What Happens While You’re Recharging: Learn All About the 5 Stages of Sleep and How They Work

We all know that the benefits of sleep are incredible. Without enough sleep, our brains can’t recharge and there are numerous detrimental effects on our bodies. In fact, just one sleepless night creates similar symptoms to a mild concussion!

While you sleep, your brain goes through five stages of sleep. They start with stage 1 and go through the REM cycle, then repeat again. Each stage is different, and each one is important by itself.

A full sleep cycle takes anywhere between 90 and 100 minutes. Each stage lasts from 5 to 15 minutes, rotating between periods of light and deep sleep.

Understanding your sleep cycles is important so that you can begin to train your body to create a sleep pattern where you wake up in a light sleep, learn your best napping times if you want to rest during the day, and ensure you are getting the right amount of sleep for your body.

What Happens in the 5 Stages of Sleep 

  1. Stage 1 – You have probably found yourself in stage 1 sleep many times without even realizing you’d gotten there. In this stage, you are drifting in and out of a light sleep and are easily awakened, even by yourself. This is the stage where your eyes begin to slightly move and activity begins slowing down. It is common to jerk awake in this light sleep because you may get a feeling like you are falling and your muscles contract.
  1. Stage 2 – In this stage, your eye movement stops as your body prepares for deep sleep. Brain waves begin to slow down and there is only an intermittent peak of rapid brain waves. Your body temperature drops gradually and your heart rate slows down. Your body is ready for deep sleep.
  1. Stage 3 – You are now in deep sleep, in which your brain waves are very slow. These slow waves are called delta waves, and there are random periods of faster waves intermittently showing. This is the stage where people who exhibit parasomnias like sleepwalking or talking and night terrors demonstrate those behaviors as they transition between REM and non-REM sleep.
  1. Stage 4 – This is a new stage of deep sleep in which your brain is almost solely producing those extremely slow delta waves. Because of this, if you are awoken during this time you usually feel groggy, confused, and disoriented for a short time, but this is an important stage for your brain’s recharging. To avoid waking up in stage 4 sleep, read some sleep tracker reviews and invest in a good sleep tracker to guide your alarm schedule.
  1. Stage 5 – This is your REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep in which your brain acts like it would when you are awake. Your eyes are closed but are rapidly moving and you are likely experiencing vivid dreams.

Know Your Sleep Cycle 

Everyone has a different sleep pattern, but each person goes through these 5 stages of sleep. Knowing your sleep pattern can help you start the day refreshed and recharged and avoid hitting the snooze button multiple times!