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The Three Stages Of Sleep And Why They Matter

By Leeann Rybakov

When we think of sleep, the focus is usually on the quantity. I frequently hear from my clients that they sleep for seven to eight hours per night, but wake up feeling groggy and not rested. That’s most likely because even though they are nailing the recommended quantity of sleep, they may not be getting good quality sleep.

So what does good quality sleep mean? Ultimately it is based on the amount of time we are spending in each of the four sleep stages. The stages I am referring to are: Onset, Deep and REM. 

The Sleep Onset: It is important how long it takes for you to fall asleep: Ideally falling asleep shouldn’t take any more than 15-20 minutes. Falling asleep immediately (less than 5 minutes) could be a sign that you are not getting enough sleep for your needs from the nights before.

The Deep Sleep stage: this is the most restorative and rejuvenating sleep stage. This is where your body repairs and rejuvenates itself.  On average adults spend 15-20% (about 1.5hrs) of their total sleep time in deep sleep.  How do you know if you are getting into that deep sleep? Do you dream at night? That’s deep sleep, even if you do not remember the dream.

The REM stage: During REM is when memory consolidation happens. Your encounters, emotions are moved from the front to the back for storage. If you are not clearing out the front, you will have less space to learn something new the next day, hence why this stage is associated with learning and creativity. REM makes up for 5-50%% of your total sleep time. On average it’s 20-20% (1.5-2hrs).

If we are falling asleep too fast, it is likely a sign of fatigue. Severe fatigue does not allow our bodies to function properly. 

If we’re not spending enough time in deep sleep, you are not rejuvenating and repairing. This causes toxin build up. Toxin build up is a stress on the body. Stress = cortisol. Too much cortisol=weight gain. 

If we are not getting enough REM sleep, it will be super hard for you to learn something new the next day. You can go about your day doing what comes naturally, like making coffee. When you try to read something new however, you may find yourself in a bit of brain fog. 

If you read last week’s article, you may now know that poor quality sleep can lead to weight gain. Curious what is the quality of your sleep? Schedule a Free Sleep Quality Assessment.

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