The Stages of Sleep: Although sleep may seem like a steady state, it actually consists of several stages that

cycle throughout the night. The types of brain waves present at the time (based on amplitudes and frequencies) determine the stage of sleep. Only a brief introduction to the stages of sleep will be presented here because a thorough examination of them is beyond the scope of this site. Most importantly, lucid dreams occur in the 5th stage of sleep, known as the REM (Rapid Eye Moment) stage (note: REM is read as a word, not as each individual letter). As the name alludes to, the most profound discernible characteristic of REM sleep is the bursts of rapid eye movement while dreaming. Although dreaming occurs during the other stages of sleep, the most vivid dreaming occurs during the REM stage. One complete sleep cycle lasts about 90 to 100 minutes; therefore during an average sleep period a person will Brain Waves Sleep Stage Frequency Type

experience 4 to 5 complete sleep cycles. The sleep cycle begins with four stages of SWS (Slow-Wave Sleep), also called NREM (Non-REM). Note that after the completion of the 4th stage, the 5th stage does not immediately begin; instead, the first 4 stages quickly reverse and are then immediately followed by a REM period. The first REM period will occur roughly 90 minutes after falling asleep; thus the first REM period will last only about 10 minutes, given the length of each sleep cycle being roughly 100 minutes. The length of the stages is not static, however: as the night proceeds, the length of stages 3 and 4 (also called delta or deep sleep) begins to wane, and the length of REM sleep increases, up to about one hour in length after a number of cycles. Therefore, as the night goes on, you dream for longer periods of time. The following table offers a summary of the stages of sleep:

Common Characteristics

1 (SWS or NREM)

4 to 8

alpha, theta

y y y y y y y y y y y y y y

transition state between sleep and wakefulness eyes begin to roll slightly consists mostly of theta waves (high amplitude, low frequency (slow)) brief periods of alpha waves, similar to those present while awake lasts only for a few minutes before moving on to next stage peaks of brain waves become higher and higher (sleep spindles) k-complexes (peaks suddenly drastically descend and then pick back up) follow spindles again, only lasts for a few minutes also called delta sleep or deep sleep very slow brain waves, called delta waves (lower frequency than theta waves) 20 to 50% of brain waves are delta waves; the rest are theta waves again, also called delta sleep or deep sleep more than 50% of brain waves are delta waves; the rest are theta waves last (and deepest) of the sleep stages before REM sleep; stages reverse and then REM sleep begins beta waves have a high frequency and occur when the brain is quite active, both in REM sleep and while awake frequent bursts of rapid eye movement, along with occasional muscular twitches heart may beat faster and breathing may become shallow and rapid most vivid dreaming occurs during this stage

2 (SWS or NREM)

8 to 15

theta, spindles, kcomplexes

3 (SWS or NREM)

2 to 4

delta, theta

4 (SWS or NREM)

0.5 to 2

delta, theta

5 (REM) > 12 beta

y y y Stages Since the early 20th century, human sleep has been described as a succession of five recurring stages: four non-REM stages and the REM stage. A sixth stage, waking, is often included. Waking, in this context, is actually the phase during which a person falls asleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is marked by extensive physiological changes, such as accelerated respiration, increased brain activity, eye movement, and muscle relaxation. People dream during REM sleep, perhaps as a result of excited brain activity and the paralysis of major voluntary muscles. Sleep quality changes with transition from one sleep stage into another. Although the signals for transition between the five (or six) stages of sleep are mysterious, it is important to remember that these stages are, in fact, discretely independent of one another, each marked by subtle changes in bodily function and each part of a predictable cycle whose intervals are observable. Sleep stages are monitored and examined clinically with polysomnography, which provides data regarding electrical and muscular states during sleep. Waking The waking stage is referred to as relaxed wakefulness, because this is the stage in which the body prepares for sleep. All people fall asleep with tense muscles, their eyes moving erratically. Then, normally, as a person becomes sleepier, the body begins to slow down. Muscles begin to relax, and eye movement slows to a roll.

