What Is The Sleep Cycle
Sleep is not uniform. Instead, over the course of the night, your total sleep is made up of several rounds of the sleep cycle, which is composed of four individual stages. In a typical night, a person goes through four to six sleep cycles. Not all sleep cycles are the same length, but on average they last about 90 minutes each.
A Refresher On The Sleep Cycle
During a typical night, you cycle through all the stages of non-REM and REM sleep several times. Heres the rundown of what happens during NREM sleep, before you start dreaming:
- NREM Stage 1: This is your body literally falling asleep. In the first couple of minutes, your eye movements, breathing, and heart rate start to slow down, and your muscles might even twitch as they relax. Its the lightest stage of sleep, so any little noise or disturbance can wake you right up.
- NREM Stage 2: Youre now drifting into steadier light sleep. Your eyes have stopped moving, your body temperature starts dropping, and your brain is managing fewer complicated tasks. Youre here for about 15 to 20 minutes before deep sleep sets in. .
- NREM Stage 3 and 4: You enter deep sleep. Your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and brain wave activity have slowed to their lowest levels. Your body is now in Do Not Disturb mode, making it extremely hard to wake up at this point . These periods of deep sleep are known to be the restorative stages that help you feel well-rested and refreshed when you wake up in the morning.
The first half of your night is spent mostly in stage 3 and 4. As the night goes on, your deep sleep reduces, and your REM sleepoften called the fifth stage of sleepincreases.
Resist The Urge To Scroll
Although you may enjoy lying in bed and scrolling through social media, research has shown that using electronic devices for at least before sleeping can result in poor sleep quality. If you think this contributes to your sleep struggles, consider having a no device in the bedroom policy to see if that helps.
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How Much Sleep Does A Person Need
The average adult should receive at least seven hours of sleep for every 24-hour cycle. Sleeping less than seven hours can leave you more vulnerable to different diseases and medical conditions, and also affect your ability to concentrate and increase your risk of errors and accidents. That said, the sufficient amount of sleep for a given individual depends on their age.
Insufficient sleep creates a problem known as sleep debt. Let’s say you are an adult 18 years or older who receives six hours of sleep every night. Just one week of inadequate rest produces seven hours of sleep debt. Napping can provide a quick pick-me-up, but it does not deliver the same restorative functions of nightly sleep. As a result, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to serious health problems down the road.
Five Stages Of Sleep:
Stage 1: In stage 1, we enter the transition state as we fall asleep and begin our first “sleep cycle“. This light sleep stage lasts up to 2-5 minutes. If sleep remains uninterrupted it will progress to stage 2 sleep. Stage 1 gives 2-5 % of normal sleepStage 2:Stage 2 is much deeper sleep than stage 1. The brain waves go into theta mode, and lead into stages 3 and 4 in around 10-20 minutes. Stage 2 sleep occupies approximately 50-65% of our sleep time, lasting 15-30 minutes in each cycle. During the second part of the night we spend more and more time alternating between stages 2 & REM sleep.
Stage 3:Stage 3 is much deeper sleep than stage 2. The muscles are relaxed, heart rate slows down, blood pressure falls, and breathing is steady and even. Brain activity slows down noticeably from the theta pattern of stage 2 to a much slower rhythm of 1 to 2 cycles per second called delta sleep system, and the height, or amplitude, of the waves increases.
Stage 4: Stage 4 is deepest sleep of all, during which a sleeping person is ‘dead to the world’. Blood pressure and heart rate change and the sleeper’s brain heats up. Delta sleep system is characterized by very high voltage slow brain waves.
Stage 5 REM : The first REM period lasts only about ten minutes. After that, the sleeper goes back into a deep stage 4 sleep or delta sleep system. Again, the sleeper returns into a REM stage after a short period, and cycles through REM and stage 4 continue until the sleeper wakes up.
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Discovery And Further Research
Recognition of different types of sleep can be seen in the literature of ancient India and Rome. Observers have long noticed that sleeping dogs twitch and move but only at certain times.
In 1937, the German scientist Richard Klaue first discovered a period of fast electrical activity in the brains of sleeping cats. In 1944, Ohlmeyer reported 90-minute ultradian sleep cycles involving male erections lasting for 25 minutes. At University of Chicago in 1952, Eugene Aserinsky, Nathaniel Kleitman, and William C. Dement, discovered phases of rapid eye movement during sleep, and connected these to dreaming. Their article was published September 10, 1953. Aserinsky, then Kleitman, first observed the eye movements and accompanying neuroelectrical activity in their own children.
