When it comes to a good night’s sleep, you should not settle for anything less than quality sleep. While sleep can be achieved by many, one with quality is not necessarily available to everyone. With our hectic schedules and modern lifestyles, a lot of us run on little to no sleep that getting a few hours more feels energizing already.
But what exactly is “quality sleep”? Most define quality sleep as the regular, ample nightly slumber you get which leaves you feeling rested and fully restored by the morning. Technically speaking, though, it means that you’re getting enough sleep cycles, letting your systems do its job in restoring your body to its best shape.
If your goal is to train yourself how to get quality sleep, the very first step is to understand sleep better. What a lot of people don’t know is that sleep is composed of 4 different stages of sleep, which are the following:
Stage 1: Light Sleep
This is the time when your body drifts off to sleep and your muscle activity slows down. Light dreams are also typically experienced during this stage. It is also typically characterized by sudden muscle contractions and that sensation of falling. 5% of your total time asleep is composed of your stage 1 sleep.
Stage 2: Light Sleep Phase 2
By stage 2, your body is already falling into deeper sleep. By this time, your breathing and heart beat slows down, as well as your temperature starts to drop, easing you to a more relaxed slumber. This stage is highly important as it is the time when alertness is being restored. For naps, sleep should only reach stage 2, as it is all you need to bounce back from a midday slump.
50% of your total time asleep is spent in stage 2. It can help make you feel rested and awake, but it is not exactly enough to keep you running for a long time.
Stage 3: Slow Wave Sleep
Also known as the official deep sleep stage, stage 3 is when your body rests as your heart beat slows down and your muscles relax to achieve an engrossed slumber. Your brain also pauses dreaming at this point and all of your energies are focused on restoring, healing, and regenerating your body.
Deep sleep is extremely essential as it is when your immunity is worked on. Protein and enzyme regenerations are also done during this phase, getting your body ready for the next day.
Only 20% of your overall slumber is spent on stage 3, though, making it all the more important. Missing out on this phase could compromise your overall health in the long run, especially since it is your immunity that needs this time of your day to take a break and rebuild itself. However, for naps, entering stage 3 could be a unideal. Getting woken up in stage 3 can leave you groggy and disoriented, making your sleep feel all the more tired and unfulfilling.
Stage 4: REM Sleep
REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is the most interesting sleep stage. While it is still not fully understood by scientists, research proves it to be a very important phase during our slumber. 25% of our overall slumber is spent in REM sleep, wherein we experience dreaming, our memories committed and stored, as well as our emotions stabilized. It is also an essential for infant’s brain growth, as it is the time of the day when your little one’s brain is being developed.
While our body is immobile during the REM phase, our brains are totally hard at work at this time of the night, making this stage a paradoxical one. This makes the REM phase a completely interesting process.
According to experts, a complete sleep cycle takes 90 minutes, and to achieve quality sleep, you need to get at least 4 to 5 cycles in. This is why it is recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep nightly, so you can be at your best everyday.
Quality sleep is also all about undisrupted slumber. As sleep stages normally reset once you wake up, getting woken up frequently at night will definitely affect your sleep cycles and prevent you from getting a full night’s rest.
By completing all of these sleep stages and cycles, you can better enjoy the many benefits of quality sleep. With all of the important processes that take place during sleep, getting to know the them is just one simple step in understanding the importance of your slumber. While you will need additional effort in developing a healthy sleeping habit, knowing the seriousness of your nightly shuteye may already be a big step in helping you work on getting some quality zzz’s.