Sleep isn’t just falling into some unconscious realm and waking up refreshed. Sleep is made up of cycles. You progress (in a more or less orderly fashion) through Non-REM stages 1, 2 and 3. Next comes REM sleep and then you start all over again. Each complete cycle takes from 90 to 110 minutes. Here’s what you experience and some facts about each stage.
Stage One is when you are drifting in and out of sleep. Your eyes are closed but you’re not deeply asleep.
- In Stage One sleep, you are easily awakened.
- This is where that “falling” sensation occurs. This may be caused by all your muscles relaxing at one time and it is usually followed by sudden muscle contractions.
Stage Two is still a fairly light sleep, but you’re starting to physically become more “at rest.”
- Eye movements and brain waves both become slower.
- Your heart rate slows and your body temperature drops.
- You are still experiencing an occasional burst of rapid brain waves.
Stage Three is the deep, restorative sleep you want. It’s your delta wave sleep – when extremely slow delta brain waves are almost exclusive.
- It is very difficult to wake you up and when you are awakened you are likely to feel disoriented.
- There is no muscle or eye movement.
- Your body is repairing and re-growing tissues, building bone and muscle and strengthening your immune system.
This is the sleep stage where children are more likely to wet the bed, walk in their sleep or have sleep terrors.
REM or rapid eye movement sleep is when you can have intense dreams.
- Your brain waves during this stage increase the levels experienced when you are awake.
- Heart rates increases and blood pressure rises, but you may lose some ability to regulate temperature.
- Males develop erections
- The first REM period is usually about 10 minutes long, but the REM periods increase in time as you experience more sleep cycles. The last REM cycle may be an hour long.
- Babies spend up to 50% of their sleep in REM sleep; adults only spend about 20% there and about half their time in Stage 2.
- As you age, you have less REM sleep.
Those are your sleep cycles and if you want to travel through them smoothly and restfully, you need a mattress – like the #bestmattressever – that is going to cushion you with full-body support no matter what stage you’re in or how much you’re moving.