Five Stages of The Sleep Cycle: Everyone Must Dream
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Five Stages of The Sleep Cycle: Everyone Must Dream

There are five distinct stages of sleep which humans pass through each time they go to sleep for the night. However, only one stage of sleep, REM sleep,standing for rapid eye movement, is the stage where dreams occurs. The other four stages are called non rem sleep stages.

There are five distinct stages of sleep which humans pass through each time they go to sleep for the night. However, only one stage of sleep, REM sleep,standing for rapid eye movement, is the stage where dreams occurs. The other four stages are called non rem sleep stages.

The following is a simplistic explanation of the 5 stages of the sleep cycle

Stage 1

Stage 1 sleep normally lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes. You are not meant to stay in this stage for very long because this stage is simply meant as a stage to help your body and muscles relax. It is basically a transition stage to deeper sleep. It is the stage that you are in when you just drift off to sleep or the stage that you are come out of when you are just waking up.

Insomniacs who have trouble drifting off to sleep tend to sleep longer in this stage when they finally do.

Stage 2 sleep

Stage 2 sleep is still a transitional stage of sleep. It is considered light sleep. In this stage your body continues to relax, your mind, breathing, and your heart rate slows down. Your breathing and heart rate become even more regular and your temperature lowers in preparation for total relaxation and the deeper dream stages that will follow.

Stage 3 and Stage 4 sleep

These two stages are very similar. The brain waves in Stage 3 are called delta waves. If you were to measure them you would see that they are very slow waves, but sometimes there are some short fast brain wave bursts called beta waves. The Electroencephalography and the Electrocorticography will be able to measure the electrical charges of the brain during sleep.

A person who is woken from stage 3 dream sleep with feel groggy, disoriented, and confused for a while before their complete brain functioning comes back to them.

Stage 4 sleep

Stage 4 sleep is the deepest sleep of all. This stage of sleep is characterized by slow delta waves. In both Stage 3 and 4 dream sleep the stages normally last from 5 to 15 minutes however, the first real deep sleep in stage 4 can last up to an hour. Stage 4 sleep is the heaviest sleep stage and it is very difficult to wake someone up during this part of the sleep cycle. Stage 4 sleep is also the sleep phase where bed wetting in children occur and where sleep disorders such as night terrors will occur.

More about night terrors will be explained in a later section of this series.

In terms of health, this is the stage that is necessary for the body to repair, revitalize. and rejuvenate.

The older we get the less time we spend in deep sleep.

Stage 5 REM sleep

Stage 5 Sleep, REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) is also called active sleep. It is the stage in the sleep cycle where you will dream. REM sleep or dream sleep is called active sleep because your brain activity is as active as when you are awake. Not only does your brain activity increase in this stage of sleep, your blood flow and breathing return to normal.

Now even though you are revitalized during this period of the sleep cycle your muscles paralyze. Though that might seem counter intuition, it is nature's way of protecting us from any harmful physical activity if we should try to physically act out our dreams.

The first REM sleep occurs about an a hour and a half after we drift off allow for each sleep stage to progress to the next. The first REM sleep is short lasting only about 10 minutes, but as the cycle repeats it can build up to about a hour a REM sleep cycle.

Some people believe that they do not dream, however everyone dreams. Many people do not remember their dreams. This is easily explained if we go back to stage 1 which is not a dream stage but the stage where we first drift off to sleep or the stage where we awake. It is possible to remember the last dreams we had during our sleep cycle if we awake during REM sleep or shortly thereafter.

Babies will be in REM sleep 50 percent of the time. REM sleep decreases with age. An adult usually spends about 25 percent of the dream stages in REM sleep and seniors spend less time than that.

Our ability to get a good nights sleep, impacts upon our daily activity and our over all general and mental health. We will look at the link between learning and dreaming, and depression and dreaming as the series continues.


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Comments (10)

Fascinating. I didn't know the full details of this process.

Very interesting

Very interesting and fasinating work Carol! Excellent write and read. This certainly explained a lot of things I was unaware of such as the percentages in REM as we age. Great stuff!

Great sleep analysis, Carol.

Interesting post. Got this from SU, Carol. From Galaxy885 and re tweeted this xx

OK, wow. You hardly ever think about this on a daily basis, right? Great explanation of the phases. I knew what REM stood for but it is due to the band, lol:D Out of votes so I'll be sending facebook and su love to this one. :)

Ranked #21 in Sleep

Good job. Sending you some page love.

Nice one Carol - right down my alley! - You and I are on the same "brainwave" it seems :-)

I might have to admit I'm growing older, because I am missing my REM/dream sleep - thanks for the info

Ranked #1 in Sleep

thanks N/A my sleep series is really really long many articles are posted here, I hope you will read more,