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Understanding the 4 Stages of Sleep and Their Importance

July 16, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — sleepbetterteam @ 3:26 pm
Woman waking up after enjoying the stages of sleep in Wesley Chapel

When you drift off to sleep, you begin a journey. Your body takes you through four different stages of sleep in Wesley Chapel, and each stage plays an important role in supporting your health. Unfortunately, disruptions in your sleep cycle can deprive you of the benefits of some of those stages. Let’s talk about what happens during each stage of sleep and what you can do to get through your sleep cycle without interruptions.

Stages 1 and 2: Light Sleep

As soon as you nod off, you enter the first stage of the sleep cycle. Your eye movements, heartbeat, and breathing all slow down. However, you are still somewhat alert. If someone disturbs you during this part of your sleep cycle, you might not even realize that you had fallen asleep.

After approximately 5 – 10 minutes of stage 1 sleep, you enter into stage 2. You become much less alert, your eye movements cease, and your body temperature drops. Your brain produces special waves called sleep spindles. Most people spend about half of their total sleep time in this second stage.

Stages 3 and 4: Deep Sleep

After stage 2, you transition into the deeper stages of sleep. During stage 3, it becomes difficult to awaken you. Your body begins to repair damaged tissues and muscles, and your brain works on organizing and consolidating new memories. Your body also produces cytokines, a type of protein that is essential for your immune system’s operation. In teenagers and young children, stage 3 sleep plays a key role in their overall growth and development.

Following stage 3, you progress into stage 4, which is also referred to as REM sleep. REM stands for “rapid eye movement.” During this stage, your eyes dart quickly in different directions. Your heartrate and blood pressure increase, and your breathing is relatively shallow. Your brain continues to work on consolidating new memories, especially ones that involve emotions. The majority of dreams take place during REM sleep.

The Value of Uninterrupted Sleep

The four stages of sleep each happen several times each night. To fully benefit from each stage, you should be able to rest without disturbance. Sadly, disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can interrupt your cycle, shortening the amount of time you spend in the third and fourth stages. Individuals with OSA may find that their memory, emotional health, and overall health may all suffer.

If you often feel tired despite spending 7 – 9 hours asleep, it is possible that you have OSA. Fortunately, treating OSA is usually fairly simple. Many patients find that a custom oral sleep appliance from a dentist is an effective and convenient treatment.

Sleep is an important part of your head-to-toe wellness! Monitoring the qualify of your rest can help you fully benefit from all four stages of sleep.

Meet the Sleep Apnea Expert

Dr. Jay A. Nelson is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, the American Academy of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine, and the American Board of Sleep and Breathing. He focuses on helping patients treat sleep apnea in Wesley Chapel via oral appliance therapy. If you are concerned that you may be suffering from OSA, Dr. Nelson would be happy to consult with you. Contact our practice at 813-733-4169. 

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