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What are the stages of Healthy Sleep?

Let’s find out!



When you think of your sleep cycle, you might simply define it as ‘awake’ versus ‘asleep’. In reality, there are multiple stages during effective sleep, and each has a purpose in laying the foundations for a healthy lifestyle. Read on and I will answer the question; what are the basic components of your sleep?

4 Stages of a healthy sleep

Image: verywellhealth.com, 2019. The 4 Stages of Sleep. [image] Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-four-stages-of-sleep-2795920 [Accessed 29 December 2020].

NREM

NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep can be broken down into distinct stages, ranging from N1 to N3. Each stage slows your breathing, heart rate and brain activity.

N1

The first stage, N1, occurs as you shift from being awake and alert into a restful, relaxed state. As your nervous system begins to focus on internal affairs, the level of activity in your brain becomes less erratic. This stage is essentially the ‘descent’ into a restful sleep.

N2

N2 is the second stage. Here, we prepare ourselves to enter deep sleep. Our system settles even further, our temperature lowers, and our eyes stop moving beneath our lids. This is where we spend most of our sleeping time on any given night.

N3

N3 is defined as deep sleep and is vital to our health. It is in this third stage that our body repairs itself, releasing important hormones such as melatonin, the ‘sleepy hormone’. Did you know that melatonin also interacts with our immune system? Some studies suggest it works to counteract immunodeficiency and help fight against the disease.

REM

REM (Rapid Eye-Movement) sleep is the time during the night that you dream. Activity in the brain increases as you do so, and it has been suggested that memory collection and retention rely heavily on the REM stage to function properly.

REM sleep usually begins about an hour and a half after we first enter our NREM sleep stage N1. As we continue to move through each sleep stage, REM time lengthens. This may explain why we better remember dreams that have formed closer to morning; the longer we spend experiencing them, the more likely we are to retain the memory.

Image: Ted & Stacey’s Mattress Guides, 2020. REM (RAPID EYE MOVEMENT). [image] Available at: https://www.mattress-guides.net/blog/rem-sleep/ [Accessed 29 December 2020].

Our bodies move through the sleep cycle multiple times during the night. It is important to allow our body to cycle through each, without interruption, if we are to reap the health benefits of an effective, restful sleep.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the components of your sleep! Join us next time for more information on maintaining a healthy sleep cycle.