Sleep is important to your total body's health. This page discusses the different cycles of sleep and ways to enhance your sleep experience.
What Happens During Sleep?
You don't notice it, of course, but while you're asleep, your brain is still active. As people sleep, their brains pass through five stages of sleep. Together, stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep make up a sleep cycle. One complete sleep cycle lasts about 90 to 100 minutes. So during an average night's sleep, a person will experience about four or five cycles of sleep.
Stages 1 and 2 are periods of light sleep from which a person can easily be awakened. During these stages, eye movements slow down and eventually stop, heart and breathing rates slow down, and body temperature decreases. Stages 3 and 4 are deep sleep stages. It's more difficult to awaken someone during these stages, and when awakened, a person will often feel groggy and disoriented for a few minutes. Stages 3 and 4 are the most refreshing of the sleep stages — it is this type of sleep that we crave when we are very tired.
The final stage of the sleep cycle is known as REM sleep because of the rapid eye movements that occur during this stage. During REM sleep, other physical changes take place — breathing becomes rapid, the heart beats faster, and the limb muscles don't move. This is the stage of sleep when a person has the most vivid dreams.
Information found above is from http://teenshealth.org. All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2010 The Nemours Foundation.
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