What Does The Term "Average sleep pattern" Mean?
Average sleep, pattern simply means the average amount of time that you spend asleep. People are more likely to be at their sleepiest between the hours of 1 pm and 3 pm and between 2 am and 4 am.
The recommended amount of sleep time is between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night, so basically you are spending 1/3 of your lifetime asleep. It seems like rather a lot but remember that your mind and body are very busy during this time, preparing you for the day ahead.
Let’s take a look at the 5 stages of sleep and how much of each you need. The stages of sleep flit between non rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) this will include drowsiness, light sleep, moderate to deep sleep, deepest sleep, and eventually dreaming.
The Stages of Sleep
The sleep stages 1, 2, and REM consist of light sleep, while stages 3 and 4 comprise of deep sleep.
During stage 1, you are drifting from being awake to being asleep. This is a light, NREM sleep that doesn’t last very long. You may start to relax and dream, but may also find yourself twitching as you make the transition into stage 2.
Stage 2 of your sleep cycle is still a light sleep, but you are starting to drift into a steadier sleep pattern. Your breathing and your heartbeat will begin to slow down, and your muscles will start to relax. Your body temperature will decrease, and your brain waves will become less active.
In stage 3, you start to enter a deeper sleep, and stage 4 is the deepest sleep stage. During deep sleep, your breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, and brain waves will reach their lowest levels. Your muscles will become extremely relaxed, and this is the time where you will become harder to wake up.
Otherwise known as the healing stage. This is where your tissue growth and repair takes place, important hormones are released, and your cellular energy is restored.
The Final Stage REM sleep
Your first REM cycle of the night actually starts 90 minutes after you have fallen asleep and will happen every 90 minutes. Your eyes will move quicker behind your eyelids and your brainwaves will look remarkably similar to your brainwaves when you are awake. Your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure will start to rise to closer to waking levels.
REM sleep, often referred to as stage 5, is where you are most likely to have your dreams. Your arms and legs will become temporarily paralysed during this stage as this will prevent you from physically acting out your dreams and potentially causing harm to yourself or others.
So How much deep sleep should you be getting?
A normal healthy adult should be getting about 8 hours of sleep a night, so broken down you should be in between 62 to 110 minutes of a deep sleep. But the older you become the less deep sleep you need.
During deep sleep, there are a variety of functions that take place in the mind and body and these include:
- Your memories are consolidated
- Your learning and emotions process
- Your physical recovery occurs
- Your blood sugar levels and metabolism balance out
- Your immune system is energised
- Your brain detoxifies
Without deep sleep, these functions cannot take place and the symptoms of sleep deprivation will begin to notice. But there is no such thing yet as too much deep sleep
So how much REM should you be having?
Dreaming is most common at this stage of sleep. Many experts believe that dreaming helps you process emotions and solidify certain memories.
REM takes up about 20 to 25 percent of most adults sleep and this seems to be a healthy during the average sleep pattern. A recent study has suggested that a higher amount of REM sleep could be linked to depression but this has not been proven as yet.
Light Sleep How Much Do You Need?
Many experts believe that light sleep is indeed very good for you but there is no minimum amount of light sleep to aim for. Light sleep is usually a default, a stage that is almost avoidable if you are asleep at all.