Sleep is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Sleep deprivation or chronic poor sleep quality can cause symptoms like depression, anxiety, memory loss, reduced concentration, and much more.
But what does "good quality sleep" mean?
Your brain needs to go through the 5 sleep cycle stages to reap the full range of benefits.
Each sleep cycle stage has its own job to do for cementing memories, regulating brain chemistry, and supporting physical health.
Here's what all the sleep cycle stages do and why they're so important.
The first four stages are also known as "nonREM" because they don't involve rapid eye movement. You usually go through multiple sleep cycles throughout the night.
During this stage, you haven't completely fallen asleep yet. Instead, you drift in and out of light sleep: your eyes slightly move and your muscles start to relax.
It's easy to wake up at this point and you may experience sudden jerks. This stage usually lasts between 1 and 10 minutes.
As your body prepares for deep sleep, your temperature and heart rate slow down. Your eyes also stop moving and your brain waves become very long and slow with occasional rapid waves.
It's harder to wake you up during this stage which makes up about 45% of your total sleep time.
Your brain activity includes extremely slow waves (delta waves) with sudden rapid waves laced in.
Deep sleep is when you're most likely to experience bedwetting, tremors, night terrors, sleepwalking, or other sleep-related conditions.
This first stage of deep sleep begins about 35-45 minutes after you've fallen asleep. If you wake up during this stage, you'll feel extremely disorientated.
This stage is very similar to the stage above except the brain waves differ a little. Your brain mostly produces the slow and long delta waves without any of the sudden rapid ones.
Your eyes move side-to-side and your brain mimics waking activity – this is when you experience powerful dreams!
Heart rate and breathing may not be consistent during REM. You may also experience sleepwalking, bedwetting, or other issues at this point.
REM stages get longer as your night progresses: the final REM stage may last nearly an hour.
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