The Five Stages of Sleep

The body usually enjoys or goes through five stages of sleep each night, revolving in four or five cycles of 90 to 100 minutes each.

Stages one and two of the sleep cycle are considered light-sleeping phases when one can be easily awakened. During these phases eye movements slow down and eventually stop, and breathing and heart rates slow down as well. One’s body temperature also decreases.

Stages three and four are considered deep-sleeping phases. These are the most refreshing of the sleep phases, and it’s hard to awaken someone from this phase, and when awakened, he or she will feel groggy and disoriented. These stages are what we crave most when we feel weak and tired.

The last stage is called REM for “rapid eye movement,” which characterizes this phase, as well as does the vivid dreaming that takes place.  During REM sleep, other physical changes take place — breathing becomes rapid, the heart beats faster, and the limb muscles don’t move.

When your next day is fatigue-plagued, you probably haven’t experienced the full cycles of sleep for one or many reasons. Stress, substance abuse, medications, allergies and physical conditions can all contribute to sleep deprivation, as can personal choices such as trying to burn the candles of life at both ends or ignoring good sleep hygiene.

Whatever the cause, if your daytimes are suffering because of your nighttime sleep problems, then you need to seek professional help just as you would with a physical problem or medical condition. Don’t wait but seek help today.

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