There are five unique stages of sleep that are different and equally important to getting rest. Your body naturally phases in and out of these stages when you are experiencing quality, healthy sleep.
Five Stages of Sleep
The five stages of sleep start with a light, dozing sleep known as stage one. Stage one is the drowsy, relaxed state between sleeping and waking. During this stage, breathing slows, muscles relax and the heart rate drops. Most people who are awakened from this stage will insist that they were not sleeping.
Eventually, stage one drifst into stage two. Stage two is deeper than stage one, but it is still a light sleep. You may still feel awake during stage two, which means sometimes you are asleep and don’t know it.
Stages three and four are both deep sleep. This is the most relaxed stages and because the body and mind are so relaxed, it is hard to wake from these stages.
After deep sleep, you briefly go back to stage two before entering the final stage, stage five, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This is when you dream. In this stage, brain activity is high. Because of the high activity rate in the mind and body, you’re more likely to be more alert if awakened during this stage than if awakened during deep sleep.
The importance of each stage of sleep
Each stage of sleep exists for a different purpose and has different benefits. Because of that, it’s important to experience each of the five stages for healthy, quality sleep.
Deep sleep, stages three and four, provides the brain and the body with essential rest. It renews the body and the mind and replaces energy. This essential renewal makes deep sleep the most important stage of sleep. If you are deprived of sleep, deep sleep is the first sleep stage the brain makes up for. Furthermore, loss of deep sleep also causes the greatest negative effects on daytime functioning. Each stage of sleep is important, but stages three and four are most important because they give your body the deepest rest. If you are deprived of sleep, these are the stage your body makes up first.
Dream sleep, also known as REM sleep or stage five, is important for specific cognitive functions. In addition to creating dreams, REM sleep is when your brain saves newly learned information into memory. Students often devote a majority of their sleep to stage five sleep.
Stage two is a milder sleep stage, but it is essential in energy renewal. It is simply a lighter form of deep sleep and the precursor to deeper sleep. Meanwhile, stage one is an important time of relaxation for the mind and the body. It’s this stage that most people enjoy, drifting in and out of a comfy sleep. The main purpose of stage one sleep is that it helps your mind and body get ready for sleep.