Sleep Cycle and Stages

Sleep Cycle

During the night, sleeping follows a predictable pattern, moving back and forth between deep sleep and REM sleep. Together, REM and non-REM sleep stages form a complete sleep cycle. Each cycle typically lasts about 90 minutes and repeats four to six times over the course of a night.


Non-REM sleep

First stage also known as "transitional sleep" – it lasts for about five minutes. Your eyes move slowly under the eyelids, muscle activity slows down, and you are easily awakened.

Second stage also known as "light sleep" – This is the first stage of true sleep, lasting from 10 to 25 minutes. Your eye movement stops, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.

Third stage also known as "deep sleep" – in this stage it's difficult to awaken, and if you forcibly wake up, you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes. In this deepest stage of sleep, your brain waves are extremely slow. Blood flow is directed away from your brain and towards your muscles, restoring physical energy.


REM sleep

REM sleep (this is where dreams occur) – time to get there is approximately 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep. Your eyes move rapidly, your breathing shallows, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. During this stage, your arm and leg muscles are paralysed.

Sleep length impact on life span
"Previous sleep studies have indicated that both short and long-duration sleep had higher mortality rates. However, none of those studies were large enough to distinguish the difference between 7 and 8 hours a night, until now."
sleep hours graph for men
sleep hours graph for women
The figures above indicate hours of sleep for men (left) and women (right). The hazard ratio, the top bar graph, indicates the mortality risk while the bottom graph shows the percentage of subjects associated with the reported number of hours sleep. See Source Here
Average Sleep Needs by Age

These values are the average recommended hours of sleep required for your age and health group...

# Age Group Recommended Sleep Hours
1newborn to 2 months old12 - 18 hours
23 months to 1 year old14 - 15 hours
31 to 3 years old12 - 14 hours
43 to 5 years old11 - 13 hours
55 to 12 years old10 - 11 hours
612 to 18 years old8.5 - 10 hours
7Adults (18+)7.5 - 9 hours

Notes

Pregnant women often experience an increased need for sleep.
Older adults need the same amount of sleep as their young-adult counterparts but, due to a tendency to wake more frequently at night, may compensate with short naps during the day.
Sleep-deprived individuals will need to sleep extra hours until they recover.

Tips and tricks to fall asleep and have a better night sleep

Get comfortable
In order to fall asleep fast you need to help your body. When talking about sleep comfort we're actually referring to ambient temperature (between 60.8 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 - 20 degrees Celsius - anything outside that leads do sleep discomfort), body position (use the most comfortable position that you know works for you - avoid tall pillows as they may strain your neck ), and personal clothing (cotton pyjamas, or nothing all all)
Adjust the lights to promote sleep creep
Optimally you'd sleep in total darkness, however since that is not always the case, try to turn away from any light sources (at least until you fall asleep), employ the usage of a sleep mask, and place night lights in the hallway if light is an element that brings you peace before falling asleep.
Turn down the ambient noise for little to no interference
It's best to use earplugs - period. Try replacing intermittent noises with a constant "silent" one (like a fan); create a low-volume smooth music playlist and listen to it as the "silent" noise; listen to natural ambient low frequency noises like raindrops, running water, waterfalls, wind.
Read a book by a soft light or watch a documentary
Focus your mind on only this one thing.
Breathing technique
6 breaths per minute in the following order: breath deep x 4, hold breath x 2, release deep breath pushing it all the way. Then repeat until you go to sleep.
Play a casual semi-boring game to speed up the sleep process
Solitaire, crossword puzzle or sudoku - nothing to engaging should do.
Sleep with a pillow or folded blanket between your legs
It helps the body reduce stress/pain and helps with the body's natural layout position, hence enhancing comfort and leading to a better sleep.
Mediate
Drink some "calming effect" herbal teas
Watch what you eat at night
Avoid anything with high sugar content; eat bananas, avocado, peanuts, almonds, figs, and milk-based drinks, peanuts with skins, whole almonds (for more fiber), walnuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, pistachios, red peanuts with skins;
Avoid large portions of food before bedtime
3 hours before bedtime should accommodate a tranquil sleep.
Don't go to sleep feeling hungry
Reduce nicotine, sugar, caffeine and alcohol
Consume some tea before going to sleep
Chamomile and green tea promote sleep
Use supplements
Melatonin pills, chlorpheniramine , valerian (highly relaxant herb), calcium + magnesium and D3 vitamins (B-vitamins, Omega3)
No exercise in the 3 hours leading to you going to bed
Avoid naps during the day time
Warm bath
Warm bath before bath-time goes a long way, although it's not always possible.
Sleeping routine
Try to establish a sleeping routine and stick to it in order to help your body adjust and react to it.
Use aromatherapy
Use aromatherapy in conjunction with the bath:lemon balm oil, chamomile oil, lavender oil, and marjoram
Remove all electronic devices from your bedroom
Always keep you bed made and the sheets fresh

Tips and tricks to wake up in the morning

Go to bed early
Six to eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep makes all the difference when getting up early and staying focused through the day.
Sleep with the curtains half-open
Get a decent amount of shut-eye
See average sleep needs by age
Place your alarm clock away from your bed
Avoid snoozing your alarm clock. As soon as your alarm goes off, get out of bed and start on your day.
Avoid eating large meals before bedtime
Drink water before bedtime
1-2 glasses of water just before going to bed to keep your body hydrated through the night and avoid morning sluggishness.
Take a cool shower
If you are drowsy in the morning, take a cool shower to raise your blood pressure and wake up your body.
Respect a sleep schedule
Fall asleep and wake up at the same time day in and day out. This requires discipline.
Exercise in the morning
Do physical exercises that stimulate your body. Push-ups, jumping jacks, and lunges are great for ridding morning fatigue.
Wash with cold water
When you wake up, go straight to the bathroom and wash your eyes and face with cold water.
Power of suggestion
Use the power of suggestion and tell yourself "I'm going to wake up early" - this tricks your brain into scheduling your biological clock and you just might find yourself getting up 15 minutes earlier than you've set your alarm clock, without any effort.

Sleep-Calculator.com - 2014