Our bodies have four distinct sleep phases. The first two stages of the night, also known as “N1”, are light sleep. During this stage, our brain becomes less responsive to the outside world, and we tend to slow down our thoughts. Our body is mostly still during this stage, so it’s the best time to dream. During the second half of the night, we are deep asleep. Scientists believe that this is when we store long-term memories.
The third stage of your sleep cycle, or REM, begins approximately 90 minutes after you fall asleep. REM sleep involves increased brain activity, rapid eye movement, and an increase of heart rate and blood pressure. It’s during this phase that most dreams take place. Arms and legs become paralyzed during REM sleep, so you can’t physically act out your dreams. REM sleep is essential for memory consolidation, so people aged 20 and older typically spend less time in this stage.
Earlier research on sleep was limited, mainly because we thought of it as a passive activity. The body’s activities in sleep are critical for maintaining mental, physical, and emotional health. Research has shown that cycling through all stages of sleep promotes optimal physical and cognitive health. An expert can help you find a holistic approach to sleeping. Don’t forget to get a good night of sleep. Your body will feel guilty if you don’t get enough sleep.
Deep sleep causes less activity in certain brain areas, including the emotional, decision making, and social. That may allow us to maintain optimum emotional and social functioning when we’re awake. A study in rats also revealed that repetitive nerve signaling patterns were present during deep sleep. This could help us learn better and encode memories. Deep sleep is a complex process, and it’s easy to overlook.
During a typical night, people go through all four stages of sleep. Each stage is comprised of 90-120 minute cycles, and the phases shift throughout the night. REM sleep, which is characterized by rapid eye movements, tends to be longer than non-REM sleep. The brain waves in each stage change from rapid to slow, which is why we feel refreshed and energetic during the day. The brain waves continue to slow during Stage 2 of sleep and are the easiest to awaken during this stage.
While these factors are essential for healthy sleep, some factors may interfere with getting the right amount of sleep. People who wake up frequently are not getting enough sleep, and their circadian rhythms are disrupted. They may be missing deeper sleep stages by sleeping in or taking naps. Variability in sleep patterns has been linked with metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. It is important to listen to your body’s signals to tell you when it’s time for sleep.
Light sleep is characterized by a slowing down of the heart rate, a decrease in body temperature, and a slower movement of muscles. It begins the process of memory consolidation. The spindles look like small sewing machine spindles and are believed to transmit messages to the brain. The brain uses these spindles to consolidate memories, converting short-term memories into long-term ones. Light sleep is typically about 25 minutes long. These stages of sleep are crucial to the brain’s ability to recall and process information.
The fourth stage of sleep, also known as REM (rapid eye movement) is called REM. This is when dreams occur and when heart and breathing rates increase. It paralyzes most muscles and makes it necessary to be aware during REM sleep in order to get the best quality sleep. Deep sleep is the next stage of sleep and is the most restorative. A deeper, more restful sleep is crucial to a person’s health.