Stages of Sleep

Sleeping is a lot more than just lying on the bed and drifting out of consciousness. Fairly recently, people have discovered that sleeping can be broken into stages and that there are various types of sleeping patterns that people can go through and experience. Doctors and scientist have done countless studies on peoples habits on sleeping to identify disorders or problems and can even help people get a good nights sleep on a daily basis. There are two types of broad sleeping patterns; Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and they cycle between each other.

Rapid Eye Movement

Characterize by the random and rapid movement of the eyes, this type of sleep occurs towards the morning and can be sporadic during the sleep process. They last 90-120 minuetes in total. Studies conducted on volunteers have noted that REM sleep helps the creative process and may explain why dreams are more vivid and fantastical in this sense. People that take anti-depressants effect the REM sleep because they inhibit REM, therefore causing even worse depression in some cases. REM sleep is important as it stimulates the Central Nervous System.

Non-Rapid Eye Movement

Unlike REM, the NREM sleep has no movement of the eyes and rarely include dreams. This type of sleep, however, does not paralyze the muscles and should a sleeper not go through the proper stages of the sleeping cycle (skipping through REM sleep), they could end up sleepwalking or talking in their sleep. This can be a pretty alarming and even disturbing occurrence to others.

Stages of NREM

  • Stage 1 – Occurring at the beginning of the sleep cycle, this type of sleep involves slow eye movement. People that are in this stage will drift in and out of consciousness. Some people with an irregular sleep cycle may experience Hypnic Jerk which is a sudden movement or “jump” that is usually accompanied by falling sensation.
  • Stage 2 – No eye movement and the sleeper is easily awakened.
  • Stage 3 – Deep Sleep occurs and the person can feel groggy if awakened from this stage. It’s more difficult to wake up from this type of sleep.

Sleep stages are important as they help determine what type of rest to get and what every single stage and types of sleep is valuable. Deprivation of certain types of sleep can lead to an array of problems, ranging from moodiness to depression. Consider this the next time you think that sleeping less than the recommended amount its okay.