Each one of the stages of sleep has a different purpose, and helps you in a different way. Find out which are most important in this article.
Stage 1 – Eyes Closed / Drifting
In this first phase your eyes are closed and you are drifting off into a light sleep. It’s relatively easy for you to be woken up when you are like this, usually only requiring a very small amount of external stimuli to do so. This stage only lasts between a few minutes and a quarter of an hour.
You may find your eyes opening and closing slowly, or rolling behind your eyelids. Your brain produces alpha-waves as you gradually fall asleep.
Stage 2 – Light Sleep
Your heart rate slows as does your breathing and you enter the light stage of sleep. It’s still relatively easy to be woken up at the start of this stage and you might feel just as tired since you havent yet had any of the restorative deep sleep.
Your brain starts to produce theta waves and it becomes gradually harder to wake you up as this phase continues.
Stage 3 – Deep Sleep
You will spend most of the night in this stage of sleep, interspersed with periods of REM activity (see below). When you are woken during this stage you may feel groggy or disoriented for a few minutes whilst you wake up.
It is during this phase that your body undergoes its repair work, healing, creating new cells and building new connections in the brain. Your brain produces delta waves and you become less responsive to your environment.
Stage R – REM Sleep
Often called the dream phase this is where our mind is most active, initially a ten minute or so period of light REM activity which will grow in duration throughout the night. Many people will experience their longest period of REM sleep just before they wake up.
Variety: Stages of Sleep
Throughout the night you switch between the various stages of sleep.
You begin with stage 1, light sleep and then enter a cycle of alternating deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep phases. Ideally you should aim to wake up during one of the light sleep phases to reduce the amount of ‘sleep hangover’ you feel when waking up. You can check out some gadgets that help you to do this here : Sleep Tracking – Monitor & Improve Your Sleep