What are the different stages of sleep

How to Get More Deep Sleep

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Jay Summer, Staff Writer

Jay Summer

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Jay Summer is a health content writer and editor. She holds a B.S. in psychology and master's degrees in writing and public policy.

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician

Dr. Abhinav Singh

Sleep Physician

Dr. Singh is the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center. His research and clinical practice focuses on the entire myriad of sleep disorders.

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Deep sleep is an important part of sleep that helps sleepers wake up feeling refreshed. Deep sleep has many health benefits including repairing and regrowing bone and muscle and strengthening the immune system. Most deep sleep happens in the first half of the night. 

We discuss tips to help people get more deep sleep naturally, including the benefits of a consistent sleep schedule, stress management and relaxation, caffeine and alcohol avoidance, and a comfortable sleeping environment. People should talk to a doctor if sleeping problems do not improve after trying these tips, or if sleeping problems significantly interfere with their lives.

Tips for Getting More Deep Sleep 

The best way to get more deep sleep is to get enough total hours of sleep and to follow evidence-based tips for healthy sleep. Most deep sleep happens in the first hour or two of sleep. As a result, sleep habits that help people fall asleep faster may also help them to get more deep sleep naturally.

People can also cut out or limit things that make it harder for them to get deep sleep. In some cases, sleepers can make simple changes on their own. However, people should talk to their doctors if they think a medical condition or medication is interfering with their sleep.

Go to Bed On Time

Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. While it may be tempting to stay up late or sleep in on weekends and other days off, research has shown that an inconsistent sleep-wake schedule affects people’s circadian rhythms. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps people fall asleep faster Trusted Source Administration for Community Living The Administration for Community Living was created around the fundamental principle that older adults and people of all ages with disabilities should be able to live where they choose, with the people they choose, and with the ability to participate fully in their communities. View Source so they can get the deep sleep that they need. 

Relax and Manage Stress

Stress and anxiety can make sleeping difficult. Researchers have found that people with a lot of stress not only have difficulty sleeping, but also get less deep sleep Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source . Calming activities that reduce stress may help people sleep more deeply.

Relaxation exercises, deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can naturally reduce anxiety and may improve sleep Trusted Source UpToDate More than 2 million healthcare providers around the world choose UpToDate to help make appropriate care decisions and drive better health outcomes. UpToDate delivers evidence-based clinical decision support that is clear, actionable, and rich with real-world insights. View Source . Taking a bath, reading, or listening to quiet music before bedtime may also leave sleepers relaxed and ready for deep sleep. In addition to relaxing activities, sleepers should try to avoid discussing or thinking about stressful topics before getting into bed. 

People should talk to their doctors if stress and anxiety do not improve with self-care or significantly interfere with their lives.

Avoid or Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine and alcohol both reduce sleep quality and keep people from getting deep sleep. People who want to improve their sleep should avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. However, people who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol should talk to their doctors before quitting or markedly cutting down on alcohol, as alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous.

Keep a Comfortable Bedroom

People in pain or discomfort often have difficulty getting deep sleep. Loud noises and bright lights in or near the sleeping environment may also make it difficult to get deep sleep. To get the best possible sleep, sleepers should keep their bedroom dark, quiet, and cool with a comfortable bed and pillows. Ear plugs, sound machines, and blackout curtains may help people who live in noisy or bright locations.

Stages of Sleep

Sleep is generally divided into rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. As people fall asleep, they advance through three stages of NREM sleep, each progressively deeper, followed by a period of REM sleep. This cycle through each sleep stage is repeated four to six times each night.

  • Stage 1 NREM: This is the lightest stage of sleep and is the transition between wakefulness and sleep. Stage 1 usually lasts only a few minutes. People can be easily woken from stage 1 sleep and typically will not remember having been asleep.
  • Stage 2 NREM: This stage is deeper sleep than stage 1, but sleepers can still be woken by a stronger effort. People typically spend between 45% to 55% of the night in stage 2 sleep.
  • Stage 3 NREM: Stage 3 is the stage of sleep often referred to as deep sleep. It is very difficult to awaken people from deep sleep. If sleepers are awoken from deep sleep, they may feel groggy and confused for up to an hour after waking. 
  • REM: REM sleep is when most dreaming occurs. Most of a sleeper’s muscles are paralyzed during REM sleep, except for the muscles that move the eyes. In this stage, a sleeper’s heart rate, breathing, and brain activity rise to levels similar to when they are awake. 

Stage 3 sleep is deep, high quality rest that helps people feel refreshed when they awaken. Sleepers’ heart rates, breathing, and brain waves are slowest during deep sleep, and their muscles are very relaxed. Most deep sleep happens in the first half of the night.

How Much Deep Sleep Do You Need?

There are no guidelines for the amount of deep sleep a person needs, though most adults spend about 10% to 20% of each night in deep, stage 3 NREM sleep. Time spent in deep sleep also changes through the lifespan. Older adults usually get less deep sleep and REM sleep than middle-aged adults.

Various substances and medical conditions can also affect the amount of time spent in deep sleep. Conditions such as chronic pain, asthma, and heart disease reduce deep sleep. Researchers have also observed that people with depression Trusted Source UpToDate More than 2 million healthcare providers around the world choose UpToDate to help make appropriate care decisions and drive better health outcomes. UpToDate delivers evidence-based clinical decision support that is clear, actionable, and rich with real-world insights. View Source and Alzheimer’s disease Trusted Source UpToDate More than 2 million healthcare providers around the world choose UpToDate to help make appropriate care decisions and drive better health outcomes. UpToDate delivers evidence-based clinical decision support that is clear, actionable, and rich with real-world insights. View Source get less deep sleep than people without these conditions. Some anti-anxiety medicines can also reduce deep sleep, as can both caffeine and alcohol.

