Completing the sleep cycle several times each night is a vital part of leading a productive day and getting refreshing sleep. Knowing about the sleep cycle and completing the cycle each night may help you get deeper, more restorative sleep.
Throughout the night your body goes through various stages of sleep, which are each essential to refreshing, restorative sleep and overall wellbeing. The cycle includes deep sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and various stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.
NREM sleep occurs first, and consists of three stages:
- Stage 1 is the transition from being awake to falling asleep. During this stage, brain waves and muscle activity start to slow down. While in stage 1, you may experience the feeling of falling, which is followed by sudden muscle jerks.
- Stage 2 is a period of light sleep. During this stage, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower, with occasional bursts of rapid waves. You may have spontaneous periods of muscles tightening and relaxing. Your heart rate slows and body temperature drops.
- Stage 3 is deep sleep. Deep sleep is also referred to as slow wave sleep, which presents slow brain waves mixed with smaller, faster waves. It is most difficult to wake up from the deep sleep stage. During stage 3, blood pressure and body temperature drop, breathing slows and the body becomes immobile. The more sleep deprived you are, the longer your body will stay in the slow wave portion of the cycle.
Following these stages, REM sleep occurs. The REM stage is also important because during this stage the body restores memory and judgement. Dreams occur during REM sleep because it is the most active sleep with intense brain activity. This stage is also characterized by:
- Fast and desynchronized brain waves, similar to when the brain is awake
- Fast, irregular and shallow breathing
- Temporarily paralyzed muscles
- Increase heart rate and blood pressure
Each of these cycles are essential to experiencing refreshing and restorative sleep. The ultimate test of quality sleep is how you feel first thing in the morning, which can also indicate whether or not you completed the sleep cycle.
If you’re having trouble getting restorative sleep, deep sleep or feel that your REM sleep may be getting interrupted, you may need support. At Somnas, we’re here to help you sleep well and live well. If you’re still feeling groggy or tired when you wake up, we recommend meeting with a sleep specialist who can guide you before, during and after treatment.
Contact Somnas today to learn more about refreshing and restorative sleep, REM sleep, completing the sleep cycle, and methods for deeper sleep.