The sleep cycle has four different stages and will last up to 120 minutes. Even though most people agree that it is four stages, some people believe that there is a fifth stage but they consider the fifth stage as the first few minutes when you fall asleep, but we do not consider this a separate cycle but just a transition.
The four stages that we are going to look at repeat themselves throughout the night. Dreams can happen in any of these four stages, but they are most memorable during the REM sleep. Most of the cycles will repeat themselves around five times a night but it depends on who is sleeping and how well they sleep. It is known that the cycle can even repeat up to seven times if someone sleeps deeply.
Because the sleep cycle repeats over and over again, it is why people can have many dreams in one night. Most of the time though, people only remember the last dreams that they have right before they wake up. One important thing to note though is just because you don’t remember a dream does not mean that you are not dreaming. Everyone dreams.
Stages of Sleeping
There are different sleep changes that have to work with the activity of the brain.
- Stage 1
This is the sleep stage where you begin to have light sleep. This is considered Non-Rapid eye movement sleep or NREM. When your muscles begin to relax, your temperature gets lower and your heart rate will slow down. Your body is preparing you to go into a deep and relaxed sleep.
- Stage 2
NREM is the second stage of sleeping and this is when your body temperature continues to go down and your muscles before more relaxed. Your immune system starts to repair any damage to your body and your muscles are fixed. The endocrine glands and the hormones will go back to normal and blood is sent to the muscles. You are completely asleep in this stage.
- Stage 3
You are still in NREM sleep, but your sleep is deeper and your levels such as your metabolic levels become very slow.
- Stage 4
This is the stage of sleep where you go into REM sleep. This is when your eyes begin to move back and forth and is part of your sleep that happens around 100 minutes after you begin to sleep.
During this time, your blood pressure will increase, and your heart rate will get faster. You will have more brain activity and your muscles will stop moving.
This is the time of sleep where your emotions are tuned in and is part of the sleep that gives you the most restoration. Most of the dreams that you have will happen in this stage and if you wake up during this stage, you will most likely remember your dreams.
The sleep cycles will repeat themselves over and over again while you sleep. When it repeats, your body will spend less time in stages 1, 2 and 3 and more time in stage 4. This will happen faster, and you will get to stage 4 faster each time that the cycle repeats itself.