William Dement advanced the study of REM deprivation, with experiments in which subjects were awoken every time their EEG indicated the beginning of REM sleep. He published “The Effect of Dream Deprivation” in June 1960.
Why Does Rem Sleep Occur A Wake
- Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, Texas A& M University, College Station, TX, USA
Herein is presented the notion that rapid eye movement sleep is a sleeping brains attempt to recover consciousness from the disruption of deep sleep. The rationale derives from the following self-evident fact: awakening from deep sleep requires the brain to become less sleepy by re-organizing its circuitry toward the threshold for conscious wakefulness. REM may well be a mechanism for moving the brain state in that direction. REM may be a spontaneously triggered state that occurs when the brain has had enough slow-wave sleep .
Rapid eye movement normally occurs only after long sequence of SWS stages, initially dominated by deep Stage N3 . Hereafter, I will use N3 any time I am referring to the more familiar term, Stage IV. In N3 the complex neural network inter-relationships necessary to create and sustain wakefulness must surely be obliterated. REM also promotes numerous conscious-like dreams. Also, the last awakening from a nights sleep typically occurs in a REM episode during a dream, suggesting that the threshold for wakefulness has been reached. These observations lead to the hypothesis that REM might be the brains way to awaken itself after it has had a sufficient amount of SWS.
The inherent speculation in any hypothesis needs to meet four criteria. The hypothesis must,
have evidence to suggest it
yield predictive and explanatory power
What Does A Normal Night Look Like
The amount of each phase of sleep can vary significantly between nights and individuals. During an ideal nights sleep, your body has enough time to go through four to five 90-minute cycles that sample different phases of sleep as the night progresses.
In general, each cycle moves sequentially through each stage of sleep: wake, light sleep, deep sleep, REM, and repeat. Cycles earlier in the night tend to have more deep sleep while later cycles have a higher proportion of REM. By the final cycle, your body may even choose to skip deep sleep altogether.
Overall, your body spends the majority of the night in light sleep. How much time you spend in REM or deep can vary widely by individual but below are the averages you can expect for each stage in a single night.
Difference Between Deep Sleep And Rem Sleep
All sleep is not the same. Deep sleep and REM, for instance, are two different forms of sleep which are often confused with one another. Each of these is a different stage of sleep, have specific characteristics. There are basically five stages of sleep. Deep sleep and REM are stages three and four of the sleep cycle.
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What Affects Sleep Quality
Chemical signals in the brain influence our sleep and wake cycles. Anything that shifts the balance of these neurotransmitters can make us feel drowsier or more awake. For example:
- Alcohol may help people fall into a light sleep. But it reduces the deeper stages of sleep and REM sleep and leads to more disrupted sleep.
- Caffeine and pseudoephedrine can stimulate the brain. They may cause insomnia, an inability to sleep. Watch out for caffeinated drinks such as coffee and drugs such as diet pills and decongestants.
- Medications such as antidepressants can cause less REM sleep.
- People who smoke heavily often sleep lightly and have less REM sleep. They may wake up after a few hours because they experience nicotine withdrawal.
- Very hot or cold temperatures can disrupt REM sleep. Were less able to regulate body temperature during REM sleep.
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.
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Are All Sleep Cycles The Same
It is normal for sleep cycles to change as you progress through your nightly sleep. The first sleep cycle is often the shortest, ranging from 70-100 minutes, while later cycles tend to fall between 90 and 120 minutes. In addition, the composition of each cycle how much time is spent in each sleep stage changes as the night goes along.
Sleep cycles can vary from person to person and from night to night based on a wide range of factors such as age, recent sleep patterns, and alcohol consumption.
How Do You Know How Much Rem Sleep Youre Getting
With the WHOOP Strap 3.0, you can monitor your nights sleep in detail and learn exactly how much time you spend in each stage of sleep. The WHOOP app also features a Sleep Coach that uses your own circadian rhythm to recommend daily bed and wake times to optimize the quality of your sleep.
WHOOP will let you know how much REM sleep youre getting and help give you a better understanding of what you can do to get more of it.
