Sleep: The Different Stages of Sleep

Sleep: The Different Stages of Sleep

By Crystal Tsui

Have you ever wondered why at certain times of the night you tend to be more alert and other times you dream, unaware of your surroundings? That’s because there are different stages of sleep, more specifically five stages.

  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
  • REM (rapid eye movement)

How do we determine what stage is what? Sleep researchers use an electroencephalogram (EEG), is a method used to monitor and record electric cortical brain activity, and other instruments to help determine the stages.

In Stage 1, researchers found that this cycle is the lightest sleep. On the EEG, the frequency is slower than when we are awake. Physically, our muscles relax and our breathing occurs at a regular rate.

In Stage 2, we are less likely to be awakened. Our heart rate and temperature decreases as our body is preparing to go into a deep sleep.

In Stage 3 and 4, we begin our deep sleep. It’s harder to be awakened because at this point our body becomes less responsive to outside stimuli. In these stages, our body starts to restore itself, stimulate growth and development, boosts immune function, and builds energy for the next day.

In REM, dreaming occurs, our eyes quickly jerk in different directions, heart rate and blood pressure increase, and our breathing become fast and shallow. This stage generally lasts up to an hour and begins about 90 mins after you initially fall asleep. This is an important stage because our brain starts to consolidate all the information we have learned during the day into our long-term memory.

In children, one cycle can last up to 50-60 mins and increases to 1-1.5 hours in adults. It is advised:

  • Babies (0 months – 11 months) get 14-18 hours
  • Toddlers (1-5 yrs) get 12-13 hours
  • Children (6-10 yrs) get 8.5- 11 hours
  • Pre-teens and teenagers (11-17) get 8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-65+) get 7-9 hours of sleep

If you or someone you know has trouble sleeping, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s