In our busy lives, most of us don’t make enough time to sleep. We work, run kids to activities, try to squeeze in some exercise, meet up with friends, and sometimes allow ourselves to enjoy much-needed downtime in front of the TV or while reading a book. But sleep is often a last priority, so we close our eyes later than we should and open them much too early. It’s important to understand that we have to sleep long enough each night in order for sleep to do its job, but what exactly should our bodies be doing?
Outlining the Five Stages of Sleep
The amount of hours needed varies according to age; teenagers require around 9 hours while adults should get 7 or 8. Determining how much sleep is enough can be tough, you should sleep long enough to complete a complete sleep cycle 4 or 5 times throughout the night. A full sleep cycle takes around 90-110 minutes, and is broken into 5 stages of sleep:
Stage 1: Light Sleep
You know that feeling when you close your eyes and start to dream, but you’re still aware that you’re in the bedroom? This is a light sleep that you drift in and out of for 5 to 10 minutes until you enter stage 2. You might start to fall in your dream and jerk awake because your muscles haven’t recognized that it’s time for them to shut down.
Stage 2: A Relaxed State
Still, in the early stages of sleep, your brain waves, heart rate, and breathing begin to slow. Your body temperature starts to drop, and your body becomes more relaxed. You stay here for 15-20 minutes.
Stage 3: Entering Deep Sleep
Now that you’re relaxed, you’re ready to enter a deeper sleep. Here, slow, steady brain waves called delta waves start to appear along with short bursts of faster brain activity called beta-waves. You stay here for about 10 minutes.
Stage 4: Deep, Restorative Sleep
In this stage of the sleep cycle, it’s almost impossible to wake you up. Your brain waves are extremely slow now. Your body starts to repair and regenerate tissue, restore energy, and release essential growth hormones. You stay in this deep sleep for about 40 minutes.
Stage 5: REM Sleep
Stage 5 occurs when your brain is very active and you dream. Your blood starts to flow, you breathe faster, and your eyes move back and forth, but your muscles are almost paralyzed. This stage of sleep is important for mental health because it stimulates areas of your brain essential in learning and retaining memories. If you get enough REM sleep, you’ll also be in a better mood the next day because it replenishes serotonin and dopamine which make you happier. When you enter REM sleep during your first sleep cycle of the night, it will last around 10 minutes, but as the night progresses each REM cycle will get longer.
Why Is It Important to Get Enough Sleep?
Each stage of the sleep cycle has an important purpose, but it’s imperative to get enough deep sleep and REM sleep to restore your body and mind so you can function well the next day. Going through the entire sleep cycle 4 or 5 times is the best way to ensure you can move well and think clearly.
How Can I Make Sure I Stay Asleep Longer?
During the day you should get plenty of exercise and eat healthy foods, and you should avoid caffeine or anything that could cause heartburn within a few hours before bedtime. Keep your bedroom dim and lose the electronics, which can keep you awake. Finally, choose a mattress that’s best for your preferred sleep position and doesn’t create pressure points or make you too hot.
Beloit Mattresses and Adjustable Bases Can Help You Sleep Longer
If you’re waking up in pain or just can’t get comfortable, it may be time for a new mattress. Beloit’s hand-crafted mattresses are built for comfort, and our adjustable bases can put you in a position to enjoy the best sleep of your life. Shop online or visit us today to see how we can help you sleep longer.
To help you during your mattress buying journey, we also encourage you to consult our free Mattress Buying Guide complete with the knowledge and experience from our very own mattress experts.