The body naturally regulates Trusted Source National Library of Medicine, Biotech Information The National Center for Biotechnology Information advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information. View Source the amount of deep sleep a person gets each night. For example, people who are sleep deprived may get more deep sleep due to a phenomenon called rebound sleep Trusted Source UpToDate More than 2 million healthcare providers around the world choose UpToDate to help make appropriate care decisions and drive better health outcomes. UpToDate delivers evidence-based clinical decision support that is clear, actionable, and rich with real-world insights. View Source . Rebound sleep involves having more REM and deep sleep after a period of sleep loss. 

Benefits of Deep Sleep

Although researchers are still uncovering the role and benefits of each stage of sleep, deep sleep may have important health benefits. Studies suggest that deep sleep helps people wake up refreshed, restores the body, and helps with learning and memory formation.

  • Hormone regulation: Deep sleep may help to regulate several hormones in the body, including growth hormone and prolactin. Growth hormone affects a variety of processes in the body, including growth and metabolism. Prolactin is an important hormone for pregnant people, contributing to breast growth and lactation.
  • Immunity: Deep sleep also strengthens the immune system by supporting the hormonal shifts needed for the body to respond to foreign or disease-carrying organisms.
  • Learning and memory: Researchers believe that NREM sleep stages promote learning and may play a role in memory formation. While deep sleep likely has an important role in the process of memory formation, exactly how deep sleep affects memory is still unclear.
  • Clearing waste products: Deep sleep may play a role in clearing out waste products from the cerebrospinal fluid that build up during the day. Deep sleep may be particularly important for removing waste products associated with the development of dementia.

What Happens if You Do Not Get Enough Deep Sleep

Not getting enough deep sleep may affect the release of important hormones, interfere with learning and memory, and hamper the removal of waste products from the cerebrospinal fluid.

Sleep loss in general is associated with difficulties focusing and thinking clearly. Sleep deprivation can also cause a person to have mood changes or to feel so tired that it interferes with their daily activities Trusted Source UpToDate More than 2 million healthcare providers around the world choose UpToDate to help make appropriate care decisions and drive better health outcomes. UpToDate delivers evidence-based clinical decision support that is clear, actionable, and rich with real-world insights. View Source . Sleep loss also increases the risk of accidents and mistakes at work or school due to excessive sleepiness.

Over the long term, people who do not get enough sleep are at risk for several health conditions including heart conditions, high blood pressure, and stroke. Chronic sleep loss is also associated with an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

When to Talk to a Doctor About Sleep Problems

People should talk to a doctor if they have sleep problems that do not improve after implementing healthy sleep tips or that significantly interfere with their daily life. People should also talk to a doctor if they suspect their sleeping problems may be caused by a health condition or medication.

Depending on a person’s needs, a doctor may recommend tests or treatments for sleep problems. For example, a doctor may ask a patient to keep a detailed sleep diary to better help them understand their sleep patterns. If a doctor suspects a sleep disorder, then they may recommend a sleep study to help diagnose the condition. If the doctor suspects the sleep problems are caused by a medical condition, then they may do additional tests for that condition.

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Jay Summer is a health content writer and editor. She holds a B.S. in psychology and master's degrees in writing and public policy.

Dr. Singh is the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center. His research and clinical practice focuses on the entire myriad of sleep disorders.

Learn more about our Editorial Team


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Learn More About Stages of Sleep

Stages of Sleep

By Eric Suni March 2, 2023

What is NREM Sleep?

By Danielle Pacheco February 14, 2023

Slow-Wave Sleep

By Rob Newsom January 24, 2023

Paradoxical Sleep

By Rob Newsom March 25, 2022

What Are The 4 Stages Of Sleep & What Does Each Stage Do?

Each night you take a rollercoaster ride through the different phases of sleep. Though you’re unaware of what goes on while you’re snoozing, your brain and body are in an active state.

Each stage of sleep plays a different role in how you feel the next day. Read on to learn which stage helps your brain, which restores your body, and if you’re striking a good balance between the stages each night.

What Are the 4 Stages of Sleep?

There are traditionally 4 stages of sleep: awake, light, deep, and REM sleep. Each one plays an essential role in maintaining your mental and physical health.

As you’re reading about sleep, you may also see the terms “NREM” or “NREM Stages 1-4.” These are simply other terms for the phases of sleep.

  • REM sleep stands for “rapid eye movement” and can also be called “stage R”
  • NREM (or non-rapid eye movement) sleep includes light and deep sleep stages, and may also be referred to NREM stages 1-4, with light sleep being NREM stages 1-2 and deep sleep encompassing NREM stages 3-4

What Happens in Each Stage of Sleep?

Each stage of sleep plays a different role in preparing your body for the next day.

Why Awake Time Matters

It’s normal to wake up some times during the night, whether or not you’re conscious of being awakened. In the Oura App, you’ll see your amount of Awake Time shown in your Sleep tab. The nighttime Movement graph also gives you an idea of how many times you wake up during the night (find it by tapping the arrow just below Sleep Stages to expand this view). A tall, white line indicates excessive movement, suggesting you were likely awake.

If you feel refreshed in the morning and energetic during the day, you most likely don’t need to worry about your wake-ups or movement during the night. However, if you’re feeling fatigued, it could be an indication of something that’s affecting your sleep quality, or an untreated sleep disorder like sleep apnea.

If you’re seeing lots of awake time, another indicator to check is your Blood Oxygen Levels and your Breathing Regularity score — learn more about these metrics here.

READ MORE: Restless Sleep? How to Reduce Tossing and Turning at Night

Why Light Sleep Matters

Despite its name, light sleep is no lightweight when it comes to your health. It’s a key stage of sleep that delivers benefits to your brain and body, including codifying memories and boosting creativity. And that’s nothing to sleep on, given that about half of your time asleep — about 50% — is spent in this stage.

Light sleep actually occurs in two stages: NREM stages 1 and 2 sleep. Think of NREM stage 1 as “falling asleep.” During this time, your muscles relax, your heart begins to slow down, and your body temperature dips. Your brain waves slow down, moving from a regular, rhythmic pattern to one with less frequent, less regular waves. Stage 1 sleep usually only lasts a few minutes.

NREM stage 2 sleep makes up the bulk of your NREM sleep. During this stage of sleep, your muscles relax, and may jerk. Your respiration and heart rate slow down, your body temperature drops, and your brain waves also slow down and increase in amplitude.

READ MORE: Light Sleep: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?

Why Deep Sleep Matters

Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, is the body’s most rejuvenating sleep stage. During deep sleep, which occurs in the third NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep cycle, your body gets busy repairing and restoring many systems, from your brain to your muscles.

During deep sleep, your body slows way down. Your heart rate and breathing are at their lowest rate, and your muscles are fully relaxed. Your brain’s electrical activity slows down into long, slow waves known as delta waves, hence the name “slow-wave sleep.” It’s difficult to be woken up during this stage — and if you do, you can expect to feel groggy and “out of it.”

Typically, deep sleep occurs within an hour of falling asleep and you usually get more deep sleep during the earlier part of the night.

READ MORE: Deep Sleep: What Is It and How to Get More

Why REM Sleep Matters

During REM sleep, as the name suggests, your eyes move rapidly behind your closed eyelids, your heart rate speeds up, and breathing becomes irregular. Brain activity also speeds up, mimicking brainwave activity while you’re awake. You may also experience irregular, jerky muscle twitches as you dream, and it tends to be more difficult to wake up during REM sleep. To protect yourself from acting out dreams, your body can also a loss of muscle tone during REM.

While it’s no longer true that you only dream during REM sleep, studies suggest that about 80% of vivid dream recall results after arousal from this stage of sleep.

Research has shown that REM plays an incredibly important role in both emotional health and learning. “Essentially, REM is creating a revised mind-wide web of associations,” explains Matthew Walker, Ph.D., author of Why We Sleep. “We make connections during REM sleep.” Furthermore, getting enough REM sleep may help mitigate potentially negative emotional reactions.

READ MORE: REM Sleep: What Is It and How to Get More

The amount of each of the 4 stages of sleep can vary significantly between nights and individuals. During an ideal night’s sleep, your body has enough time to go through four to five 90-minute cycles that sample different phases of sleep as the night progresses.

In general, each cycle moves sequentially through each of the 4 stages of sleep: wake, light sleep, deep sleep, REM, and repeat.  Cycles earlier in the night tend to have more deep sleep while later cycles have a higher proportion of REM. By the final cycle, your body may even choose to skip deep sleep altogether.

Overall, your body spends the majority of the night in light sleep. How much time you spend in REM or deep can vary widely by individual but below are the averages you can expect for each stage in a single night.

How Much Time Do You Spend in Each of the 4 Stages of Sleep?

All stages of sleep are important and your body naturally regulates your sleep cycles to make sure you get what you need. Tools like the Oura Ring can help you monitor your sleep patterns and generate a Sleep Score each night to help you improve your sleep.

Check out these patterns to see if your sleep is being disrupted:

  • Increase in deep sleep after a hard workout: Studies show that exercise can increase your body’s prioritization of deep sleep the night after an intensive workout.
  • Higher REM rebound after sleep deprivation: When you recover from a period of sleep deprivation, your body prioritizes deep sleep for the first few nights to repair your body and prepare for action. After several nights of sufficient deep sleep, REM sleep rebounds  to focus on your brain.
  • Interrupted sleep cycles after caffeine: Caffeine can increase the time it takes for you to fall asleep, cutting your sleep period short. Shorter sleep periods disproportionately cut down on your total REM sleep, as REM cycles are more likely to occur in later sleep cycles.

Taking a look at your nightly patterns (e.g. heart rate, body temperature) and acting on your desire to improve your sleep can help you face those days well rested.

RELATED: Why You Shouldn’t Stress About Getting the “Perfect” Night of Sleep

Tags : Sleep

Oura Team

Sleep phases: what they are, what they affect and how to get enough sleep

. Doctors say

Updated on September 12, 2022, 14:44


Human sleep is cyclical and consists of phases. Each of them is responsible for certain functions - from the development of cognitive skills to general health. When the body has gone through all the phases in a dream, in the morning we feel cheerfulness and a surge of strength. Lack or disturbance of sleep, on the contrary, worsens well-being, affects memory and the ability to think clearly, and chronic sleep deprivation is fraught with serious neurological disorders. We understand what sleep hygiene is and in which phase it is better to wake up in order to feel good.


  1. What is the sleep phase
  2. What are the
  3. How to get enough sleep: the rules
  4. How to control

What is sleep phase


In sleep, a person restores the balance between the neuronal centers of the brain

The sleep phase is one of the stages in the sleep cycle, characterized by a certain activity of brain neurons, changes in muscle tone and eye movements. During the night, a person sequentially goes through two phases - fast (REM) and slow (NREM), which, in turn, consists of three stages. Phases and stages follow each other, forming a cycle of up to about 110 minutes each.

The sequence of these stages in healthy people is the same, but their quality and duration vary. This is due to many factors: age, gender, bad habits, stress levels, medications and diseases, including provoking frequent awakenings - sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Vladislav SinitsynPhD, neurologist "SM-Clinic" in Ivanovo

“The physiology of sleep is not fully understood. It is a dynamic process that affects almost every system in the body, from the brain to metabolism and immunity. Among the main mechanisms that determine sleep, the following are distinguished.

  • Circadian rhythms. This is just one of the varieties of biorhythms that, in the context of sleep, determine the mode of wakefulness and night rest. The periods of the circadian rhythm can vary significantly from person to person. Some go to bed early and get enough sleep early in the morning, others go late and cannot get up early. Correction of the biological clock is carried out in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the anterior lobe of the hypothalamus, which is located above the optic chiasm of the brain. For example, some people with CCN damage sleep erratically during the day because they cannot match their circadian rhythms to the light-dark cycle [1].
  • ** Melatonin ** - sleep hormone. Its concentration gradually increases with the onset of twilight, reaching a maximum by four or five in the morning. Then its level slowly decreases, and the person wakes up. Even dim lighting at first glance can delay the synthesis of melatonin and thus disrupt sleep.
  • Autonomic nervous system (ANS). When the sympathetic component of the ANS predominates, the metabolism is accelerated, falling asleep is difficult, and sleep is disturbed. The parasympathetic nervous system helps the body prepare for rest. In different people with different types of higher nervous activity, the ANS works differently.

With age, sleep performance changes: its duration decreases, it becomes fragmented, and the slow phase is reduced. Thus, the sleep characteristic changes even if there are no health problems.

Daytime sleep at any age is not equivalent to nighttime sleep. Melatonin is produced only at night, during the day our body has a higher temperature, which also affects sleep. In addition, it can exacerbate health problems, as the body does not fully implement the recovery program.

What are the phases of sleep


Phases and stages of sleep alternate in a certain sequence

First comes the slow phase, followed by a shorter period of the fast phase. Then everything is repeated, a total of four to six times a night. The slow phase consists of three stages, which are replaced in turn, and one of them, the second, is repeated twice. A typical sequence of stages and phases looks like this: N1, N2, N3, N2, REM [2].

Stages of non-REM sleep

  • N1 - the shortest period of falling asleep, which lasts from one to five minutes. The body is not yet completely relaxed, while the heartbeat and breathing begin to slow down. It's easy to wake someone up.
  • N2 - a person spends almost half of his sleep in it. It is characterized by a slowing of breathing, a decrease in body temperature and a complete cessation of eye movements. At this stage, the brain is most actively processing memories, translating them into long-term memory. This is how we remember what we have learned.
  • N3 - during this period, the main rest and recovery of the body occurs, including the strengthening of immunity and other functions [3]. Stage N3 is the stage of deep sleep, so waking up a person going through this phase is the most difficult.

Vladislav Sinitsin:

“If you interrupt your sleep in the slow phase, then, in addition to worsening your general well-being, your concentration will be disturbed, irritability will appear, and efficiency will decrease.

REM sleep

The first time it occurs not earlier than an hour and a half after the person fell asleep. With each new cycle, its duration increases. In total, REM sleep takes up 25-30% of the time. It is in the fast phase that a person sees dreams and develops key cognitive skills, such as learning or creativity [4]. On the advice of experts, it is impossible to artificially shorten the fast phase, since the body is preparing for awakening and vigorous activity, the connection between consciousness and physiological processes in the brain is turned on.

How to get enough sleep by sleep phases: rules


Changing the basic characteristics of sleep phases can affect thinking, mood and overall health

We cannot fully control our sleep cycles, but there are steps we can take to improve the quality of our sleep. Sleep Hygiene is a set of simple rules that will help you fall asleep and sleep better.

Lada OleksenkoExpert of the Children-Butterflies Foundation, psychiatrist, State Budgetary Healthcare Institution of the Moscow Region "LCCH"

“The following recommendations should be followed.

  • Melatonin, which is produced only in complete darkness, is responsible for the quality of sleep. There should not be any light sources in the bedroom - a night lamp, light from a lantern in the window, a TV turned on, etc.
  • The body prepares for sleep gradually, so in the evening you need to reduce physical activity and limit the use of gadgets to calm the nervous system.
  • It is desirable to go to bed and get up at the same time, even on weekends and holidays. This is the key to healthy sleep in accordance with biological rhythms.
  • Ventilate the room. The optimum temperature in the room is +18 °C.
  • It makes sense to abstain from alcohol and smoking before going to bed. The latter, according to doctors, is a sure way to insomnia. Caffeine also impairs falling asleep and interferes with deep sleep.
  • Look after the bed. Use comfortable mattress, blanket, pillows and bedding. Change them regularly, avoid synthetic materials. "

How to control sleep phases

Vladislav Sinitsyn:

“Today, there are technologies that help determine what phase of sleep a person is in, as well as identify its quality. For this, an electroencephalogram (EEG) is used, which shows the difference in brain activity. In addition, in order to sleep correctly in phases, you can use the options of various sleep calculators and specialized mobile applications. But in them, as a rule, the average rate and duration are calculated: 70% - slow sleep, 30% - fast. It is impossible to increase one phase of sleep at the expense of another. But, following the general rules, you can prolong slow sleep.

Lada Oleksenko:

“To feel alert and rested, you need to wake up in the fast phase. The reliability of various gadgets that calculate the wake-up time is no more than 80%. You can do it yourself. For example, during the week go to bed at the same time, and get up at different times. So, by your own feelings, you can understand in which of the phases you woke up. After that, you can calculate how many minutes you have in one cycle and how many of them you pass per night.


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Nadezhda Gurina

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all about how, how much and why sleep 9,0001,

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Sones occupies a third of our lives. If you live 90 years, you will sleep through 30 of them. A lot, right? This condition is the subject of research by many scientists around the world (neurologists, psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists). Everyone wonders how much sleep you need? How does sleep affect productivity? What to do if you can't sleep?

Sleep is a special state of consciousness, as well as a natural physiological process, characterized by a reduced reaction to the outside world and specific brain activity.

Israel Sundseth/Unsplash.com

The structure of human sleep includes two phases: slow-wave sleep (Non-REM) and fast sleep (REM, or REM - “rapid eye movement”).

Slow sleep
Comes on immediately after falling asleep. Consists of four stages. The total duration of the Non-REM phase is about 90 minutes. The breathing is calm, even, the pressure decreases, the eyes first make slow movements, and then they are motionless, the brain is inactive, the body is relaxed. You rest, restore physical strength.

REM sleep
Follows REM sleep and lasts 10 to 20 minutes. The temperature and pressure rise, the heart beats faster. The body is immobilized, with the exception of the muscles responsible for the heartbeat and breathing. Under closed eyelids, eyeballs make quick movements (hence the name - REM). The brain is active. You see dreams.

Non-REM and REM phases alternate with each other. First, you fall into slow sleep and go through all its stages. This takes about 90 minutes. Then comes the phase of REM sleep. The first time it is short, no more than 5 minutes. This cycle is called the sleep cycle. The cycles are repeated. At the same time, the proportion of non-REM sleep decreases and the duration of REM sleep increases (up to 1 hour). A healthy person usually goes through five cycles of sleep at a time.

Good sleep contributes to success in professional and personal life. Agree, you are unlikely to hear “Yes!” If during the interview you yawn or fall asleep at the screening of your favorite movie of a girl you like.

But most importantly, sleep is a guarantee of health. During sleep, a number of important hormones are produced, tissues are regenerated, and physical strength is replenished. The brain is also not idle: some of its areas become even more active than during wakefulness.

Dyaa Eldin/Unsplash.com

Have you noticed that when you want to sleep, some tasks seem too difficult, but once you get enough sleep, the solution comes by itself? The fact is that during sleep, selective, that is, selective, erasure of memory occurs. The brain analyzes the information received during the day: the unnecessary is sent to the “basket”, and the important from the short-term memory is “archived” into the long-term. This is how our memories are formed. Improves perception, concentration and learning ability.

Lack of sleep impairs the functioning of certain parts of the brain. For example, inhibition of neural processes in the parietal lobe is observed, which may cause problems with the reaction rate. And when the work of the prefrontal cortex slows down, it is difficult for a person to formulate thoughts, there may be problems with vision. Fatigue of the brain turns into a whole bunch of negative consequences.

  1. Deterioration of cognitive functions (memory, attention, thinking), coordination, speech, orientation, control and others. Often this leads to accidents at work and on the road. According to statistics, every fifth accident occurs due to the fact that the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
  2. Immunity vulnerability. Studies show that lack of sleep increases the risk of getting sick by three times. During sleep, the immune system synthesizes cytokines. The more infections around, the more they are required. But if a person sleeps little, then there is simply no time to produce cytokines. No wonder they say that sleep heals.
  3. Overeating and excess weight. Lack of sleep stimulates the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. As a result, the person overeats. A tired brain requires more and tastier food.
  4. Decreased productivity. When a person wants to sleep, he does everything slowly and poorly. What usually takes an hour can take two, three or more. And not the fact that it will not have to be redone. The efficiency of time stolen from sleep tends to zero.
  5. Decreased motivation. Chronic lack of sleep destroys motivation like groundwater erodes a foundation. Every day less and less I want to move forward towards my goals.
  6. Bad habits and bad mood. Lack of sleep is a serious obstacle to the formation of good habits. But an excellent catalyst for harmful ones: with a lack of sleep, a person is looking for external stimulants (nicotine, caffeine, and so on). A sleepy person is quick-tempered, irritable and offended by the whole world.
  7. Bad appearance. Lack of sleep is literally imprinted on the face in the form of bruises and bags under the eyes. Prolonged lack of sleep provokes premature aging of the skin.

Israel Sundseth/Unsplash.com

The situation is aggravated by the fact that often a person does not realize or does not recognize the decline in their mental and physical abilities: “Sleep is for the weak! I'm fine!".

Long-term sleep deprivation can cause serious health problems: the risk of developing heart and vascular diseases, diabetes mellitus. However, there are people who consider sleep a waste of time and deliberately keep it to a minimum.

Time is the most valuable and, alas, irreplaceable resource.
Wasting it on sleep is a crime.
This is the philosophy of polyphasic sleep supporters.

Ryan Hutton/Unsplash.com

Polyphasic sleep is a sleep pattern in which sleep time is broken up into several short periods instead of a long rest once a day. At the same time, the total duration of sleep is significantly reduced, and wakefulness increases to 20-22 hours.

  • Dymaxion - four times for 30 minutes every 6 hours. Total - 2 hours.
  • Uberman - six times for 20 minutes every 4 hours. Total - 2 hours.
  • Everyman - 1.5-3 hours at night and three times 20 minutes during the day. Total - 2.5-4 hours.
  • Tesla - 2 hours at night and 20 minutes during the day. Total - 2 hours 20 minutes.

Rafael Fabricio/Unsplash. com

Sleep is shortened by skipping Non-REM phases. According to supporters of the polyphasic pattern, the main energy recharging occurs during REM sleep, which means that you need to immediately “dive” into it, without wasting time on slow sleep.

Of course, training is needed. If you do not know how to fall asleep quickly and do not like to sleep during the day, it will be difficult. But gradually the body will get used to it, and the brain will tune in to the desired wave.

Polyphasic sleep was practiced by many prominent personalities: Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Nikola Tesla, Bucky Fuller. Among our contemporaries are the president of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, businessman and billionaire Donald Trump, basketball player Kobe Bryant and others.

Adepts of polyphasic sleep claim that they feel great: they not only get enough sleep, but are also full of physical and creative energy.

However, there are many critics of polyphasic sleep, who argue that sooner or later this jagged schedule will come back to haunt the problems with the cardiovascular system. Opponents of polyphasic sleep believe that you cannot force the body, you need to listen to your biological clock.

In ancient times, people lived according to the laws of nature - everything depended on the change of time of day. After all, there were only two "lamps": during the day - the sun, at night - the moon. This has shaped human circadian rhythms.

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Circadian rhythm
This is the body's internal clock that determines the intensity of various biological processes (thermoregulation, digestion, hormone production, and so on).

The circadian frequency of sleep and wakefulness depends on light. Visual receptors react to the level of illumination and send a signal to the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain. This kicks off the production of two important hormones responsible for sleep and awakening: melatonin and cortisol.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone. Produced in the pineal gland when it gets dark. It reduces pressure and temperature, calms the body and gives it the command “Time to sleep!”. In the morning, the synthesis of melatonin stops. The more light, the more cortisol is released into the blood. This hormone wakes us up, gives vigor and energy for the accomplishments of a new day.

This determines the 24-hour circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness: it gets dark - melatonin gives us the opportunity to rest, the sun rises - cortisol wakes us up. But how much sleep do you need to be healthy and positive? After all, for example, in summer the nights are shorter than in winter, and artificial lighting allows you to adjust the natural schedule.

The vast majority of studies have proven that a healthy adult needs 8 hours of sleep.


This comes from the very nature of sleep. Remember, under normal conditions, we go through five sleep cycles of about 100 minutes each: 100 times 5 divided by 60 is about 8 hours.

The duration of sleep depends on age. The younger the person, the more sleep they need. The National Sleep Foundation, an American non-profit organization with 25 years of experience in the field, makes the following recommendations:

  • from 0 to 3 months - 14-17 hours;
  • from 4 to 11 months - 12-15 hours;
  • from 1 year to 2 years - 11-14 hours;
  • from 3 to 5 years - 10-13 hours;
  • from 6 to 15 years old - 9-11 hours;
  • from 14 to 17 years old - 8-10 hours;
  • from 18 to 64 years old - 7-9 hours;
  • 65 years and over - 7-8 hours.

Sleep duration directly affects physical and mental activity. Maybe, to become the best in your field, it is enough to sleep as much as outstanding scientists, writers and politicians slept? There is no definite answer to this question.

Einstein and Schopenhauer slept 10-12 hours a day. Honore de Balzac, Leo Tolstoy and Charles Darwin - 8 hours each. Sigmund Freud and Vladimir Nabokov adhered to six hours of sleep. Mozart and Margaret Thatcher (5 hours each), Napoleon Bonaparte and Voltaire (4 hours each) rested a little less. Waking record holders are Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, who practiced polyphasic sleep.

There is no universal recipe. Sleep duration is like shoe size. For most, 8 hours is suitable, but for some this is not enough, and for some it is a lot. To understand how much you need to sleep for you, you can experimentally.

Answer three questions:

  1. Do you need an alarm to wake you up?
  2. Do you drink coffee or energy drinks to keep you awake during the day?
  3. Do you fall asleep within the first five minutes?

Yes to the first two questions and no to the last one, you need to increase your sleep.

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Circadian rhythms also affect a person's psychological state. Depending on the peaks of mental activity, people are divided into two chronotypes: morning (larks) and evening (owls).


Early rise and early bed. Waking up at 5-8 am. Lights out usually no later than 10 pm. Most productive and efficient until noon. In the afternoon can not solve problems effectively. By evening, completely exhausted.

Get up late and stay up late. Wake up at 9 am or later. Lights out, usually after midnight. Productivity peaks in the afternoon and evening. Waking up early is unsettling.

This classification was invented in the West in the 1970s. Since then, disputes have not ceased, who is better: larks or owls?

Larks are associated with hard work and success. Who gets up early... The world seems to be made for early birds. Government agencies, clinics, shops, organizations - if you want to be in time everywhere, get up earlier. But, according to scientific research and real life examples, owls are no less efficient and successful. For example, for a trader on the stock exchange or an IT freelancer, the generally accepted work schedule is not so important: they have their own.

Sometimes discussions reach the point of ridiculousness: supposedly owls are more sociable and romantic, while larks are more responsible and friendlier. In fact, such subjective qualities do not depend on the chronotype, but on the character of the individual. In addition, there is a sleep regime, the adherents of which are difficult to unambiguously classify as larks or owls.

The theory of biphasic, or segmented, sleep was developed by the historian, teacher at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Roger Ekirch (Roger Ekirch). The result of his 16-year scientific work, he outlined in the book "When the day ends: a dream in the ages past."

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Ekirch studied hundreds of historical documents and came to the following conclusion.

Until the 19th century, when artificial lighting spread to homes, people spent up to 14 hours a day in the dark. Winter evenings were especially long and tedious. The so-called two-phase sleep has become a protective mechanism here.

People went to bed almost immediately after sunset. Slept for about 4 hours and then woke up and stayed awake for a couple of hours. What they were doing? Differently. The aristocracy and intelligentsia, who could afford candles, read or prayed. In the 15th century, there were even special prayers for the night vigil. But most often they created, because they felt something akin to insight. Simpler and poorer people, hard workers and peasants, indulged in carnal pleasures. This Ekirch explains the high birth rate in these social groups. After midnight activity, people again went to bed and slept until the first roosters.

Modern experiments have shown that biphasic sleep can actually increase your creativity scores. The fact is that people wake up immediately after REM sleep, when the electrical activity of the brain is similar to the state of wakefulness. The memory is cleared of unnecessary information, the mind is bright, the attention is clear, you are full of creative energy.

Biphasic sleep has been practiced by some tribes since ancient times and is becoming more and more popular in pop culture. Despite the fact that the adherents of this system cannot be attributed either to larks (they go to bed early and get up early), or to owls (they work at night).

This is another argument in favor of the claim that we can change our own chronotype. If desired, an owl can become a lark, and vice versa.

Get up at 6 am! Sounds like a judgment. Can you imagine how difficult it will be to take your head off the pillow and how bad it will be during the day? But this will happen only if the duration of sleep is disturbed. Waking up early doesn't mean sleeping less. Waking up early means sticking to a routine. For example, if the rise is scheduled for 7:00, then you need to go to bed no later than 22:00.

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Why do you want to get up early? Find your motivation. The word "should" doesn't work. Just by forcing yourself, you will inevitably break the regime. Perhaps you dream of losing weight and improving your health? Start jogging in the morning or sign up for a pool. Many of them open early so people can swim before work. Not enough time for self-development? Early morning is perfect for this. Everyone is still sleeping, no one will stop you from writing a note on your blog, reading your favorite book, drawing or, say, lying in the bath for a longer time.

  • 1st minute: open your eyes, think about the people you love, smile.
  • 2nd minute: take a few deep breaths to oxygenate the body, stretch sweetly.
  • 3rd minute: lightly massage the back of the head, temples, eyebrows and earlobes, rub palms together to improve blood circulation.
  • 4th minute: Sit down slowly and drink a glass of water stored in the evening - this will restore the body's water balance and activate the metabolism.
  • 5th minute: get out of bed, open the curtains, fill the room with light, say to yourself: “Good morning!”

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Now take a shower, exercise, meditate and have breakfast. In any order. Physical activity and contrast showers will increase adrenaline levels, a nutritious breakfast will finally awaken your metabolism, and meditation will help you tune in to a new day.

A few more life hacks that will help make the morning really good:

  1. Fill your morning with bright colors and cheerful smells. For example, eat oatmeal off an orange plate and hang citrus pomanders around the house.
  2. Take care of everything from the evening. Iron your clothes, assemble your lunch box, make a plan, and so on. Often you do not want to get up, because you know how many boring things are in the morning.
  3. Do not turn on the radio and TV. News and advertising only spoil the mood. Better get ready for work to your favorite energetic tunes.

Having created the right morning rituals, you will soon feel how getting up with the first rays of the sun sets you in a creative mood, and you will notice that you no longer need an alarm clock.

The first mechanical alarm clock was designed by Levi Hutchins in 1787. He called only once a day - at 4 o'clock in the morning. Modern people hate alarm clocks. These soulless squeakers steal our sleep, so in the hope of extending the sweet moments, we press the "Snooze for 10 minutes" button. In fact, we ourselves make the enemy out of the alarm clock.

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As the morning light fills the room, the body stops producing melatonin and starts producing cortisol. The temperature rises, blood pressure, the level of PER protein in the blood. Your body is preparing to wake up. Therefore, observing the regimen, you open your eyes just a few moments before the alarm signal.

The Snooze button breaks this process. You begin to doze off again, falling into the first stage of non-REM sleep. The body is perplexed: melatonin is needed again, but what to do with cortisol ?! As a result, after 5–10 minutes you force yourself to get up, but you feel lethargic and overwhelmed.

“Nonsense! I never wake up before the alarm, you won’t wake me up with a gun!” If so, then you simply do not sleep enough and do not follow the regime.

To make friends with the alarm:

  • do not use the Snooze button;
  • set a pleasant melody that slowly increases in volume;
  • hold the alarm clock away to turn it off after the first 5 minutes of waking up, when you have already got out of bed.

Insomnia (insomnia) is a sleep disorder characterized by inadequate sleep duration and/or poor quality. It occurs in people of all ages. Insomnia can be chronic (lasts from a month or more) and acute (several nights in a row).


  1. Can't sleep at all.
  2. Constantly waking up.
  3. You are angry that you are not sleeping well.
  4. Everything is falling apart, I don't want to communicate with anyone.

Possible causes:

  1. Stress, problems at work and in private life, depression.
  2. Non-compliance with the regime. Deciding to lie around longer on the weekend, you can earn insomnia.
  3. Shift work schedule, and as a result - disruption of circadian rhythms.
  4. Medicines. Investigate if insomnia is a side effect of the drug you are taking.
  5. Violation of sleep hygiene (stale air in the room, too hot, noisy or light).

In addition, insomnia can be a companion of somatic and neurological diseases. Here you need to see a doctor. But in most cases, you can get rid of insomnia on your own.

Most often, our own thoughts prevent us from falling asleep. Not always pleasant.


There are various techniques to stop the round dance in the head. For example, visualization. Imagine yourself dozing on the beach under the lapping of the waves. The more detailed the picture, the faster you will find yourself in the realm of Morpheus. Another technique is auto-training: “My eyelids are getting heavy, I fall asleep…”. You can also run the events of the outgoing day in reverse order or dream up and tell yourself a bedtime story.

Also try focusing on your own breathing: inhale deeply through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds. Thanks to this exercise, you will calm down, and while counting seconds, you will have no time to think about anything else.

Thank you for the passing day. Who or what are you grateful for today? From a positive psychology point of view, expressing gratitude strengthens interpersonal relationships and is highly motivating. Falling asleep with good thoughts, you set yourself up to continue the chain of goodness tomorrow.

Sometimes we can't fall asleep because of some trifle like an uncomfortable posture or a chemical smell from bed linen. But in the science of sleep, there are no trifles. Pay attention to the position of the body in which you usually wake up. Lie down like this the next time you can't sleep. Use special candles or an essential oil lamp to fill your bedroom with the soothing scent of lavender.

But the most important thing is to work out and follow the evening rituals that set the body to sleep.

  1. Keep a diary. There you can write down the events of the passing day, your thoughts and experiences. Give preference to a pen and paper notebook.
  2. Read. Better - a regular book or an e-book with an E-Ink screen. And no horror, action and drama. Choose light, positive pieces.
  3. Planning. By making a plan in the evening, you will not only save time in the morning, but will also be ready for action.
  4. Communication. Evening is a time for family and friends. Do not engage in intellectual work at night looking. And communication is not social networks and chats, but a live conversation.

In addition, proper nutrition, meditation and walking will help normalize sleep.

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Many people think you have to be tired to sleep well. Physical activity really has a positive effect on the quality and duration of sleep. But intense training is recommended to end at least 4-6 hours before bedtime.

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Light aerobic exercise, yoga or just meditation can be done 1-2 hours before bed.

One of the best yoga postures for relaxation is shavasana. Lie on your back. Place your hands along the body with palms up, but do not touch the body. Stretch your legs and spread them a little. Close your eyes. Relax one by one all the muscles of the body, starting with the toes. Gradually move up: buttocks, lower back, abdomen, back, chest, and so on. Finish relaxing with the muscles of the neck, face and eyes. Usually by this point the person is disconnected.

But the best option for evening physical activity is a walk. You will enrich the body with oxygen, literally step over the worries and anxieties of the day and, perhaps, work up an appetite.

Eating at night is harmful. But going to bed when your stomach is growling with hunger is wrong. The last meal should be 2-3 hours before bedtime. At the same time, you need to eat foods that are conducive to relaxation.

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Specifically, rich foods:

  • melatonin - sleep hormone;
  • tryptophan, an amino acid from which melatonin can be synthesized;
  • calcium, which promotes the absorption of tryptophan;
  • magnesium - a natural muscle relaxant that helps to relax;
  • a protein that lowers the acidity of the stomach and causes drowsiness.
  1. Cherry juice or fresh cherries. This berry contains a lot of melatonin, and contains the hormone itself, and not its predecessor. Regular consumption of cherry juice significantly increases the duration of sleep.
  2. Bananas. They are rich in magnesium and also contain tryptophan.
  3. Yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. Dairy products are high in calcium and protein.
  4. Turkey, legumes, eggs. These are low calorie, nutritious foods that help lower stomach pH and induce sleepiness through tryptophan.
  5. Spinach and other dark greens, pumpkin seeds, almonds. Rich in magnesium to help relax muscles and help you fall asleep.

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Fatty foods, coffee and caffeinated foods, and alcohol should not be consumed before bed. The first can cause indigestion and adversely affect the figure. Coffee, black tea, energy drinks and other caffeinated products will keep you awake for a long time. They should be discarded at least 3 hours before bedtime. The last cup of espresso must be drunk no later than 14:00. At night, it is better to drink herbal teas with chamomile, oregano, lemon balm or hawthorn. They will help you calm down and relax.

Alcohol is especially insidious. It helps to switch off, but it has a bad effect on the REM phase, and due to dehydration and the breakdown of ethanol, we wake up without having time to rest. So a jar of beer or a glass of wine before bed is not the best sleeping pill.

It is better to drink a mug of warm milk with honey. Milk contains tryptophan, protein and calcium. This drink has a warming and lulling effect. Just like in childhood.

Sometimes the cause of insomnia lies not in us, but in our partner, who lies next to us and snores. Do not rush to hit him with a pillow - help him solve this problem. Snoring is the process of breathing during sleep, in which a person makes a characteristic rattling sound. According to statistics, 45% of adults snore in their sleep at varying intervals.


Snoring can be a sign of some diseases (apnea, obesity, hypertension, and others), but the most common cause of snoring is weakened throat muscles, clogged nasal passages, or palatal vibration.

Throat muscles lose tone with age. But they can be strengthened with some simple exercises.

  1. Close your mouth and close your lips as tightly as possible for 30 seconds.
  2. Open your mouth, move your lower jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Then repeat the same on the other side.
  3. Stick out your tongue as far as possible, then relax. Repeat 10 times. Stick your tongue out again and try to touch your chin and then your nose. Repeat 10 times.

Alcohol, coffee and sedatives relax the throat muscles. And smoking blocks the airways, causing irritation of the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. Therefore, sometimes, to get rid of snoring, it is enough to give up bad habits.

And the simplest thing: change your posture. During sleep on the back, the muscles of the lower palate relax, the tongue sinks, and pressure on the airways appears. Therefore, sleep on your side or stomach, raise the pillow higher or use a special orthopedic pillow.

Churchill never missed an afternoon nap, even during the war. The politician believed that an afternoon nap, like nothing else, increases efficiency. And he was right. Daytime naps are really helpful. Especially if you don't get enough sleep at night.


Winston Churchill wrote: “You must sleep between lunch and dinner, and no half measures, never! Take off your clothes and get into bed. Don't think that you will do less work because you are sleeping during the day. This is a stupid opinion of people who have no imagination. On the contrary, you will be able to do more, because you get two days in one - well, at least one and a half.

  1. Short nap improves memory and other cognitive functions. It helps to transfer accumulated information from short-term to long-term memory.
  2. Such a dream stimulates creativity and enhances the ability to learn.
  3. It helps to resist stress and improves mood.
  • 10-20 minutes. This is the ideal nap time. You will pass the first two stages of slow wave sleep and wake up easily, having time to rest your mind and body.
  • 30 minutes. After half an hour of daytime sleep, a state of inertia similar to a hangover may occur. It will continue for another 30 minutes.
  • 60 minutes. After such a smoke break, it is easy to remember facts, faces and numbers. But for a while you will act by inertia.
  • 90 minutes. A complete sleep cycle has been completed. It is easy to wake up, you feel a surge of strength.

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When, how and where to take a nap

The best time for a siesta is from 13:00 to 16:00. But specific hours depend on your routine and biorhythm. For example, if you wake up at 10:00, you are unlikely to want to take a nap in just 3 hours.

Daytime sleep takes some getting used to. Practice it for several days at the same time. Try to sleep the same number of minutes. Consider the time it takes to fall asleep. If you switch off in 10 minutes, then for a full 20-minute daytime sleep, you need to start the alarm clock half an hour ahead.

You can take a nap anywhere: in the car, at the table, on the couch. The sleep is short, which means that you almost do not risk getting up with back or neck pain. Ideally, find a quiet place with dim lights. If the office does not have this, use a sleep mask and earplugs.

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  1. Stick to the routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time according to your internal biological clock. Use special tracker applications to study the features of your sleep.
  2. Create a comfortable sleep environment. The optimum temperature in the bedroom is 18-21 ºС. Ventilate the room at night. Shade windows so that the light of outdoor advertising, street lamps and passing cars does not interfere with you. If you sleep more than one, discuss with your partner what factors affect your and his sleep, and create comfortable conditions for both.
  3. Buy a comfortable mattress, pillow and sleepwear. Change bedding as often as possible. Do not let pets in bed.
  4. Walk and meditate before going to bed.
  5. Don't lie down on an empty stomach, but don't overeat either. No coffee or alcohol at night.
  6. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Do not watch TV in bed, do not use a laptop, tablet and smartphone. The light from the screens suppresses the production of melatonin - the quality of sleep decreases.
  7. Avoid digital noise at least 2-3 hours before bed. Instead of scrolling through social media feeds, watching emails and watching videos, go about your evening rituals.
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