Stages of Sleep: REM Sleep and Slow Sleep | Good Sleep Cycles


It is known that in the daily routine of a person, great importance is attached to evening rest. Many have even heard of concepts such as REM and NREM sleep, but not everyone pays due attention to them. In order for your nightly recovery to be productive and give you the energy to fulfill your plans for the day, you need to understand this process. Is full recovery possible without prolonged immersion in the kingdom of Morpheus? Or can you wake up vigorous in a couple of hours? How long does it take to rest, how to fall asleep and wake up correctly?



Last Updated: October 3, 2022 (A few hours ago…)

Stages of Sleep: REM Sleep and Slow Sleep | Good Sleep Cycles




What is REM sleep

First of all, it is important to understand what is the difference between slow and REM sleep.

The rest stage, during which the human brain processes the information received during the day, is called fast.

Some studies have shown that brain activity while awake is no different from activity during a short rest. The same research suggests that it forms memories and reinforces acquired skills.


The rapid resting phase is distinguished by external signs, which include interrupted breathing and movement of the eyeballs, and arms can also move. It is short and takes no more than 25% of the entire night’s rest. The body enters the fast phase in an hour and a half after falling asleep.


Stages of Sleep: REM Sleep and Slow Sleep | Good Sleep Cycles


What Happens During REM Sleep

During this period, brain activity increases. During this stage of rest, the person is dreaming. This was proven in 1953 by researchers from the University of Chicago – Nathaniel Clayton and Eugene Aserinsky. Studies have shown that the fast phase repeats up to five times per night, it is noteworthy that each subsequent phase increases, while the depth, on the contrary, decreases.


During this time, the brain filters what has happened during the day, unnecessary, secondary information is removed from the memory, and what is really necessary, the brain, on the contrary, carefully remembers . In addition, at this moment the body prepares for awakening: neurohumoral processes are activated.


REM sleep phase

During the fast phase, the body temperature rises slightly, the activity of the cardiovascular system becomes more active, the process of information exchange between the conscious and the subconscious is launched: a person sees dreams that, unlike those seen in a slow cycle, he can remember. This is the easiest time to wake up.


Stages of Sleep: REM Sleep and Slow Sleep | Good Sleep Cycles



Why is slow sleep needed

Let’s figure out how REM sleep differs from slow sleep.

It is needed, first of all, so that we can fully rest: during this period, the pressure in the vessels begins to decrease, the process of restoring the immune system starts.

The body actively synthesizes amino acids – the growth period begins, which is why fans of strength sports attach such great importance to this part of the daily routine. Muscles begin to grow during relaxation (relaxation), which is why you are unlikely to meet a bodybuilder who sleeps less than eight hours. The question may arise, which sleep is better: fast or slow? In fact, both stages are essential for a normal, healthy and fulfilling life. Experiments have shown that animals that are deprived of a short sleep phase lived much less than fully resting brethren.


Stage of slow sleep

Considering the ratio of slow and REM sleep, scientists found that 80% of nighttime recovery occurs in the first phase, and fast, respectively, – 20%. Sometimes this proportion may differ slightly, but on average, out of 8 hours of relaxation, 6 hours we are in a slow stage. The exception is newborn babies: they have this proportion expressed in a 50/50 ratio. Given the importance of this phase and its duration, it is advisable to consider in detail the constituent parts of which it consists. There are three stages of slow sleep: falling asleep, shallow and deep sleep.



The first stage is falling asleep

This is the shortest part of the night’s recovery and ranges from 5 to 10 minutes. During this period, a person is in an intermediate state: he is not sleeping yet, but is no longer awake. At this stage, you can feel the “subtle world”, hear and see what we do not notice in the usual state.


Stage two – shallow sleep

The next stage, which is slightly longer, lasts about 20 minutes. The body continues to relax, the rate of breathing decreases, and the heart also slows down. A person plunges into the world of dreams, but any external stimulus can return him to a state of wakefulness. At this stage, there may be a sensation of falling – a condition that is caused by the contraction of relaxed muscles. Surely you yourself experienced this feeling.



Stage Three – Deep Sleep

This stage is the longest, lasting about 45 minutes. A person is completely immersed in a state of rest, and it becomes very difficult to wake him up. Scientists believe that at this time we may see nightmares, but this has not yet been proven. If a person wakes up at this stage, he cannot remember what he saw.

As we already know, there is no good or bad stage – slow and REM sleep should be normal. The slow phase should take up at least 75% of the night’s rest, and the fast phase should take up at least 25%.


Stages of Sleep: REM Sleep and Slow Sleep | Good Sleep Cycles



How to make slow-wave sleep longer

If you do not feel rested when you wake up in the morning, then you are most likely missing the longest relaxation phase. The following tips will help to increase its duration and quality:

  • Change your lifestyle: move more, exercise, walk. Give up junk food and bad habits. Remember to ventilate your bedroom.
  • Avoid bright light sources. There should be no TV in the bedroom; it is also better to move the laptop and tablet away from the bed. For 1.5 hours before going to bed, give up gadgets and devices, it is better to read a book.
  • Go to bed at the same time, regardless of whether it is a day off or a weekday. Follow your daily routine.
  • Do not eat at least 2 hours before going to rest.
  • Stop being nervous. Practice meditation and yoga to calm your mind and senses.
  • Take a hot bath or shower, if desired, add a couple of drops of aromatic oils to the bath to relax and prepare the body and mind for relaxation.



How to sleep and wake up properly

Today it is often said that if REM sleep prevails over slow sleep, then apathy and irritability come to a person’s life. If a similar situation persists over time, more serious mental disorders may appear.

The first thing to remember is that an adult should sleep from 6 to 8 hours.

We’ve covered both phases of overnight recovery for a reason. To wake up refreshed, you need to wake up between these phases. As we know, each of them lasts 1.5 hours, so it is recommended to set the alarm for a multiple of 1.5 hours, not forgetting to add 10-20 minutes to the stage of falling asleep.


It is also better to go to bed between 10 and 11 pm . After eleven in the evening, hormone production begins: if you go to bed later, then we miss the peak of hormone production, and recovery becomes less effective.

It is not necessary to “fill up” on weekends . An overly prolonged pursuit of dreams (10 hours or more) leads to increased blood pressure, headaches and swelling. In addition, you will disrupt biorhythms and your usual daily routine. You may remember how hard it can be to get back on track after a vacation.

Full rest will be impossible without a walk, even 10-15 minutes will facilitate the process of falling asleep.

Today, among young people, theories are popular that you can sleep 3-4 hours, as did Benjamin Franklin or Caesar. You should not follow the example of the mighty of this world, remember, you must adhere to the correct proportion in this important process. If possible, give up daytime rest: this confuses the daily routine, which will make it harder to fall asleep in the evening.

Summing up, I would like to hope that the presented material will help you to reconsider your attitude towards yourself and your evening rest. Do not neglect them for the sake of evening movie screenings or “hanging” on social networks .



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