When you lay your head to rest at night, you take a journey through four different stages of sleep. You are unaware of what goes on during your sleep, but the brain and body communicate with each other in their active states. Each stage has a particular function, and it is beneficial to wake up during a particular stage.
Sleep is sleep to some people, but scientists in the 1950s used an electroencephalograph to discover REM sleep. Sleep studies monitored brain waves and found that the human body progresses through various stages during sleep. An ideal night of sleep involves 90-minute cycles of the various stages. The amount each person gets will vary from night to night, and person to person.
The 4 Stages Of Sleep
The body begins to drift off and you can occasionally feel like you are falling and then jerking back awake. This reaction is known as hypnic myoclonia, and it is completely natural. People who consume a lot of caffeine or those who have high stress levels experience this reaction more frequently. The body winds down during this stage before you enter light sleep.
The second stage of sleep is the light sleep stage. People spend 50% of their sleeping hours in this stage. The brain starts to produce rapid, rhythmic brain wave activity (known as sleep spindles), body temperature decreases, and your heart rate slows.
Stage 3 was combined with stage 4, but now it gets its own stage. This is the restorative stage for your body because the body enters deep sleep, which promotes cell repair, along with tissue and muscle growth. Known as delta sleep, stage 3 involves less responsiveness to noises and environmental activity.
The last stage of sleep is REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. Most dreaming occurs during this stage, and brain scans show increased brain activity, respiration rate, and eye movement. According to the American Sleep Foundation, people spend about 20% of their total sleep in this stage. This stage causes the brain and body to be more active, while muscles become more relaxed.
You Should Wake Up During
During a healthy night of sleep, the body will cycle through each of the four stages four to five times. By the final cycle, the body may skip NREM deep sleep entirely, but the body spends more time in NREM sleep in general. You should also understand that the stages don’t occur in order. You can easily jump from stage one to stage two, and then from stage four to stage one to stage three. But how do you know which one you’re in, let alone which one you should wake up during?
According to sleep researchers, it is ideal to wake up after a full sleep cycle, but it can be hard to train your body to do this. “Waking up naturally” is the term for waking up after a completed sleep cycle at the end of a full night’s sleep. Some people wake up at the same time every day, regardless of alarms, and these people are able to wake up naturally. Before you call attention to the time at which you wake, you need to focus on getting a sufficient amount of sleep for your brain and body.
Once you are able to sleep for seven to nine hours with minimal or no interruptions, stick with this schedule by establishing the same sleep and wake times every day. It is tempting to sleep extra late on the weekends, but it is more beneficial to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The combination of regular exercise and a balanced diet that is low in caffeine and alcohol is a recipe for optimal sleep hygiene.
The only way to wake up after a full cycle of all the sleep stages is to make time for deep restorative sleep every night. Your body will naturally wake you up after a full sleep cycle once you get sufficient sleep every night.