Every night when your head hits that pillow you’re not just snoozing but your body is actually going through its sleep cycle. A sleep cycle can vary in length but typically, adults can filter through the cycle 4-6 times and contains 4 different stages:
Sleep Stage 1/ N1
Stage 1 can range anywhere from 1-5 minutes and occurs as you begin to doze off. You're not fully relaxed yet and at this stage, you're easy to wake. While your brain and body start to relax, you will quickly move into stage 2 - assuming you are not disturbed!
Sleep Stage 2 / N2
As you enter stage 2 your body drops in temperature, muscles relax and your heart rate slows. This stage can last between 10-25 minutes during the first cycle of sleep but collectively, you actually spend 50% of your overall sleep in this stage.
Sleep Stage 3/ N3: Deep Sleep
In stage 3, your body continues to relax even further and you become very difficult to wake. Science believes this is the most restorative sleep stage and supports bold recovery, insightful thinking, creativity and memory. You will tend to spend more time in stage 3 during the earlier sleep cycles of the night.
Sleep Stage 4: REM Sleep
The last stage of sleep is typically referred to as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep as your eyes can be seen moving quickly while still closed. This final stage is essential to memory, learning, and creativity. Your brain activity will start to increase slightly as you would be nearing waking and thus minimal dreaming happens at this stage.
While each stage serves its purpose, it can cause sleep problems when you're not moving from each stage in the appropriate manner and it's commonly the cause for restless nights and tiredness. Knowing these stages can aid you in identifying the sleep issue you may be dealing with!
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