Over time, research has shown us that good sleep is just as important to health as proper nutrition and regular exercise. The general recommendation for how much sleep you need is eight hours, but every person is different. Your body goes through multiple sleep cycles every night, and each sleep cycle is comprised of four distinct stages of sleep.
Your brain begins to produce slower brain waves as your body transitions from being awake to being asleep. Stage one is the lightest stage of sleep and only lasts for 5 to 10 minutes.
In stage two, your body temperature drops, and your breathing and heart rate become steadier. Your brain sends out faster brain waves called “sleep spindles”, and you lose awareness of your surroundings as you prepare to enter deep sleep.
Stage three is called “deep sleep” or “slow wave sleep” and it is the stage when your body focuses all of its energy on rejuvenation. Muscles relax, cells regrow, and tissues heal. Your immune system repairs and strengthens itself, and your brain sends out long, slow waves as it does its nightly “spring cleaning” to make space for future information.
Stage four is the “REM” sleep stage. Your breathing and heart rate increase, and your brain temporarily paralyzes your muscles while you dream. After completing stage four, your body starts at the beginning of the sleep cycle again. In a single night, you will experience anywhere from four to six complete sets of the sleep cycle.
To make sure your body is getting maximum benefits from each sleep stage, follow these tried and true tips for good sleep hygiene:
Have a consistent “wake up” time every day
If you drink coffee, drink it as early in the day as possible
If you take naps, take them early in the day and keep them short
Avoid large meals and exercise in the 3 hours leading up to bedtime
Start limiting blue light from screens about an hour before sleep
Set your thermostat close to 65 degrees
Have a consistent “go to sleep” time every night
Consider a supplement like magnesium to encourage muscle relaxation
If you don’t feel rested after sleeping, or if your body regularly feels stiff or tight after sleeping, that’s a good indication something is amiss. Call the office today if you are concerned about poor quality or quantity of sleep. We’ll help you get back on track in no time!
Cherry, Kendra. 2019.. The 4 Stages of Sleep (NREM and REM Sleep Cycles). VeryWell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920
Lockett, Eleesha. 2020. The Stages of Sleep: What Happens During Each. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/stages-of-sleep#fun-facts
Regan, Sarah. 2021. How To Spend More Time In Deep Sleep & Wake Up Feeling Energized. Mind Body Green. https://apple.news/AL7bugIrbTwSYg5mUQUhK9w
Suni, Eric. 2020. Stages of Sleep. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/stages-of-sleep#:~:text=In%20a%20typical%20night%2C%20a,last%20about%2090%20minutes%20each