Understanding the Different Stages of Sleep

In order to determine the cause of insomnia, doctors use a polysomnogram, a test that records several physiological factors during sleep. This test measures eye movements, EEG, and muscle movements. It also monitors breathing, movement, and pulse oximetry. Research has shown that deep sleep is essential for optimal emotional and social functioning, and helps prevent a range of health problems. This test is performed overnight and requires up to six hours of monitoring.


The lightest phase of sleep occurs when 50% of the alpha waves are replaced by low-amplitude mixed-frequency activity. Strict muscle tone is present and breathing is regular. This stage of sleep usually lasts from one to five minutes and accounts for about 5% of the sleep cycle. During the early stages of the night, the brain begins to change, and its activity is regulated by the circadian rhythm. This is a vital stage of sleep, and it is important to understand the different levels of it to determine how well you rest.

A good amount of research has been done on the biological mechanisms of sleep. In addition to regulating energy, metabolism, and thermoregulation, sleep boosts the immune system, detoxification, and brain maturation and synaptic optimization. Scientists have determined that humans and birds have a unique sleeping pattern that evolved from the way they eat and move. The mechanisms that regulate these processes include neurotransmitters, circadian rhythms, and genes. The length and frequency of sleep differs among genders.

Researchers have found that our sleep is made up of two stages: rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM). We cycle through these phases four to six times throughout the night, with fewer NREM phases as the night progresses. And as with all sleeping stages, the duration of each stage varies according to age and sex. This is a normal part of the sleep cycle.

During REM sleep, 50% of the alpha waves are replaced by low-amplitude mixed-frequency activity. We maintain muscle tone in skeletal muscle, and breathe normally. This type of sleep lasts from one to five minutes, making up approximately 5% of the entire sleep cycle. If you’re a light sleeper, try to make sure that your delta wave is longer than the NREM stage. When it’s time for your next NREM sleep, your body and brain will both be in a deep state.

If you have insomnia, you need to get enough sleep to maintain your daily routines. Your body is constantly changing. It changes from one stage to the next in a matter of seconds. REM is a state of deep sleep, while NREM is a state of waking. It is the most common type of sleep in humans. However, a REM stage lasts longer than a NREM stage. The lightest phase lasts from one to five minutes.