What Happens When You Sleep?

Have you ever wondered what happens when you sleep? Most of us drift into interesting and sometimes fantastical dreams that get forgotten by morning. But there’s more to sleep than you realize. Let’s take a look at the different levels of sleep and how they affect your body. 

Sleep Cycle

The sleep cycle is the group name for the different phases of sleep that your body and mind go through. The entire cycle takes one to two hours to complete and on average, the cycle is completed five times a night during a seven to eight hour period. There are five stages of sleep: NREM 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM. 

Understanding Sleep Cycles and How to Improve Sleep | MyFitnessPal


NREM stands for non-REM sleep. The first stage of sleep is the lightest. Your eyes move slowly, muscles relax, and you tend to drift in and out of sleep. Waking up is pretty easy in this stage since you aren’t fully asleep. Your brain is producing alpha and theta waves. This cycle only lasts about seven minutes.


Stage two is where your body gets ready for deeper sleep. Everything slows down, including your brain, heart beat, and eye movement. You’re body is starting to shut down major functions in preparation for sleep.


Where the first and second stages were preparation, the remaining third stages are for deep sleep. Delta waves, which are incredibly slow brain waves are starting to appear and your entire body slows. It’s very difficult to wake up from these stages. 


The fourth stage, second deep sleep stage is where your brain is mainly working on delta waves.


REM is the most interesting stage of sleep. It is very difficult to out of and is the deepest level of sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, as your eyes rapidly move side-to-side as brain activity ramps up and you begin dreaming. 

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Monet Moore

Written by Monet Moore