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Do You Know Your Sleep Stages?

By DuPage Medical Group Sleep Medicine

Did you know there are multiple stages of sleep? From Stage 1 to REM sleep, your body functions differently during each stage. Learn more about the stages of sleep and how sleep impacts your overall health—mentally, physically and emotionally.

Stage 1

During stage 1 of sleep, sleep is very light and you tend to drift in and out. You can be awakened easily during this stage. Often, many individuals experience a falling sensation followed by sudden muscle contractions.

Stage 2

In stage 2 of sleep, eye movement stops and your brain waves decrease in activity. Occasionally, there will be a spike in rapid brain waves. You become disengaged from your surroundings as your breathing and heart rate stay regular. In addition, your body temperature drops which is why sleeping in a cool room is helpful.

Stages 3 and 4

Stages 3 and 4 are called deep sleep. In children, bedwetting, sleepwalking or night terrors occur during these stages. In addition, hormones that are responsible for growth and development are released.

Stage 3 produces extremely slow brain waves, called delta waves, which transfer into stage 4. These stages are the deepest and most restorative sleep. Your blood pressure drops, breathing becomes slower, and your muscles relax as blood supply increases. Tissue growth and repair occurs and your energy is restored. We spend about 30% of our night between stages 1, 3 and 4.

REM Sleep

People generally spend about 25% of the night in REM sleep. REM sleep occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and reoccurs about every 90 minutes, increasing in length later in the night. Dreams occur during REM sleep as brain activity increases. Your heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, breathing becomes more rapid, irregular, and shallow, and muscles are shut off becoming temporarily paralyzed.

REM sleep is important because it supports daytime performance and overall energy. As we age, we spend less and less time in REM sleep and the amount of sleep we seem to need decreases.

In infants, young children, and adolescents, sleep is extremely important in growth and development as well as concentration and overall health. For adults, sleep is important for concentration, proper mental functions and overall health. So, try to get those 6-8 hours!

If you find that you are having trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor to see what can be done to help improve your quality of sleep.


Topics and Subtopics: Sleep

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