What Are The 5 Stages of The Sleep Cycle?

Sleep is not a luxury, it's a necessity. Lack of sleep will affect your health, productivity, and social life. Everyone deserves to know how much and when they should be sleeping.

Sleep is a rejuvenating activity that reduces stress and improves mood. It also helps children grow strong bones, aids in learning new skills, prevents weight gain or obesity, increases energy levels throughout the day, and increases cognitive ability. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

But there are situations when too much sleep can be a problem: you may be so tired that you oversleep or sleep too long in the morning. In this article, we will see in detail the 5 stages or cycles of sleep.

5 Stages Of Sleep Cycle

Stage 1: Wake/Alert

In this stage, there is the highest frequency of beta waves. These are faster waves found normally in active thinking. The body prepares itself to sleep.

This stage heavily depends on whether the eye is open or not. If the eyes are open, there is no way to move from this stage. But if the eyes are closed, slow-wave activity starts to develop. Brain waves are similar to that of the awake state but not exactly. They are called "relaxed wakefulness" and cannot be used as a signal for sleep onset.

During this period, you may experience micro-sleeps, also called 'nodding off'. Light sleep is characterized by hypnagogic imagery: a sort of hallucination when images appear in your mind's eye before you fall asleep.

Stage 2: Light Sleep

The first stage of sleep is light sleep. There are many physiologic, psychological, and behavioral changes during this stage of sleep. During a brief period, the brain waves slow down or change from an alert to a pattern known as theta brain waves, which are characterized by a decrease in arousal.

In this stage, breathing occurs at a regular pace, and heart rate decreases. The body moves into a state of partial paralysis, which is why we can't move our arms and legs even if we are fully conscious.

Even though the muscles become paralyzed, the brain still receives some sensory information and the body temperature falls. The brain waves slow down in frequency and amplitude, but they do not stop entirely.

You will find muscle tone present in the skeletal muscle, without the feeling of fatigue or decrease in force continuity. Although we are unconscious, our subconscious is well connected to a very important area in the brain - the limbic system.  

Stage 3: Deeper Sleep

Following stage 1 which is light sleep, we will find the second stage to be a deep sleep. During this period, the body temperature, pulse rate, and breathing all decrease. But there are still changes occurring on the physical, emotional, and mental levels.

During this stage, the body is in deep relaxation. Only our breathing is affected by this stage, becoming more and more irregular according to the level of relaxation.

There will be an occurrence of sleep spindles which are a rapid burst of high-frequency brain waves. Even though the brain waves are low, a person's consciousness is still functioning. This is why you will wake up during this stage. The person does not recognize that he or she was asleep for quite a long time.

Stage 4: Slow Wave Sleep

This stage of sleep is characterized by low frequency. It is also known as slow-wave sleep or delta sleep. The brain waves are in the range of 0-4 Hertz (cycles per second). The human eye movement stops at this point, but there are still some eye blinks occurring.

Breathing occurs in a regular rhythm, with an irregular pattern to it. The muscles of the body begin to relax due to the decrease in muscle tone and resistance present. This is why you will find yourself lying flat on your back while you're asleep during this stage.

The heart and respiration rate slows exponentially. The body temperature, pulse rate, and breathing become slower. Here you could see the highest arousal thresholds and the lowest overall arousal level.

Stage 5: Dreaming/REM Sleep

During this stage, you will find rapid eye movements (REM) which are characterized by faster and more irregular eye movements. The respiratory and heart rate increase in speed, pulse pressure decreases, and muscle tone increases.

There is no activity in the brain, so we begin to dream during this stage. Some people will experience dreams as a mixture of images, sounds, emotions, and even smells. There will be no movement with the skeletal muscles, but there will be muscle twitches present.

This stage of sleep is the longest and deepest of all, with more than 90% of all the brain activity occurring in this stage. The breathing rate will be irregular and rapid and your heart rate will be increasing exponentially.

How to improve the sleep with the bedding sheet set?

The first thing that you will notice about the sleepwear is the fabric. The sheets available in the market are mostly made from cotton, which can cause hypo-allergenic problems, especially for people with skin sensitivities or allergies.

Various fabrics are used to make bedding like 100% Egyptian Cotton, Polyester, and Linen which is ideal for all types of sleeping conditions and temperature changes.

There are various types of pillowcases that you can use. The pillowcases come up in a variety of styles like square-shaped pillowcases that offer ease of use with a flat surface or round-shaped ones which have more features and give more support to your neck.

The pillowcases come up with a variety of designs that go with sleepwear. Different styles are available for different needs. Some designs are more comfortable than others, so you need to assess your needs before getting one for yourself.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to bedding sheets. The softness will depend on the type of material used in manufacturing them, like cotton flannel sheets that feel very warm and cozy or cotton sateen sheets that feel smooth and soft.

The pillowcases will also help you improve the quality of your sleep. As per your sleep posture and what position you prefer, you need to select the pillowcases that will make optimal use of the sleepwear's features like softness and comfort. There is a variety of categories for your consideration.

You can select the pattern, design, and color based on what suits you best. If you want a style that will match the color of your wardrobe, you need to choose from the options available from various manufacturers.

What are the best tips for better nights of sleep?

It is important to note that you cannot improve your sleep if you do not have a good night before sleeping. This means that even if you consider yourself to be quite the picky sleeper, you will still need to take care of your body and mind before having a full and restful sleep.

Remember, some things will stress and irritate your body even after being asleep. But other things are very helpful in aiding better nights of sleep. There are certain ways in which you can ensure a smooth transition from awake to asleep as well as ensure that you get the best of rest.

Here are some tips on how to achieve better sleep:

  1. Choose an optimum temperature

The temperature of your bedroom matters a lot. A good night's sleep is always going to be the best when your body is in a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. A cool room temperature on a warm night will make you uncomfortable. On the other hand, you would find it easier to fall asleep at a warm room temperature during cold nights.

  1. Choose comfortable bedding

Comfortable bedding sets are important as they will help you get the best possible nights of sleep. Cotton is known for its softness which can help you get great nights of sleep even when your sleeping position isn't quite comfortable because of pains and aches in certain body parts.

  1. Find a cozy comforter 

You need to find a bedding set that yields you the right amount of comfort and luxury. You will not get any luxurious nights if you are spending your time in uncomfortable bedding sets. Investing in comfortable beddings is important because they are very useful in ensuring better nights of sleep.

  1. Make up your mind about the kind of pillowcases you want

Pillowcases come up with a variety of designs and types that you can pick from. You need to find the one which will cater to your needs and preferences best, whether it is for warmth, softness, or warmth and softness balance. You can also choose from the different designs or patterns depending on what suits your needs better.  

  1. Choose good sheet fabrics

You need to look for the material used in manufacturing the sheets or pillowcases that you want to buy. You need to choose one that is very soft and can maintain your body heat and temperature. Cotton is known to achieve all these because of its softness, texture, and comfort.  

  1. Get the right sleepwear

If you're looking forward to having a great night's sleep, this doesn't just mean that you should have a comfortable bedding set. It also means having things like good-quality bedding sleepwear like pillowcases, duvet covers, blanket sets, etc., as well as excellent mattresses and pillows.

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