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How to Get the Most Out of Each Stage of Sleep

by BetterSleep
Apr 6 • 3 min read

It may surprise you to find out that when you’re asleep, your mind is still busy going through several stages. Sleep is a cycle that repeats itself several times throughout the night. Each stage has a purpose, and you’ll only feel fully rested after you’ve cycled through them all in the correct balance.

What Are the Stages of Sleep?

The first stage of sleep is being awake and aware. As you drift off to sleep, assuming all goes to plan, you will go through these stages a few times throughout the night:

1. Light Sleep.

Officially categorized as two stages, light sleep occurs when you first fall asleep and lasts until you shift into a deeper stage. During light sleep, your heart rate and respiration slow down. Your muscles relax, and your brain waves settle into alpha and theta shapes. Your body temperature drops, and brain waves begin to go up and down in what are called spindle shapes.

2. Deep Sleep.

After about 30 minutes, you should fall into a deep sleep, the deepest stage you’ll experience all night. During deep sleep, it is difficult to be woken up. Your heart rate and breathing slow significantly, and your body is totally relaxed. Your brain waves are in a delta shape. This is the time your body uses for tissue repair and cell growth. The immune system also strengthens during deep sleep.

3. REM Sleep.

About 90 minutes after falling asleep, you’ll enter the REM stages. REM stands for rapid eye movement. In this stage, your eyes move around a lot, and your breathing and heart rate increase. Your muscles twitch, and brain activity goes up. This is when you experience the most dreams. The first REM stage of the night lasts only about ten minutes but gets longer with subsequent cycles. REM sleep is thought to be important for memory and learning.

You should cycle through a complete set of sleep stages a few times per night for the most restful sleep and to get all the benefits of each stage.

How to Improve Sleep

Sleep provides the most benefits when you have time to go through several complete, uninterrupted cycles. This means getting seven to eight hours of sleep, ideally without waking up in the night.

All of the stages are important for rest, but you may struggle to get enough deep sleep or REM sleep if you are often disrupted. You can improve your nightly sleep cycle by getting enough exercise during the day, going to bed and waking up at the same time, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and any nicotine or alcohol before bed, and by creating a relaxing pre-bed routine.

Bedtime meditations on BetterSleep can help you with the last tip for better, deeper sleep. Try these to relax before bed and induce deeper sleep:

7 Nights to Transform Your Bedtime for Better Sleep

  • Deep Body Relaxation
  • Stairways to Sleep Hypnosis
  • 61-Point Deep Flow Relaxation
  • Doorway to Dreams Hypnosis
  • 5 Nights into Deep Sleep
  • Sleep Therapy for Deep Calm

Meditation could be the key to getting a better night’s sleep. Give these a try for a week or so and see if it makes a difference. You should find yourself falling asleep faster, waking less, and feel more refreshed.

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Combine the different features and mix them together to create your own perfect sleep sanctuary!

Download BetterSleep now and join a community of millions of people we help guide to sleep every night.

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