act out” their dreams – a rare, dangerous problem called REM sleep behavior disorder.
A person dreaming about a ball game, for example, may run headlong into furniture or blindly strike someone sleeping nearby while trying to catch a ball in the dream.
REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in learning. Like deep sleep, REM sleep is associated with increased production of proteins. One study found that REM sleep affects learning of certain mental skills. People taught a skill and then deprived of non-REM sleep could recall what they had learned after sleeping, while people deprived of REM sleep could not.
Waste Clearance From The Brain
During sleep, metabolic waste products, such as immunoglobulins, protein fragments or intact proteins like beta-amyloid, may be cleared from the interstitium via a glymphatic system of lymph-like channels coursing along perivascular spacesand the astrocyte network of the brain. According to this model, hollow tubes between the blood vessels and astrocytes act like a spillway allowing drainage of cerebrospinal fluid carrying wastes out of the brain into systemic blood. Such mechanisms, which remain under preliminary research as of 2017, indicate potential ways in which sleep is a regulated maintenance period for brain immune functions and clearance of beta-amyloid, a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Get Thoughts Off Your Mind And Onto Paper
Persistent worries can also cause some people to have difficulty falling asleep. If this happens to you, consider keeping a notepad beside your bed to jot down random thoughts that pop up. Writing down your thoughts can ease your mind, especially if you feel like you need to remember them for the next day.
Stage 3 And : Deep Sleep Nrem
Stage 3 and 4 are known as deep sleep or delta sleep as they are characterized by the presence of delta brainwaves, slow rhythmic breathing, a slow heart rate, and no muscle movement. This stage lasts between 20-40 minutes and is the most restorative stage for your physical body.
The difference between stage 3 and stage 4 of deep sleep is the proportion of delta waves present. During stage 3, brainwave activity contains between 20 and 50 percent, while stage 4 shows delta waves accounting for over 50 percent of brain activity. It is worth noting that many sleep experts now combine the two stages into one stage, or stage 3.;
Dreaming can occur during deep sleep, but dreams are less common, less memorable, and less intense than in REM sleep. Dreams may be recapitulations of mundane events that we easily forget upon waking. Brain activity is minimal; however, there is the potential for dissociated sleep states, or parasomnias,; like sleepwalking and night terrors.;
The primary function of deep sleep is to restore, rebuild, and repair cellular, physiological, and immune function. Studies show that the brain releases human growth hormone during deep sleep, which aids in musculoskeletal development in growing children and regulates metabolism, muscle and bone growth, and body composition in adults.
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Your Brain While You Sleep
Several parts of the brain are involved in sleep and wakefulness. These areas include the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal forebrain, pineal gland, and portions of the brainstem. When a person sleeps is determined by the interaction of their bodys circadian rhythm and sleep homeostasis. The circadian rhythm acts as the bodys internal clock and is controlled by circadian oscillator cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. It roughly corresponds to a 24 hour cycle, although it is affected by external light and temperature. Sleep homeostasis, or sleep drive, determines the length of wakefulness and the intensity of sleep when it occurs. Although the exact mechanism controlling this drive is poorly understood, it is thought to be related to the release of the neurotransmitters GABA and adenosine from the basal forebrain and other surrounding areas.
Although the thalamus, basal forebrain, and brainstem promote wakefulness through release of stimulatory hormones, the hypothalamus in particular drives the awake state with hormones such as glutamate, histamine, and orexin. However, as the time for sleep approaches based on the circadian rhythm and sleep drive, these hypothalamic signals decrease to allow sleep to begin. The central autonomic system and the pineal gland are also influenced by the sleep drive to appropriately affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems for the changes in bodily functions seen during the stages of sleep.
Sleep Influenced By Food Medications Chemicals Temperature
Since sleep and wakefulness are influenced by different neurotransmitter signals in the brain, foods and medicines that change the balance of these signals affect whether we feel alert or drowsy and how well we sleep.
- Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and drugs such as diet pills and decongestants stimulate some parts of the brain and can cause insomnia, or an inability to sleep.
- Many antidepressants suppress REM sleep.
- Heavy smokers often sleep very lightly and have reduced amounts of REM sleep. They also tend to wake up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep due to nicotine withdrawal.
Many people who suffer from insomnia try to solve the problem with alcohol – the so-called night cap. While alcohol does help people fall into light sleep, it also robs them of REM and the deeper, more restorative stages of sleep. Instead, it keeps them in the lighter stages of sleep, from which they can be awakened easily.
People lose some of the ability to regulate their body temperature during REM, so abnormally hot or cold temperatures in the environment can disrupt this stage of sleep.
If our REM sleep is disrupted one night, our bodies don’t follow the normal sleep cycle progression the next time we doze off. Instead, we often slip directly into REM sleep and go through extended periods of REM until we “catch up” on this stage of sleep.
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Sleep Stages Within The Sleep Cycle: A Breakdown
Each of the four sleep stages has a distinct purpose, sparking unique brain activity. As we move through the stages, our breathing slows down, our muscles begin to relax and our heartbeat slows all of this helps to recharge our mind and body as we sleep. Even though the brain remains hard at work during sleep, it is restorative labor!