retaining memories and relieving stress. the body prepares to enter deep sleep. the sleepier you will feel. indicating a pattern of deep sleep and rhythmic continuity. At this point. Substances like alcohol and nicotine also disrupt deep sleep. restoring physical energy. Stages 3 & 4 (Deep Sleep) . The more adenosine builds up in the brain. Your eyes actually move back and forth during this stage. Stage 1 can be considered a transition y . Try sleeping an extra half hour to hour and see if your mood improves. sleeping during the day may be difficult. REM sleep REM sleep.. and you are easily awakened. This stage is associated with processing emotions. There are different theories as to why you dream. If you are being awakened as a caregiver. heart rate slows. muscle activity slows down. or drowsiness. It is also thought to be vital to learning. These stages are known as slow-wave. What might disrupt deep sleep? If you are caring for someone around the clock. and body temperature decreases. Loud noise outside or inside the home might wake you. is essential to our minds for processing and consolidating emotions. This clock is sensitive to light and time of day. stimulating the brain regions used in learning and developing new skills. Polysomnography shows a 50% reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep. is often described as first in the sequence. moving back and forth between deep restorative sleep and more alert stages and dreaming. the REM sleep stage is longer. or positive and negative waves. especially in models where waking is not included. contributed to this article. The eyes are closed during Stage 1 sleep. 2. Last modified: June 08. Understanding sleep stages and the sleep cycle can help you get better sleep.Stage 1 lasts just five or ten minutes. especially during Stage 4. 4.Eye movements stop. Maximize your deep sleep. Non-REM (NREM) sleep consists of four stages of deeper and deeper sleep. REM sleep (Dream Sleep) ² At about 70 to 90 minutes into your sleep cycle. y Sleep stages and brain activity Why we sleep (Scientific American) provides a detailed description of brain activity during the stages of sleep and wakefulness. or dream sleep. If you work the night shift. due to light and excess noise during the day. a chemical messenger called adenosine builds up during the day as our bodies are busy using energy. and the strongest effects of sleep deprivation are from inadequate deep sleep. REM. Stages 2 and 3 repeat backwards before REM sleep is attained. however. When you fall asleep. A typical night of sleep follows this pattern: y y Stage 2 (Light Sleep) . especially if you have had some unusually disruptive nights. a normal sleep cycle has this pattern: waking. irregular and shallow. deep sleep is perhaps the most vital stage. The heart rate slows. However. Stage 1 may last for five to 10 minutes. There are two main types of sleep. Don·t be afraid to ask for help. or delta. and females may have clitoral enlargement. Suzanne Barston. Ph. Freud thought that dreams were the processing of unconscious desires. *Joanna Saisan MSW. Much of dreaming is still a mystery. M. Stage 2 Stage 2 is a period of light sleep during which polysomnographic readings show intermittent peaks and valleys. Your sleep is regulated by an internal body clock. Deep sleep allows the brain to go on a little vacation needed to restore the energy we expend during our waking hours. make sure that you get some time of uninterrupted sleep. Usually. You usually have three to five REM episodes per night. Stage 1 (Drowsiness) . REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after sleep onset. 3. As your sleep cycles through the night. the electromyogram records slow waves of high amplitude. sensitive to light. and body temperature decreases. which is why it is called REM sleep. If your body is deprived of deep sleep. Stages 3 and 4 These are deep sleep stages. it starts with longer periods of deep sleep. a person may feel as if he or she has not slept. So. Tina de Benedictis. and is a relatively light stage of sleep. Make sure your sleep environment is as comfortable as possible and minimize outside noise. you might need to attend to them suddenly in the middle of the night. If REM sleep is disrupted one night..Stage 1 Stage 1 sleep. Getting more REM sleep Studies have shown that better REM sleep helps boost your mood during the day. researchers wonder if it may be the brain·s way of processing random fragments of information received during the day.shtml Sleep stages: the sleep cycle How we fall asleep How do our bodies know when it is time to sleep? We all have an internal circadian clock that provides cues for when it is time to sleep and time to wake. Eyes move slowly under the eyelids. whether it is a small infant or an elderly relative with a serious illness. 2. How can you get more REM sleep? One simple way is to try to sleep a little more in the morning. the heart rate increases. blood pressure rises.You·re difficult to awaken. Each sleep stage is important for overall quality sleep.D. but if aroused from it. which is why having a good bedtime routine and a quiet dark place to sleep is so important. Today. Adenosine combined with the circadian clock sends a powerful message of sleepiness to your body. Importance of deep sleep and REM sleep Deep Sleep Each stage of sleep offers benefits to the sleeper.sleepdisorderchannel. males may have penile erections. with Stage 4 being more intense than Stage 3. During slow-wave sleep. each stage lasting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. Breathing is rapid. Improving your overall sleep will also increase your REM sleep. Blood flow decreases to the brain in this you spend more time in dream sleep and lighter sleep. Muscle tone of this kind can be seen in other stages of sleep as a reaction to auditory stimuli. you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes. Non-REM Sleep The period of non-REM sleep (NREM)is comprised of Stages 1-4 and lasts from 90 to 120 minutes. Most of dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Stage 1 Stage 1 is the beginning of the sleep cycle. although it can happen during other sleep stages as well. you enter REM sleep. It is the first stage that the brain attempts to recover when sleep deprived. At the same time. memories and stress. and redirects itself towards the muscles. time of day and other cues for sleep and awakening. your body will go through more REM the next to catch up on this sleep stage.A. Includes excellent diagrams. Research also shows that immune functions increase during deep the expense of REM sleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you do most active dreaming. but deep sleep and REM sleep are especially vital. stage 1. your sleep goes in cycles throughout the night. and if you are awakened. and Robert Segal. These waves indicate spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. As the night progresses. sleep. Surprisingly. it will try to make that up first. 3. http://www. By the morning.

