The 3 Phases of Sleep

For as long as I can remember I have loved sleeping.  I swear I was a cat in my past life. According to Matthew Walker the author of Why We Sleep: “Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day – Mother nature’s best effort yet contra-death.”

One of the basic tenants or excellent self-care is discovering your chronotype and getting at least 8 hours sleep.

As a self-care coach, one of the first questions I ask my clients is what time they go to bed, what time do they wake up and if they could choose what time would they wake up in the morning. These answers help me to determine which of the 3 types of chronotypes they are: Lark, Owl or Lawl. 

Today I am going to speak about the 3 phases of sleep. Understanding how we sleep and determining if we are getting enough sleep is a vital tool in self-care.  To improve our productivity and presenteeism (the ability to be present in the moment).

1. REM – dream (15 – 25%) approximately 1h 30 mins of our 8 hours of sleep

According to the Oxford dictionary REM sleep is defined as a kind of sleep that occurs at intervals during the night and is characterized by rapid eye movements, more dreaming and bodily movement, and faster pulse and breathing.

Carl Jung and Siegmund Freud both developed theories on how to decipher dreams.  Jung recognised that each element of the dream was, in fact, a reflection of the dreamer.  Freud connected our sexual desires to the different aspects of the dream itself. In my work as a self-care coach, I have found both theories to be useful in helping my clients to understand themselves and their self-care.

2. Light (40 – 60%) approximately 5 hours

According to Emily Bertha  light sleep is a non-REM stage, and it’s easiest to wake up during this stage. It occurs in stages 1-2. Light sleep may not sound very important, but it is a part of our sleep cycle that we need to wake up feeling refreshed. The first stage of light sleep is a transition phase and only makes up about 3% of our total time asleep; most light sleep happens in the second stage. The second stage of light sleep consists of over half of our time asleep each night. We can fall asleep and dream during this stage, but the dreams are not as intense as they are during REM sleep.

Typically as people age, they spend more time each night in light sleep. There is no specific amount of time needed in this phase since it’s not as refreshing as deep sleep. However, light sleep is still a necessary sleep stage for proper brain functioning.

During light sleep:

  • your body’s systems continue to slow and relax
  • your core temperature drops
  • your eye movements stop
  • your brain waves are slow, but you have some short bursts of activity
3. Deep (12 – 18%) approximately 1hr 30 mins

What is Deep sleep and why is it important?‘ according to Healthline. 

You may have heard that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. But, the quality of sleep you get also matters.

While you rest, your body goes through different stages of the sleep cycle. Deep sleep, for example, is the stage of sleep you need to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Unlike rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, deep sleep is when your body and brain waves slow down.

It’s hard to wake from a deep sleep, and if you do, you may feel particularly groggy.

During deep sleep:

  • your heartbeat and breathing become their slowest as your muscles relax
  • your brain waves become the slowest they’ll be while you’re asleep
  • it’s difficult to awaken even with loud noises.

As a self-care coach, I highly recommend you get at least 8 hours of sleep.  If you do not get quality sleep you are more prone to burn out and suffering from other mental disorders.

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