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Circulation Respiration And Thermoregulation
Generally speaking, the body suspends homeostasis during paradoxical sleep. Heart rate, cardiac pressure, cardiac output, arterial pressure, and breathing rate quickly become irregular when the body moves into REM sleep. In general, respiratory reflexes such as response to hypoxia diminish. Overall, the brain exerts less control over breathing electrical stimulation of respiration-linked brain areas does not influence the lungs, as it does during non-REM sleep and in waking. The fluctuations of heart rate and arterial pressure tend to coincide with PGO waves and rapid eye movements, twitches, or sudden changes in breathing.
Erections of the penis normally accompany REM sleep in rats and humans. If a male has erectile dysfunction while awake, but has NPT episodes during REM, it would suggest that the ED is from a psychological rather than a physiological cause. In females, erection of the clitoris causes enlargement, with accompanying vaginal blood flow and transudation . During a normal night of sleep, the penis and clitoris may be erect for a total time of from one hour to as long as three and a half hours during REM.
You May Have Heard The Term But Do You Know What It Means Understanding The Importance Of Rem Helps Explain Why A Solid Nights Sleep Is So Important
Most people climb into bed at night without ever thinking about the different stages of sleep that their brain and body cycle through or how these stages can affect their health. But understanding the role of REM sleep is important. This particular stage of sleep has a major impact on your memory, mental focus, and mood.
In this article youll learn about what REM is, why the REM portion of your sleep is so important, and how to make sure youre achieving the right amount every night.
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William Dement: The Father Of Sleep
William Dement: The Father of Sleep
How do we know anything about sleep if we are, well, asleep? We canât administer a questionnaire mid nap or have people have a conversation while unconscious. Fortunately, we have a man named Dr. William Dement to thank for most of what we know about sleep.
Dr. Dement, known as the âFather of Sleep Medicine,â is a Washington state-native who had dreams of becoming a journalist. Unfortunately, all of the journalism classes at the University of Washington were full, so Dement opted to enroll in an introduction to psychology course instead.
He found this class to be so interesting that he scrapped his plans of becoming a journalist and decided he wanted to become a psychoanalyst .
After attending the University of Washington, Dement went on to the University of Chicago School of Medicine where the only person studying sleep was faculty member Nathaniel Kleitman . The two began to work together in the 1950s, making some of the greatest sleep discoveries in the field. Their first discovery, in 1953, was that of rapid eye movement sleep .
About the Author
Charlotte Ruhl is a member of the Class of 2022 at Harvard University. She studies Psychology with a minor in African American Studies. On campus, Charlotte works at an implicit social cognition research lab, is an editor for the undergraduate law review, and plays softball.
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Sleep : Everything You Need To Know About Rem Sleep
Every year, the top sleep scientists in the world, including myself, gather to discuss recent discoveries in the world of sleep, with REM sleep being one of the most popular topics.
Despite many unknowns and unknowables in the field of sleep, as scientists, we can agree that there is one type of sleep that helps us to maximize creativity, learning, and information retention.
What type of sleep is this?
In fact, I even had the opportunity to sit down and hear about the trials and tribulations of discovering REM sleep from the original discoverer of REM sleep himself: Dr. William C. Dement .
We talked about many topics, such as:
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Why Do Some People Have Unusual Sleep Spindles
Unusual sleep spindle activity is related to multiple different physical and mental health issues. Scientists are interested in understanding how sleep spindles relate to different conditions, in order to better diagnose and predict the onset of these diseases.
Aging: Sleep spindle activity changes in some people as they age. In older adults, sleep spindles happen less often, and they tend to be smaller and last for less time. Reduced spindle activity has implications for memory and learning, and it is linked to memory impairment in people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimers disease.
Chronic Pain: More research is needed, but chronic pain appears to be associated with reduced sleep spindle activity. Increased sleep spindles are associated with a decrease in pain, suggesting that a treatment that increases sleep spindles could be a potential chronic pain therapy.
Coma: When a person is in a coma, they do not usually experience normal sleep stages. Researchers propose that the appearance of sleep spindles in a coma is a good sign, and indicates that the person is more likely to come out of the coma.
Neurological Disorders: People who experience neurological disorders, such as Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, and dementia, tend to have a lower than normal spindle density. This finding suggests sleep spindle reduction could be connected with cognitive decline in these disorders.
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Exercise To Promote Quality Sleep
Physical activity during waking hours can help you fall asleep more easily. However, the timing of exercise can matter. If activity tends to boost your energy levels, working out too close to bedtime can hamper your ability to doze off.
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What Are Sleep Disorders
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: