What is sleep? A look into what happens during the sleep cycle.

Posted by Jennifer Wilson on July 08, 2013 1 Comment

Everyone sleeps. Whether during the day, night, or every few hours, every human being must get sleep to survive. Most of us are aware of the basics of sleep. You go to bed, close your eyes and mysteriously slip into an altered state of consciousness. A period of time later, you wake up, usually with more energy than when you went to sleep, and continue your daily activities. You know that you might dream, snore, talk and even walk during your sleep, but ever wonder what exactly is happening to your mind and body while you're asleep?

Scientists have been trying to figure out why we need sleep and how sleep works for a long time. Though new findings on the full effects of sleep are continually uncovered, scientific documentation to date has provided enough information to understand the basics of what happens to the mind and body during sleep. The electroncephalogram, EEG for short, is an instrument that allows scientists to measure brain activity. In the 1950‘s, this tool led to the discovery of REM sleep, one of the 2 types of sleep characterized by Rapid Eye Movement. The other type of sleep,Non-REM sleep, lacks rapid eye movement and constitutes the majority of sleep (about 75% of the total sleep duration). Further EEG studies have also demonstrated that during sleep the brain experiences progressively varied wave patterns, leading experts to divide sleep into 5 stages. Here is a quick description of what happens during each stage:


Stage 1

  • Transition between wakefulness and sleep / beginning of sleep cycle
  • Produces very slow waves called theta waves.
  • Short 5 to 10 minute duration
  • Lightest sleep stage / can be woken up easily
  • Person may experience sensation of falling and jerk into wakefullness, called a hypnotic jerk
  • Might feel like “you’re not really asleep”
  • Only 5% of Non-REM sleep occurs during the first stage

Stage 2

  • Marks the official onset of sleep
  • Lasts about 20 minutes
  • No eye movement, breathing and heart rate remain regular
  • Body temperature begins to drop
  • Brain produces sleep spindles - rapid, rhythmic wave bursts
  • 45% of non-REM sleep occurs in stage 2

Stages 3

  • Transitional stage between light and deep sleep
  • Brain begins to produce very deep, slow waves called delta waves
  • Breathing slows down, muscles become relaxed
  • Blood pressure drops
  • Rest of non-REM sleep is split between stage 3 and 4

Stage 4

  • Deepest sleep
  • Produces only delta waves
  • Lasts about 30 minutes
  • Stage during which sleep walking or bed wetting may occur
  • Tissue repair and muscle growth occurs
  • The most restorative stage of sleep

Stage 5

  • Breathing rate increases
  • Though brain activity increases, voluntary muscles are immobile
  • Characterized by rapid eye movement / REM sleep
  • Most dreaming occurs during this stage 


Sleep ArchitectureSurprisingly, these 5 stages of sleep don't occur in sequence. Sleep always begins during stage 1 and soon transitions to stages 2, 3 & 4. After stage 4, however, stages 2 & 3 are repeated before stage 5 is reached. After the REM stage, the cycle begins again with stage 2 and is repeated up to six times a night. REM sleep occurs approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep, and is experienced again about every 90 minutes throughout the night. This repetitive stage cycling pattern is known as "Sleep Architecture", because when the sleep stages are charted over the course of the night, the image resembles a city skyline.

Studies show that good quality sleep architecture is fundamental to health and well being. When your body spends the necessary amount of time in each stage of sleep and is able to properly transition from stage to stage, you get optimal rest and the next day, feel your best. Irregular sleep cycles and general sleep architecture can be improved and enhanced by taking a natural sleep vitamin, such as Zeez. For more information on how Zeez works click “Tour” or visit ZeezSleep.com.


The Zeez Team

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Posted by Hanaclaire on November 20, 2013

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