Sleep, everybody does it – However, not many people are aware of what goes on behind closed eyes. It’s interesting. When we’re catching ZZZ’s, our body goes through several sleep cycles. Your first sleep cycle can last 70-100 minutes and any sleep cycle after can last 90- 120 minutes.
Formerly, experts had divided sleep cycles into five stages; They’ve recently knocked it down to four. Stages 1-3 are Non-REM (dreamless), and stage 4 is REM (rapid eye movement – aka, dream land).
Let’s take a further look into this, shall we?
Stage 1: Light sleep
Ah, the transition phase from being awake to falling asleep. The phase that always gets me in trouble when watching a movie with my boyfriend. During this stage, although you are sleeping, you can be easily woken up. You may also experience sudden muscle jerks or have the sensation of falling which can also wake you or gets you caught when you’re fake watching movies. This stage lasts around 5-10 minutes.
Stage 2: Light sleep but a little heavier
This stage is also a light period of sleep. However, we become less aware of our surroundings, and our sleep starts to get serious, and waking up isn’t as easy. During this time eye movement stops, brain waves are slower, and there is bursts of rapid waves known as sleep spindles. The heart rate begins to slow down, body temperature drops and the muscles start to relax. It’s said that we spend about half of our time sleeping in this stage. This stage lasts around 20 minutes.
Stage 3: Slow wave sleep/deep sleep
At this point, we’ve entered into a deep sleeping state. We become less responsive to our surroundings and will sleep through most disturbances. Our blood pressure falls, breathing slows, body temperatures continue to drop, and our bodies become immobile. During this stage, it’s difficult to wake someone- If woken up you may feel groggy or disoriented for several minutes, you may even come across as a little creepy (been there, done that).
Stage 4: REM (Rapid Eye Movement)
The best place to catch a dream! REM typically begins about 90 minutes after initially falling asleep and can last up to an hour. During REM, eyes start moving rapidly in all directions, brain activity increases, heart rates increase, and breathing becomes fast and may be irregular. Due to the increase in brain activity, this is when most dreaming occurs, and voluntary muscles become paralyzed to keep us from harming ourselves. Imagine if we acted out our dreams? That’s a scary thought.
There you have it, the stages of sleep!