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How Much Do You Know About Sleep?

— by Sealy on Dec 19, 2022

Contrary to what was once popular belief, all sleep is not uniform. During the average night, sleep patterns consist of several sleep cycles composed of four individual sleep stages. Let's discuss the sleep stages and understand how we can better achieve a good night's sleep at each step in the cycle.

overhead view of a woman smiling laying on a Sealy mattress

Stage 1

Stage one, also known as N1, is the initial “falling asleep” stage and typically lasts anywhere from 1-5 minutes. During this stage, your body begins to relax, brain activity slows, and you start having short periods of brief movements. It’s easy to wake up during this stage, but if left undisturbed, an individual will quickly move into stage two of the sleep cycle. Generally, if you sleep through the night, there won’t be any more time spent in this stage.*

Stage 2

The second stage consists of a more subdued bodily state, including relaxed muscles, reduced temperature, and slowed breathing and heart rate. Brain waves consist of different patterns during this stage, and eye movement comes to a standstill. Although brain activity is low in this stage, there are short bursts of activity. This stage can last 10-25 minutes during the first sleep cycle and increase throughout the night. People can spend about half of their sleep time in stage two, also known as N2.*

Stage 3

Stage three (N3) is also considered deep sleep. It becomes more challenging to wake an individual in this stage—muscle tone, breathing rate, and pulse all decrease in N3 sleep. Brain activity during this period is identifiable and known as delta waves (delta sleep or Slow-wave sleep). Sleep experts believe this stage is crucial for bodily restoration. It bolsters the immune system and allows the body to recover and grow. Although brain activity is low, many researchers believe deep sleep directly contributes to creativity, insightful thinking, and memory. We spend the most time in deep sleep during the first half of the night. During early cycles, this stage can last 20-40 minutes. These stages decrease in length, and we spend more time in REM.*

Stage 4

We achieve REM sleep during stage 4. During REM sleep, brain activity spikes, almost bordering the same level as someone awake. However, your body also experiences muscle atonia (temporary sleep paralysis), except for your eyes (Rapid Eye Movement) and the muscles controlling your breathing. REM sleep is essential to cognitive functions like creativity, learning, memory, and recall. Vivid dreams also characterize this stage. Generally, you only hit REM sleep once you’ve been sleeping for at least 90 minutes. However, it is possible for the time spent in this stage to increase throughout the night. This stage accounts for around 25% of sleep in adults.

Why is sleep essential?

Sleep is crucial for your brain to flush, repair, and heal itself. Failure to obtain enough sleep correlates with profound adverse effects on thinking, physical, and emotional health. The National Sleep Foundation reports the following recommended sleep times per age group:

  • Adults, 65+ years: 7-8 hours.
  • Adults, 26 to 64 years: 7-9 hours.
  • Young adults, 18 to 25 years: 7-9 hours.
  • Teenagers, 14 to 17 years: 8-10 hours.
  • School-age children, 6 to 13 years: 9-11 hours.
  • Preschool children, 3 to 5 years: 10-13 hours.
  • Toddlers, 1 to 2 years: 11-14 hours.
  • Infants, 4 to 11 months: 12-15 hours.
  • Newborns, 0 to 3 months: 14-17 hours. ^

How to Improve your sleep:

There are many ways to improve your sleep! First and foremost, investing in the best mattress, blankets, sheets, and pillows goes a long way. Ensuring your mattress is comfortable and supportive will allow you to reduce the time spent tossing and turning and more time achieving your sleep cycle goals. In addition to your bed, you can also improve your sleep by:

  • Setting a regular bedtime routine: ensuring you’re going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day will set your circadian rhythm, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep more easily.
  • Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed.
  • Limit caffeine intake after 2 pm
  • Curate the perfect sleep zone: keep your room dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature.

Utilizing these recommendations can significantly increase your satisfaction with your sleep. Everyone deserves their best night's sleep, and we're here to provide you with the knowledge, tips, and products to make your dreams come true!

* Sleep Foundation

^ National Sleep Foundation

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