Stages of Sleep - Adventist HealthCare

Stages of Sleep

Topic Overview

Sleep stages are divided into non–rapid eye movement (non-REM) and rapid eye movement (REM).

Non-REM (NREM) sleep

Non–rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep has 3 stages:

  • Stage N1 occurs right after you fall asleep and is very short (usually less than 10 minutes). It involves light sleep from which you can be awakened easily.
  • Stage N2 lasts from about 30 to 60 minutes. During this stage, your muscles become more relaxed and you may begin to have slow-wave (delta) brain activity.
  • Stage N3 is deep sleep and lasts about 20 to 40 minutes. During this stage, delta brain activity increases and a person may have some body movements. It is very hard to wake up someone in stage N3.

REM (R) sleep

Rapid eye movement sleep is deeper than non-REM sleep. During REM sleep:

  • The eyes and eyelids flutter.
  • Breathing becomes irregular. During REM sleep, it is normal to have short episodes when breathing stops (apnea).

You do most of your dreaming during REM sleep. But your brain paralyzes your muscles so you do not act out the dreams.

During sleep, a person usually progresses through the 3 stages of non-REM sleep before entering REM sleep. This takes about 1 to 2 hours after falling asleep. The cycle is repeated three to four times each night. An adult spends more time in NREM sleep than in REM sleep. An infant usually spends about half of the sleeping time in NREM and half in REM stages.

Related Information

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 5, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Hasmeena Kathuria, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.