In this article, I would like to give you a brief description of the Sleep Cycle, which we usually repeat every night. And in this article; why we should (should) have ‘basically’ but 4 a 5 hours of sleep.
Sleep cycle operation
In fact, we do not go through 1 cycle, but 5 cycles! In an average night we walk through 4 to 5 sleep cycles, each sleep cycle takes about 90 to 120 minutes. All cycles have more or less the same structure and follow each other.
Each sleep cycle also consists of 5 phases, which are also the same phases for each cycle and they also occur in the same order. I found this very interesting when I read this for the first time. I knew that there was a sleep cycle and that there were different types of sleep. But did not feel we went through the sleep cycle 5 times in one night!
5 cycles and 5 phases
What differs per cycle is the duration of the different phases of sleep, and this greatly influences the difference in “quality” or “importance” of each sleep cycle. I’ll come back to this article later, now a brief description of the 5 different phases that return in each cycle.
The 5 different phases of the sleep cycle
The first two phases are the “slight” sleep. Phase 3 and 4 are called the “deep” sleep and phase 5 is the “dream” sleep
Phase 1: NREM1
The first phase is the transition of wake up -> to sleep. The brain activity becomes lower and the number of movements of your eyes (even though your eyes are so close) also decreases. This phase only takes a few minutes. In total, in an average night of 5 cycles, this phase takes about 2 to 5% of total sleep.
Duration: 1 – 3 minutes -> 2 – 5% of total sleep.
Note : You should not be wake up before falling asleep.
Phase 2: NREM2
Here only really starts to sleep, but still a slight sleep.
Do you even wake up feeling you have not really slept?
Then you were in this phase.
Duration: about 50 minutes -> 45 – 55% of total sleep.
Phase 3: NREM3
At this stage there is a transition between light sleep and deep sleep. There is more regular breathing, your heart rate drops and your muscles relax
Duration: 3 to 8 minutes -> 3 – 8% of total sleep
Phase 4: NREM4
This is the final stage of true deep sleep. Your breathing and heart rate are now at its lowest. This is the phase that causes you to physically recover.
Did you wake up that you lost all the way?
If you wake up in this phase you are disoriented, and you need some time to realize where you are and what’s going on.
Not the ideal moment to be awakened so;)
Duration: 15 to 18 minutes -> 15 – 20% of total sleep.
Phase 5: REM sleep
In this phase, there is a lot of brain activity and a lot of eye movement. Now the brain is busy dreaming , it’s memories and information processing. Not only your brain is active now, but also physical activity takes place.
The muscles of your arms and legs are super relieved and almost paralyzed, but your breathing and heart rate are irregular and your blood pressure rises. The phase costs you physical energy, but it is vital for mental recovery.
Duration: 18 to 24 minutes -> 20 – 25% of total sleep.
The sleep sleep costs you energy
These were the 5 different REM phases. After this cycle, you will be awake shortly before the next cycle starts again, often unconsciously.Then the whole series of phases just begins again!
As I said earlier, the duration of the phases differs by cycle. In the first 3 cycles, the duration of the “deep” sleep phases is the longest. At the end of the night, the light and dream phases get a bigger share.
Because most of the deep sleep occurs in the first 3 cycles (plus still a significant part of the sleep sleep), this period is also referred to as the “core” sleep. During the deep sleep, our body is restoring, and during the dream sleep, our mind is actually refreshed, and our events are being processed. The last 2 cycles are called the “remaining” sleep.
During deep sleep, the body restores
This is also a reason that snoozing is so bad of your sleep. During the time you “snooze” you will no longer be in a deep sleep, so your body will not recover. Read more about this great “sin” in the article; Stop Snoozing!
This could mean that people only need sleep for 4 to 5 hours a night (or 3 cycles). because that is where we lay the foundation for recovery, physical and mental. Trip almost all people feel tired after 4 to 5 hours sleep.
Would that have something to do with today’s lifestyle?
We could say that by our hectic existence, that most of us live, we need more sleep. We need 2 cycles more than we originally “programmed”.
So, this should mean that the human body and the human mind really need only 4 to 5 hours of sleep when we would live a “normal, healthy and efficient” lifestyle where our body is actually built.
Which leads to the conclusion that people generally DO NOT do this.
The question of whether the day is at all possible would be a nice discussion, but not the subject of this blog. So let’s get it in the middle 🙂
How much sleep you need seems to be a reasonable indicator of how efficient you “perform”, ie, how efficiently you deal with your energy throughout the day.
However, how to use your energy 100% efficiently throughout the day, and being able to reduce your sleep time to 4 to 5 hours, would be really unprofitable. Imagine you have 20 hours of time to sleep next to sleeping? Without the cost of your night’s sleep, it’s effective. So without feeling tired, and without any negative consequences!
100% efficiency would be unprofitable
Unfortunately, I can not answer that question, and it is also not easy to find out. But, just trying to answer this also requires a very interesting, and immense study on the topic of “sleeping”.
Improve sleep quality
See this as a first step, and good start. You do not have to research anything else, because you have found this website. All kinds of topics and questions are discussed at InSlaap. So keep an eye on the website or sign up for the newsletter , and I’ll keep you updated.
Get drunk? Take a look at the 7-step method page of Sleepwright. If you want to work seriously on the quality of your sleep then this may be something for you. This book (and short e-course deeper sleep) helps you with 7 steps to get a better and more effective night’s sleep.