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An Introduction to the 4 Stages of Sleep

August 6, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — bettersleep @ 2:37 pm
Woman in bed, going through stages of sleep

Each night, your body goes on a journey through four different stages of sleep. Each stage plays a unique and important role in supporting your overall wellness, and disruptions in your sleep cycle may adversely affect your health. What happens during each portion of your sleep cycle, and how can you make sure that you enjoy the full benefits of each of them? Let’s talk about the answers to these questions.

Stages 1 and 2: Light Sleep

Immediately after you fall asleep, you begin the first stage of the sleep cycle. Your eye movements, breathing, and heartbeat all slow down. However, you remain somewhat alert. If someone calls your name or makes some noise, you are likely to respond. You might not even realize that you had been asleep.

After 5 – 10 minutes in stage 1, you should enter stage 2 of the sleep cycle. You become less aware of what is going on around you, your eye movements stop, and your body temperature drops slightly. Your brain starts to produce a particular type of wave called sleep spindles. It’s common for people to spend about half of their total sleep time in stage 2.

Stages 3 and 4: Deep Sleep

Stage 3 of the sleep cycle is sometimes referred to as “deep sleep.” At this point, it is difficult to awaken you. Your body starts to repair tissues that suffered damage during the day, and your brain starts to consolidate new memories. Your cytokine levels also increase. Cytokines are a type of protein that play a role in immune system function. For kids and teenagers, stage 3 is an important part of their overall growth.

Next is stage 4, which is also called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep). Your eyes start to dart in various directions, your heartrate increases, your blood pressure rises, and your breathing becomes shallower. Your brain continues to process new memories, particularly ones that are based in emotion. The majority of dreams happen during REM sleep.

The Importance of Uninterrupted Sleep

It takes 1 – 2 hours for an average person to go through all four stages of sleep, and the amount of time spent in each stage changes throughout the night. To derive the full benefits from the various stages, you should be able to rest without interruption. Sadly, health conditions like sleep apnea in Eugene can cause minor arousals throughout the night and prevent you from spending enough time in stages 3 and 4. As a result, your memory, emotional health, and physical health could all be adversely affected.

If you believe you require sleep apnea treatment in Eugene, you should consult with a qualified medical professional about your options. A custom oral appliance or CPAP machine could be the key to enjoying uninterrupted rest that allows you to benefit fully from each stage of your sleep cycle.

Meet the Doctor

Dr. Ivan Paskalev is a dentist who specializes in helping patients conquer sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. He is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and other prestigious organizations. If you would like to request an appointment with him or learn more about sleep apnea, contact our office at 541-246-8284. 

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