Table credit:Sleep Foundation
Our understanding of sleep stages keeps evolving:Prior to 2007, many sleep experts referred to five sleep stages. After a study was released by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine , the majority consensus was updated to confirm that there are four sleep stages within a sleep cycle.;;
What Are The Different Stages Of Sleep
Our sleep consists of four distinct stages of sleep, which we transition through in a sleep cycle.
One important thing to know before we start discussing the different stages of sleep is that there are two basic types of sleep: rapid eye movement sleep and non-REM sleep. Out of the four different stages of sleep, the first three stages belong to the NREM type of sleep and the final stage belongs to the REM type.
Each of these stages helps carry out many different beneficial functions such as memory reinforcement and tissue repair.
Similarly, each stage also has its own distinct patterns of brain activity and lasts for different durations of time. If the duration of sleep is not long enough, some of these stages may be cut short and your body will suffer as a result.
Initially, it was believed that sleep consisted of five stages, but in 2007 the American Academy of Sleep Medicine under consensus, and now only 4 stages are believed to exist.
The overall structure of the four sleep stages and cycles throughout a nights rest is referred to as sleep architecture.
Studying the sleep architecture as whole helps build a complete and detailed image of what a persons sleep looks like. This data can be visually represented as a graph called a hypnogram, which is created using an electroencephalogram during a sleep study .
|Stage Of Sleep|
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How Does Paradoxical Intention Treat Insomnia
Rather than attempting to force yourself to sleepin a sense, to perform on-demandyou instead remain passively awake without any effort to fall asleep. With training, you stop “trying” to sleep . Quiet wakefulness becomes an acceptable alternative. Cognitive distraction, including breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery, may also prove to be helpful.
Paradoxical intention can be achieved by staying awake until you feel sleepy and then going to bed. Retire to the bedroom and turn out the lights and preserve the sleep environment as a place conducive to rest and sleep . Lie quietly with your eyes closed. Instead of focusing on getting to sleep, try to stay awake. Surprisingly, you may find that you fall asleep faster in these conditions.
The anxiety of not being able to sleep is thus gradually relieved as you learn to accept quiet wakefulness as an acceptable alternative when you are in bed.
Paradoxical intention may be particularly helpful in people who have insomnia that is characterized by a difficulty falling asleep at the start of the night. It has been demonstrated to be effective and has no risks of side effects.
Repair Work In Progress
During deep sleep , your cells repair and rebuild, and hormones are secreted to promote bone and muscle growth. Your body also uses deep sleep to strengthen your immunity so you can fight off illness and infection.
It’s important to realize that sleep does not progress through the four stages in perfect sequence.
When you have a full night of uninterrupted sleep, the stages progress as follows:
Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to NREM stage 2 before beginning the cycle all over again.
Time spent in each stage changes throughout the night as the cycle repeats .
Sleep architecture refers to the exact cycles and stages a person experiences in a night. A sleep specialist may show you this information on what’s known as a hypnograma graph produced by an EEG.
Make Sleep A Priority
Dont sacrifice sleep to do daytime activities.;The most important advice is to respect that your body needs to sleep. Too often, we allow our sleep time to be infringed upon when our daytime obligations take longer than anticipated. Additionally, opportunities to engage in pleasurable activities visiting friends, watching television, playing on the internet, eating out, and any number of othersquickly cut into our sleep time if we allow them to. It’s important to schedule your sleep time and stick to that schedule, no matter what might come up during the day.
What Does A Full Sleep Cycle Look Like
During an average nights sleep, we move through all four stages of sleep several times, alternating between non-REM and REM sleep. As we go through stages 1 to 3, our brain waves begin to slow, yet when we get to REM sleep, our brain wave activity resembles that of wakefulness.
The average length of our initial full sleep cycle is around 70-100 minutes. However, this changes as the night progresses, with later cycles averaging 90-120 minutes.
Studies have found that our initial sleep cycle moves sequentially through stages 1, 2 and 3 then reverts back to stage 2 before entering REM sleep. After the initial sleep cycle we go from REM sleep straight to stage 2. We continue the same sequence roughly five times throughout the night, with the length of REM sleep increasing as morning draws nearer. As mentioned previously, stage 2 makes up the majority of our sleep cycle, with stage 3 sometimes disappearing altogether.
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Is Light Sleep Good
Light sleep is a non-REM or NREM sleep stage, and its easiest to wake up during this time. It occurs in stages 1-2. Light sleep may not sound very important, but it is a part of our sleep cycle that we need to wake up feeling refreshed from restful sleep. The first stage of light sleep is a transition phase and only makes up about 3% of our total sleep time; most light sleep happens in the second stage. The second stage of light sleep consists of over half of our time asleep each night. We are able to fall asleep and dream during this stage, but the dreams are not as intense as they are during REM sleep.
Typically as people age, they spend more time each night in light sleep. There is no specific amount of time needed in this phase since its not as refreshing as deep sleep. However, light sleep is still a necessary sleep stage for proper brain activity.