Did you know that the average person spends a total of 25 years asleep?
Seems crazy when you think about it, but our bodies need sleep to survive and function.
Every night when we drift off into the land of wink and nod, we enter into a sleep cycle otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.
This sleep cycle takes around 90 minutes to be completed, and for the average person they will enter this cycle at least 4 to 5 times every night.
Here are the 5 stages of the sleep cycle:
Stage 1: Light Sleep
After 10-20 minutes of lying down on your most comfortable mattress, your body enters into light sleep.
This is the first stage of sleep and usually lasts only around 5 to 10 minutes.
While in this phase, you may feel like you are drifting in, and out of sleep. You may also feel your muscles jerking or twitching. Your breathing also starts to slow, and your muscles start to relax. This is all to prepare you for a deeper sleep.
Stage 2: Onset of Sleep
The next phase of sleep is known as the “onset” phase. In this phase, you will lose awareness of your surroundings, and your brain activity will start to slow down.
This phase of the sleep cycle generally lasts around 20 minutes before you move into the first stage of deep sleep.
Stage 3: First Stage Deep Sleep
During this part of the cycle you move from a light sleep to a deep sleep. This is commonly referred to as slow wave sleep, as your brain waves begin to slow and mental activity becomes significantly decreased.
During this stage of sleep, it is very difficult to wake someone. If you are woken during this stage, you may also feel very groggy or even dazed.
Stage 4: Second Stage Deep Sleep
In second stage deep sleep, your blood pressure will drop, and tissue repair and growth will begin.
It is in the second stage of deep sleep that your energy levels are also restored and recharged for the day ahead.
For those who sleep walk or wet the bed, it will most likely occur during this stage of sleep.
From deep sleep your body then enters into REM sleep or rapid eye movement sleep.
Stage 5: REM Sleep
During this phase, your eyes dart back and forth and your brain becomes very active. This stage is known as “active sleep” and is where you have most of your dreams.
In fact, the average person will have around 4 to 5 dreams per night.
In REM sleep your blood flow, breathing and brain activity also increase to almost the same level as your waking state.
During this phase however, your leg and arm muscles enter into a state of paralysis. This is to stop you from acting out your dreams.
REM sleep generally lasts around 10-20 minutes, but throughout the night it is believed that REM sleep becomes longer. Researchers have found that on the fourth or even fifth sleep cycle, REM sleep can last as long as an hour.
You are most likely to remember your dreams if you are woken during REM sleep.
After REM sleep has passed, you will move back into stage one or light sleep only to repeat the cycle again.
Sleep is a pretty amazing thing and scientists and researchers are still studying and learning about the importance of each stage of sleep. After all, the average person does spend 25 years of their life asleep.