5 Stages of Sleep: How Sleep Cycles Work

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Sleep is familiar to everybody. But most people don’t know the complexity that lies behind rest. It is the rejuvenation of a peaceful mind and body. During sleep, the human body passes through 5 different stages. These five stages are of REM, i.e. rapid eye movement and NREM, i.e. none – rapid eye movement. The body moves through these stages about five to six times. Each step serves a specific function such as restoration, recovery, hormone regulation, memory empowerment, and muscle flexibility. Without proper sleep, the body feels weak and does not receive the basic essential elements.

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The Various Stages Of Sleep

Stage 1 Of Sleep

Stage one is the traditional phase, where one floats in and out of unconsciousness. You may be partially awake in this NREM stage, while your mind drifts away. This drowsiness leads to very light sleep. Often there is a muscle jerk that leads to a sense of falling. This feeling often brings you back to unconsciousness. This rapid sleep experience is known as hypnic myoclonia.

Stage 2

Most of the sleep takes place in stage 2. This is also an NREM phase and a light sleeping stage. The heart rate drops in this stage, and the overall body temperature decreases. Eye movement stops in this stage and the brain waves slowly. Occasionally there is a burst of waves called spindles. The muscles relax, and the body loses its grip.

Stage 3 and Stage 4

The deepest stages of sleep are stages three and four. If someone tries to wake up from this stage, it will take them a minute or two to get in the right frame. There will be a sense of disorientation when one wakes up from a stage three sleep. Same applies for step four.

This period of slow-wave sleep is an NREM phase. The brain functions slowly, and the waves generated are slow.  Waves decrease as the body enters into stage four. During this stage, the blood pressure drops, and there is no eye movement at all. The muscles don’t function anymore. It is often in this stage that people experience nightmares and sleepwalking.

If a person experiences good sleep during this stage, then the body feels energized. Oxygen and nutritional elements get restored during this stage.

Stage 5

Adults spend about 20% while infants spend 50% of sleep in this stage. It is in this stage that the brain functions full-fledged. The body remains immobile, but there is still working. In REM sleep, the eyes move in all directions while the limb is still numb. The heart rate and blood pressure start rising in this stage.

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