Whenever you fall asleep, there’s quite a lot going on in your brain and body. There are 4 distinct stages of sleep, and you need to go through each one of them to reap the full benefits of a good night’s rest; if the cycle is interrupted by sleep apnea, then you won’t be enjoying a proper full night’s rest no matter how early you went to bed. Take the time to learn more about the different stages of sleep and why you should take every possible step to make sure that your body can complete the cycle.
Stages 1 and 2: Light Sleep
When you first fall asleep, you always start at stage 1 of the sleep cycle regardless of how tired you are. At this stage, eye movements will start to slow down, but the body will still be somewhat alert; a loud noise or another outside stimuli could easily wake you up. When you get to stage 2, the brain starts producing special waves called sleep spindles, which are thought to help prevent you from waking up too early. This particular stage often takes up half of the sleep cycle. Together, stages 1 and 2 are considered to be “light sleep”.
Stage 3: Deep Sleep
Once you reach the third stage of sleep, it’s much harder to wake you up, hence why this stage is known as “deep sleep.” It’s at this point that the restorative benefits of sleep kick in. The body will start repairing damaged muscles and tissues, and it will produce special substances called cytokines that strengthen the immune system. This stage serves an additional purpose for children and teenagers: it encourages proper growth.
Stage 4: REM Sleep
The final stage of sleep is often called REM sleep, which is short for “rapid eye movement sleep.” The eyes start to jerk in various directions due to specific brain activity, and your heart rate and blood pressure will both rise. This stage is essential for maintaining long-term memory, as it’s the point where the brain consolidates the information that you learned the day before. After REM sleep is complete, you’ll return to stage 1, and the cycle will repeat until you wake up.
Why Uninterrupted Sleep Is Important
If you’re constantly waking up during the night, then your body will never reach stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle. Since these are the stages that are most important for restoring energy and maintaining mental functions, skipping them takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
Is sleep apnea or another disorder interrupting your sleep? Call a professional right away to have a proper diagnosis performed. It’s up to you to make sure that the sleep cycle is completed so that you’re at your best when you wake up in the morning.
About the Author
Dr. Mitch Conditt was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in 2009 and found long-lasting relief with oral appliance therapy. Since that time, he has decided to put his 35 years of dental experience to good use helping his patients overcome their own sleep disorders. If you’re concerned that sleep apnea is frequently interrupting your sleep cycle, schedule a consultation with Dr. Conditt by visiting his website or calling (817) 527-8500.