Medbroadcast  Powered by MediResource
 Search

Go
 Browse alphabetically
ABCDEFGHIJKLMN
OPQRSTUVWXYZ
HEALTH TOPICS
Family & Child Health
Men's Health
Women's Health
Seniors' Health
Addiction
Allergy
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Arthritis (Rheumatoid)
Asthma
Atrial Fibrillation
Baby Health
Back Health
Bedwetting
Bladder (Overactive)
Brain Health
Cancer
Childhood Vaccinations
Cholesterol
Crohn's & Colitis
Cold and Flu
COPD NEW!
Cosmetic Procedures
Depression NEW!
Diabetes
Digestive Health
Ear Health
Eating Disorders
Eye Health
Flu (Seasonal)
Fertility
Fitness
Healthy Skin
Heart
High Blood Pressure
HPV
Hyperhidrosis
Incontinence
Infection
Kidney Health
Low Testosterone NEW!
Lung Health
Medications and your Health
Menopause
Mental Health
Multiple Sclerosis NEW!
Natural and Complementary Therapy
Nutrition
Obesity
Oral Care
Osteoarthritis of the Knee NEW!
Pain
Pregnancy
Psoriasis
Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)
Seasonal Health
Sexual Health
Sleep Health
Stroke Risk Reduction
Smoking
Weight Management
Workplace Health
Yeast Infection
All health channels

STAY CONNECTED
RESOURCES
Ask an Expert
Clinical Trials
Find a Specialist
Health features
News
Tools


Condition Info Drug Info Tests and Procedures Natural Products Ask an Expert Support Groups Clinical Trials
Home Bookmark Page Send to a Friend Sante Chez Nous Subscribe
Sleep Health > Sleep facts > The stages of sleep
Sleep Health
Sleep health overview
Sleep facts
Sleep disorders
Improve your sleep
The stages of sleep
Sleep patterns and aging
Snore lore: 5 facts about snoring
Women and sleep problems
Sleep and depression
Sleep and pain
Dare you not to yawn!
Bruxism: Losing sleep to tooth grinding?
Sleep Health resources
Related channels
Health features
Related conditions
Health tools
Natural products
Related medications
Support groups



The stages of sleep

Sleep is a complex process that is influenced by chemical messengers in certain areas of the brain and on an internal body clock that is referred to as circadian rhythm. Sleep is critical to our health and survival and stretches out across 5 distinctive stages. Stages 1 through 4 are called non-rapid eye movement or NREM stages of sleep and the last stage is called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Stage 1: Stage 1 encompasses those first 5 to 10 minutes of sleep, when your eyes close and you begin your descent into slumber. This is the time in which if someone were to wake you, you might ask, "Was I asleep just then?" You might also experience sudden muscle contractions that cause a jerk or a sensation of falling. Catch even a super-quick nap, and you're still likely to improve your chances of remembering something you just learned or memorized.

Stage 2: Stage 2 finds you 20 to 30 minutes or so into sleep, preparing for deeper sleep. It is during stage 2 that your heart rate slows down, body temperature decreases, and your muscles progressively become more relaxed. It's here that you'll hit the pinnacle of the so-called "power nap." A nap of about 30 minutes can offer you the boost of energy and concentration you need to get through the rest of the afternoon.

Stages 3-4: Should you sleep into the 45-minute range, you float into slow-wave sleep. This deep, enveloping sleep state bolsters your declarative memory, the ability to remember facts and explain them. Sleepwalking and bedwetting most commonly occur in the late part of stage 4 sleep.

Stage 5: Once you doze into the 70- to 90-minute range, you're in the realm of dreams and rapid eye movement (REM). Your heart rate and respiration will pick up again, too. Sleep into this stage and you can help to make up for lost sleep and improve your procedural memory, the ability to remember how to perform tasks.

What's interesting is that we don't go through these stages in order all of the time. For example, once you are in stage 4 sleep for the first time, you'll go back to stage 3 then stage 2 before getting to stage 5. And, after stage 5, you will usually move to stage 2 sleep. During a night's sleep, you will cycle through these stages of sleep several times.

How much sleep to we need?

If you don't get enough sleep, you can feel sleepy during the day and your performance (both mental and physical) will suffer. And this can be dangerous if you are driving a car. So how much sleep is enough? Well, that depends on a number of factors including your age, your health, and on how much sleep you've been getting previously. If you don't get enough sleep, you create a "sleep debt" which is sleep that needs to be made up for so the brain can function optimally. Most adults need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team



Advertisement

Did you find what you were looking for on our website? Please let us know.

Hot Topics - Bedwetting, Depression, Flu (Seasonal), Healthy Skin, Incontinence, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Stroke Risk Reduction

Condition and disease information is written and reviewed by the MedBroadcast Clinical Team.


The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.
© 1996 - 2014 MediResource Inc. - MediResource reaches millions of Canadians each year.