What Happens to Your Body While You Sleep

Sleep may seem like a fairly uncomplicated thing, especially when it’s going well—you crawl into bed at night, fall asleep in the morning, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. In reality, you pass through many different stages of sleep through the night in a cycle that repeats about every 90 to 110 minutes. These stages are not all the same, and scientists believe that different types of sleep serve different purposes.

There are two main types of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement), the type of sleep that includes our most vivid dreaming, and NREM (non-rapid eye movement), which makes up about 75 to 80 percent of our sleep and includes periods of restorative rest. NREM sleep is broken down into four stages, which are followed by a period of REM sleep.

These five stages of sleep progress from half-awake sleepiness through deep sleep to dreaming as follows:

Stage 1—lasts 1 to 7 minutes—In this stage you feel drowsy, and your brain activity starts to slow. However, you’re still somewhat alert and can be fully woken up easily at this point.

Stage 2—lasts 10 to 25 minutes—In this stage of light sleep, your brain waves continue to slow and increase in size on an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor. Interspersed with these readings are spikes of brain activity called “sleep spindles.” You can still be woken up easily in this stage. Your heart and breathing rate become even and your body temperature drops.

Stage 3—lasts 20 to 40 minutes—In this stage you enter deeper sleep, with sleep spindles disappearing from EEG readings and even slower, taller waves known as delta waves starting to appear. The longer that stage three sleep lasts, the harder it is for someone to wake you up.

Stage 4—lasts 20 to 40 minutes—This is the deepest stage of sleep. Your muscles relax, your breathing slows down, and you are extremely hard to wake up. This is the most restorative stage of sleep, when your body repairs muscles, boosts your immune system, stimulates growth, and gathers energy for the day ahead.

REM Sleep—lasts 10 to 60 minutes—This stage is named for the jerky, fast eye movements that occur beneath your closed eyelids. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate all increase during this stage, and your brain becomes much more active, resembling the EEG of someone who is awake. However, your brain sends signals that relax and immobilize your body. This stage is associated with vivid dreaming. It is also believed to play an important role in processing information and forming long-term memories from our daytime experiences.

When your sleep is cut short or is frequently interrupted, you may not spend enough time in the restorative stages of sleep, shortchanging both your body and your mind. It’s important not only to schedule enough time for sleep, the way you would schedule any important activity, but to make sure that your sleep environment is conducive to getting good quality rest.

At IDLE Sleep, we craft high-quality mattresses designed to last. With different levels of firmness and hybrid, all-foam, and latex construction options, we have mattresses to suit every sleeper. If you’re not getting the great sleep you deserve, don’t wait to make a change. Click here to find the IDLE Sleep mattress that’s right for you.

Does Blue Light Mess with Bedtime?

Of all the common advice given to promote healthy sleep, the caution against using electronic devices such as computers and cell phones right before bed can be the hardest to follow. If you’ve been busy at work or school all day, or you’ve been taking care of your family, the evening may seem like the perfect time to catch up on your social media, watch a few YouTube videos, or even get ahead on some work for the next day. Doing that, however, stands to sabotage your chances of getting a good night’s rest in key ways.

Computers and cell phones emit blue light, and this shorter-wavelength light is more powerful than other wavelengths in resetting your body’s internal clock toward wakefulness. Our bodies evolved to set our sleep patterns based on the natural light of the sun; when you introduce artificial light at all hours, the natural pattern of wakefulness and sleep is disrupted. Because the retina is particularly sensitive to light in the blue wavelengths, exposure to electronics and LEDs is especially problematic.

To begin with, blue light suppresses melatonin production. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland that helps to regulate the sleep cycle. It is present in low amounts during the day, but slowly begins to increase later in the day, finally peaking in the middle of the night. Exposure to blue light in the evening resets this cycle, making melatonin production peak later.

In addition, as part of your normal sleep rhythms, your core temperature also drops by 1 to 2 degrees. This decrease helps you get to sleep and stay asleep throughout the night. However, blue light prevents this natural decrease in temperature, illustrating the degree to which it disrupts normal patterns.

What does this mean in terms of how you sleep? First of all, this interference with your natural sleep cycle means that it takes you longer to fall asleep when you do go to bed. During the night you experience less REM sleep, the stage of sleep associated with dreaming and thought to provide important benefits for stress reduction, memory, and mood. You also wake more frequently during the night and wake up in the morning feeling less rested.

To prevent these effects, you should limit your exposure to electronics in the hour or so immediately before bedtime. If you must use your cell phone or computer in the evening hours, use blue-blocking filters or glasses to reduce your exposure. You can also help to reset your sleep rhythms by making sure you do get exposure to bright light early in the day, when its stimulating effect can help reduce daytime sleepiness. Paying attention to your routines can help you reset to a more mindful schedule that promotes healthy rest.

At IDLE Sleep, we know that good sleep is the foundation for a successful day. Our luxury mattresses are designed to help you get the quality sleep you need night after night. To choose the IDLE Sleep mattress that’s right for you, click here.

How Much Sleep Do You Truly Need?

Everybody knows that getting a good night’s sleep is important. Even without facts and figures to guide us, the feeling of trying to slog through a day (or several days) after insufficient sleep is enough to tell us that without proper rest, our bodies don’t get what they need to function at peak efficiency. So what is the right amount of sleep? It turns out that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to that question.

Most people, if asked, would say that everyone needs to get eight hours of sleep a night. Contrary to this common belief, experts have found that the optimal amount of sleep varies not only from person to person, but also according to how old you are. At any age, getting too little sleep and getting too much sleep are associated with poorer health—however, instead of a single figure for how much sleep you should be aiming for, there is a range of what is considered a healthy amount of slumber.

The National Sleep Foundation, based on extensive research, has identified ranges of proper sleep for key developmental stages. In general, the younger you are, the more sleep you need. Their recommendations are:

Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day

Infant (4-11 months): 12-15 hours each day

Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours each day

Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours each day

School-age children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours each day

Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours each day

Younger adults (18-25 years): 7-9 hours each day

Adult (26-64 years): 7-9 hours each day

Older adults (65+ years): 7-8 hours each day

Especially for young children, the total amount of sleep is likely to include daytime naps. For most adults, there’s a two-hour range of what is considered a typically healthy amount of sleep, which means if you get more sleep one night and less another it’s nothing to be concerned about, as long as you’re generally falling within the overall range.

Even these recommendations are not set in stone, though. The National Sleep Foundation recognizes that some individuals may need more or less sleep than is generally recommended—for example, you may have a preschooler who gets by just fine on 9 hours of sleep. While the numbers are a useful guideline, quantity of sleep is only one factor to consider when you’re deciding how much rest you need.

The true test of how much sleep you need is how you feel during the day. If you feel alert, productive, and energetic on seven hours of sleep per night, then you don’t need to worry about increasing the time you spend in bed. However, if you’re sleeping eight hours and still waking up groggy, then perhaps you aren’t getting enough rest. You also need to evaluate the quality of rest you’re getting—a night spent tossing and turning will not have the same restorative benefits as one where you drop off to sleep quickly and spend your hours in blissful slumber.

At IDLE Sleep, we design our luxury mattresses with the latest materials to promote quality rest. With superior temperature regulation and pressure relief, our mattresses help you get to sleep and stay asleep night after night. To find out which IDLE Sleep mattress is right for you, click here.