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Snoring & Its Impact on the Sleep Cycle Stages

Sleep Cycle Stages and the effect on Snoring

How well do you sleep?  Do you “sleep like a baby” and wake feeling refreshed – or do you toss and turn and wake feeling groggy, irritable, and need a mid-afternoon nap? 

If you fall into the latter group, interrupted sleep cycles may be the culprit.

We have talked in past articles about the importance of getting enough sleep, but there is more to a good night’s sleep than a specific number of hours of slumber…

We all have natural sleep cycles, which proceed through certain stages of sleep. Each of these sleep cycle stages plays a very important part in the function and repair processes of the body and mind. High-quality, refreshing, and restorative sleep depends upon a smooth transition between and through these cycles.

The Sleep Cycle Stages Explained

Your internal body clock drives the sleep cycle. It occurs in stages of regularly occurring brain wave patterns, and a normal, healthy sleeper will cycle through these stages in order. Each cycle will be completed before you wake up. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine defines four stages of sleep per cycle and one cycle lasts between seventy and one hundred and twenty minutes (averaging ninety). Most adults transition through four to six sleep cycles over a seven-to-nine-hour night of sleep. 

The time we spend in each stage of the sleep cycle alters as the night progresses and the first sleep cycle is usually the shortest.

Each sleep stage has its unique importance and characteristics.  You must complete these healthy, natural sleep cycles without waking prematurely. Failure to do so can impact your mood, energy levels, concentration, and much more.

Sleep Cycle Stages 

Stage 1 = very light sleep. It usually lasts less than ten minutes. During this stage, the body and mind relax, and you begin to doze off. The brain moves from wakeful, alert Beta waves into relaxed Alpha waves from which it is very easy to drift and be woken up. A short power nap of just ten minutes or so puts you only into this stage and it can be quite refreshing.  

Stage 2 = light sleep. The body and mind transition from light dozing to actual sleep with Alpha waves transitioning to slower Theta waves. Lasting between ten and sixty minutes, muscle activity and eye movements decrease as the mind prepares for deep sleep. Short bursts of brainwave activity occur and are important for sensory processing and the consolidation of long-term memories. For most adults, half of our total sleeping time is typically spent in this physically and mentally restorative stage.

Stage 3 = deep sleep. This lasts between twenty and forty minutes and is the most difficult to be woken from due to the slowest Delta brain waves. This sleep stage is all about physical and mental rejuvenation, repair, and healing. The body is completely still and relaxed; body temperature, breathing rate, and blood pressure all lower significantly. Hormones are produced, and processes including immune system regulation and muscle repair occur here.

Stage 3 sleep is the longest during the first half of the night. Waking prematurely from, or not spending enough time in, stage 3 sleep causes daytime tiredness and grogginess. This is why taking a daytime nap can sometimes make you feel worse, not better.

Stage 4 = REM (rapid eye movement or “dreaming” sleep). Though still in its Delta state, the brain experiences neurological responses similar to being awake. It is critical for cognitive function, creativity, learning, processing, consolidating, and storing information in long-term memory. The body is paralysed in this stage, but breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure increase. 

For adults, a quarter of our total sleeping time is REM sleep, with longer spent in REM later in the night.  Babies and small children spend much more time in REM than elderly people do. 

Did you know? Dreaming can occur during any stage of sleep, Stage 4 is when it is more common and the dreams are more vivid. 

Uninterrupted, a sleeper will usually cycle from REM back into Stage 1 very briefly before continuing with the next sleep cycle.

Which Sleep Cycle Stages are Most Important for Quality Sleep?

Every sleep stage is important and healthy sleep means cycling smoothly through each. 

Researchers currently believe that Stage 3 sleep is the most important for growth and recovery – boosting the immune system and supporting memory, thinking, learning, and creativity.

How are Sleep Cycles Disrupted?

  • Age impacts sleep cycles – small babies spend half their sleeping time in Stage 4 sleep, while seniors spend the shortest amount of time in REM.

  • Caffeine can make it harder to fall asleep and get enough deep sleep, especially during the first half of the night.

  • Alcohol consumption can speed up falling asleep initially but causes disrupted sleep several hours later.

  • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea can both interrupt sleep many times a night. 

Snoring & Sleep Cycle Stages 

In Stage 2 sleep the muscles of the mouth and neck relax enough to allow the tongue to fall back into the throat. This is the most common cause of snoring. Snoring then disrupts sleep, rousing snorers from Stage 2 sleep and inhibiting the deeply restorative Stage 3 sleep. Those who severely snore or have sleep apnoea may spend little or no time in Stage 3 or REM sleep at all. This is a major issue for their ongoing health, safety, and well-being.

You need to know how to reduce snoring and make effective lifestyle changes to maintain healthy sleep cycles and minimise the impact of poor-quality sleep.

Better Sleep Cycles with ApneaRx

If you snore or suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea, one of the best ways you could improve your sleep cycle and support healthy sleep stages is to use ApneaRx It is a top-quality anti-snoring device worn in the mouth to gently reposition the lower jaw slightly forward while you sleep. It helps to open the airways and reduces the symptoms associated with sleep apnea and snoring.

Understand more about ApneaRx and buy ApneaRx today.