What is a typical sleep pattern?
What is a typical sleep pattern?
Creating a typical sleep pattern of great sleep naturally begins with the quality of your sleep. Along with a good diet and healthy exercise, great sleep is important to your well-being. If you're determining whether you have a typical sleep pattern that leads to great sleep, you first need to understand when and what happens during your sleep cycles.
Before we delve into a typical sleep pattern, we need to define what "great" sleep means. Great, high-quality sleep is classified as 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, with the exception of normal bodily functions like going to the restroom, rolling over, or getting water.
Sleep Stages in a Typical Sleep Pattern
There are 4 stages of sleep during a sleep cycle, 3 of which are non-REM (NREM) stages. The stages repeat in a cyclical pattern throughout the night. Each cycle lasts about 90 to 110 minutes. The first 2 stages progress from light sleep to a slowing of brain waves. In stage 2, muscle activity decreases, and conscious awareness of the outside world disappears. However, stages 3 is when you are in the deepest sleep and when many background body functions take place. During stages 3-4 NREM sleep, the body produces many growth hormones and hormones essential for healing.
It is difficult to wake someone up during stage 3 sleep. If someone is awakened, they are very groggy. It can take up to 30 minutes for that person to regain normal mental functions.
In stage 4 sleep, we reach REM sleep, which is about 25% of your total sleep. REM stands for rapid eye movement. During REM sleep, your brain and body are actually energized, and you dream the most during this stage.
REM sleep begins after regions of the brain receive and signals to and from different areas of the body. Signals sent to the spinal cord to shut off movement. This creates a temporary paralysis in the body. This inability to move the muscles in the limbs keep a person safe while they actively dream.
According to the National Institute of Health, REM is thought to be involved in the process of storing memories, learning, and balancing your mood. However, scientists still theorize on the exact nature of this.
What does a typical sleep pattern look like?
In a typical sleep cycle, the sleeper moves through the stages above in the order listed, 1-3; however, the person doesn’t go straight to REM sleep after stage 3. The cycle goes back through the stages in reverse, ending in REM sleep.
The order looks like this: Stage 1 lightest sleep, Stage 2 light sleep, Stage 3 deep sleep, Stage 2 light sleep, Stage 1 lightest sleep, REM sleep, Stage 1 lightest sleep, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 2, Stage 1, REM.
How does your age affect your typical sleep pattern?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, as people age, they spend less time in the deep dreamless stage of sleep. Remember, this is the stage where the body heals itself.
In addition, they wake up an average of 3 to 4 times, as well as spend more time aware of being awake. It takes longer for them to fall asleep and they awaken easily.
They report pain as a contributing factor to increased wakefulness. In order to restore a typical sleep pattern, finding comfort immediately is very important. Selecting the right bedding, pillows, especially, can significantly reduce discomfort and increase overall well being.
For example, a down pillow, where your head sinks into the pillow sleeps very differently from a feather pillow, where your head rests upon the pillow. If one is not right for you, you'll toss and turn and disturb your sleep pattern just trying to be comfortable.
Selecting a pillow for your build, sleep style, and mattress can help you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and allow your body to heal, both through the sleep cycle and by correct body position.
If you need help selecting the right pillow, our team would love to answer your questions and walk you through the process. We've developed a quiz to help you determine which pillow is right for you and it's free. Click here to take the quiz.