The first cycle of REM sleep might last only a short amount of time. Dreams generally occur in the REM stage of sleep. increased brain activity. What Is REM Sleep? Usually. the brain produces high amplitude theta waves. Stage 2 Stage 2 is the second stage of sleep and lasts for approximately 20 minutes. Impaired memory and thought processes. with each recurring REM stage lengthening. The eyes are closed during Stage 1 sleep. the body repairs and regenerates tissues. What Are the Consequences of Too Little Sleep? Too little sleep may cause: y y Stage 1: Polysomnography (sleep readings) shows a reduction in activity between wakefulness and stage 1 sleep. but voluntary muscles become paralyzed. although studies show the amount of sleep needed doesn't appear to diminish with age. heart rate and respiration speed up and become erratic during REM sleep. National Sleep Foundation. After stage 4 sleep. but paralysis occurs simultaneously in the major voluntary muscle groups. REM is a mixture of encephalic (brain) states of excitement and muscular immobility. Caffeine and other stimulants can temporarily overcome the effects of severe sleep deprivation. the body usually returns to stage 2 sleep. http://psychology. but cannot do so for extended periods of time. Sleep cycles through these stages approximately 4 or 5 times throughout the night.htm What Happens During Sleep? Sleep is prompted by natural cycles of activity in the brain and consists of two basic states: rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. As you get older. The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes. whereas adults spend only about 20% in REM. During sleep. Depression. During adolescence and young adulthood. builds bone and muscle. Sleep does not progress through these stages in sequence. the body prepares to enter deep sleep. The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid. The amount of sleep a person needs also increases if he or she has been deprived of sleep. Infants usually require about 16-18 hours of sleep per day. or delta. and appears to strengthen the immune system. or positive and negative waves. Stage 1 may last for five to 10 minutes. For this reason. Infants can spend up to 50% of their sleep in the REM stage of sleep. rhythmic brain wave activity known as sleep spindles. slow brain waves known as delta waves begin to emerge during stage 3 sleep. Intense dreaming occurs during REM sleep as a result of heightened brain activity. Stage 4 is a deep sleep that lasts for approximately 30 minutes. and the final one may last up to an hour. Sleep begins in stage 1 and progresses into stages 2. These waves indicate spontaneous periods of muscle tone mixed with periods of muscle relaxation. In Stage 1. people begin the sleep cycle with a period of non-REM sleep followed by a very short period of REM sleep. and 4. Sleep deprivation also magnifies alcohols effects on the body. Each stage can last from 5 to 15 minutes. however. Aging is also associated with shorter time spans of sleep. During this stage the eyes move rapidly in different directions. 3. Decreased immune response. the body cycles between non-REM and REM sleep. however. then the cycle starts over again. y y y SOURCES: National Institutes of Health. Stage 4 Stage 4 is sometimes referred to as delta sleep because of the slow brain waves known as delta waves that occur during this time. Polysomnograms show brainwave patterns in REM to be similar to that recorded during wakefulness. Most adults need about 7-8 hours of sleep per day. At this point. a person may feel disoriented for a few minutes. known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Stage 5 Most dreaming occurs during the fifth stage of sleep. if aroused from this stage of sleep. y Stage 2: This is a period of light sleep during which polysomnographic readings show intermittent peaks and valleys. Many may notice the feeling of falling during this stage of sleep. sleep. The heart rate slows and the body temperature decreases. One can be awakened without difficulty. During the deep stages of NREM sleep. so a fatigued person who drinks will become much more impaired than someone who is well-rested. increased respiration rate. while teenagers need about 9 hours per day on average. which are very slow brain waves. they might report that they weren't really asleep. with stage 4 being more intense than Stage 3. Dreaming occurs due because of increased brain activity. People do not seem to adapt to getting less sleep than they need. one of which is age. This period of sleep lasts only a brief time (around 5-10 minutes). but each cycle becomes longer. Once REM sleep is over.period between wakefulness and sleep. REM sleep is characterized by eye movement. which may cause a sudden muscle contraction (called hypnic myoclonia). If aroused from sleep during these stages. which consists of Stages 1 through 4. REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep because while the brain and other body systems become more active muscles become more relaxed. A completed cycle of sleep consists of a progression from stages 1-4 before REM sleep is attained. How Much Sleep Do You Need? The amount of sleep a person needs depends on the individual. . you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after sleep onset. Bed-wetting and sleepwalking usually occur at the end of stage 4 sleep. In people without sleep disorders.about. On average. the percentage of REM sleep declines. a person may feel as if he or she has not slept. Stage 3 Deep. What Is Non-REM Sleep? The period of NREM sleep is made up of stages 1-4. Body temperature starts to decrease and heart rate begins to slow. The percentage of REM sleep is highest during infancy and early childhood. stage 3 and then stage 2 sleep are repeated before entering REM sleep. so REM sleep can last up to an hour as sleep progresses. Stage 3 is a transitional period between light sleep and a very deep sleep. The need for sleep depends on various pStages. and if you awaken someone in the stage. Stages 3 and 4: These are deep sleep stages. we enter the REM stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. These stages are known as slow-wave. Sleep deprivation also increases pain perception on pain simulation testing. it is sometimes called paradoxical sleep. Typically.