REM, Light, Deep Sleep: How Much Do You Need

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How do you feel if you don't get enough sleep? Compare it with a day when you had a satisfactory amount of sleep. You will be able to make out a difference. A night of good sleep determines your performance the next day. Sleep refreshes your mind and body. It repairs and regenerates the tissues of your body, resets the hormone levels, thereby preparing you for the next day.

According to the AASM, the older the individual, the lesser the quantity of sleep required per day. An adult must sleep for 7 to 8 hours, whereas infants need12 to 16 hours, and children 11 to 12 hours.

What is REM and NREM Sleep?

NREM is the non-random eye movement sleep that occurs in the earlier hours of sleep. It is characterized by slow movement of the eyes, lasts for a short duration, and repeats after regular intervals. This makes up about 75 to 80% of the entire sleep. The heart rate is slowed down, and breathing gets shallow here.

REM is the random eye movement sleep, which is seen in the later stages of sleep. The eyes rapidly move in different directions during this stage and make up about 20 to 25% of your entire sleep cycle. An increased heartbeat rate and heavy breathing are observed. The brain is the most active here, and people tend to get dreams in this sleep. The emotions are processed, and memories are strengthened.

These sleep types occur over the different stages of sleep. We will further discuss the various stages of sleep.

What are the Different Stages of Sleep?

There are 4 stages of sleep. The first 3 stages are NREM sleep, and the 4th stage is REM sleep. You cycle 3 to 4 times through all these stages during your entire sleep. Each cycle lasts for about 50 to 90 minutes.

  • Stage 1

It is in this stage that you switch over from wakefulness to sleep. Even though you fall asleep, you tend to hear sounds from your environment, and you are aware to an extent. Your sleep is shallow, and you get a light sleep here. However, your body and mind have enough room to relax. Heart rate typically slows down with a significant reduction in blood pressure. Muscles also tend to relax more. This is usually NREM sleep, and it lasts for a shorter duration.

  • Stage 2

This stage extends for about 30 to 60 minutes and is usually a light sleep of the NREM type. It marks the starting of deep and relaxed sleep. Though one is not aware, it is easy to awaken the person. Breathing slows further, and the heartbeat rate decreases. This is accompanied by a decrease in body temperature.

  • Stage 3

Deep sleep begins in this stage and is usually of the NREM type. The pace of breathing is further reduced, and the heartbeat becomes more or less regular. The brain shuts down and becomes unresponsive to any external stimuli. The body is in complete relaxation in this stage.

  • Stage 4

This is the last stage and is of the REM type. Sleep is the deepest in this stage. But, the brain is the most active, and the person usually gets dreams. Since the body tends to be in a paralyzed state, the person cannot move his arms and legs in this stage. It is difficult to awaken a person in this stage as the brain is unresponsive to any stimuli. Heartbeat rate reaches the maximum, and so does the blood pressure. The repairing and regeneration of the body and the resetting of the hormone levels also happen in this stage.

Another factor that determines the quality of your sleep is  the height of your bed.The height of your bed should include the height of your mattress,the bed frame height, the floor. The ideal height that is needed by an average person is at-least 25 inches above the floor.There are a wide range of bed frame to select from beginning with platform bed frame,Adjustable bed frame etc and standard bed frames.

How Much Sleep Should You Get?

  • Light sleep

This is NREM sleep, and it covers a large part of your sleep. Though one may get the impression that light sleep may not be as significant as deep sleep, this is not right. This sleep type plays a crucial role in determining the quality of your deep sleep. In a way, it complements REM sleep. The body is relaxed by reducing the heart rate, bringing down the blood pressure, and relaxing the muscles. This helps the body to reach a deep sleep state.

  • Deep sleep

This is REM sleep, and it covers about 10 to 20% of your sleep. In a typical 8 hour sleep, about 60 to 100 minutes are of this type. It is in this sleep that most of the body functions take place. Recovering the body from injuries, strengthening the immune system, and resetting the hormone levels take place.

How To Improve the Quality of Your Sleep?

Many factors determine the quality of your sleep.

  • Type of pillow and mattress

One should select a comfortable mattress that has enough thickness and is not too hard. The thickness depends on several factors, such as the number of sleepers, space availability in the room, medical conditions, and budget. It is advised to research well before you purchase one.

Euro top mattresses are comfortable as they have padding that is fitted beneath the bed cover. But pillow-top mattresses come with padding that is stitched on top of the mattress. Both of these are comfortable mattresses, but it is better to go through the pros and cons of pillow top and euro top mattresses before purchasing them.

  • Bedding materials: Light-colored cotton bedding materials are the ideal bedding materials.

  • Noisy environment:It is difficult to sleep in a noisy environment. It is advised to switch off mobile phones or television during your sleep hours.

  • Bedroom lighting:In brighter environment production of melatonin, the sleep hormone is decreased. Hence, it is advised to go for a dim rather than a bright light.

  • Wall color of your bedroom: It is advised to go for lighter colors. But, this is a personal choice, and it is not a strict rule.


Sleeping for the required hours is crucial for the proper functioning of your body. Sleep deprivation can lead to many health consequences such as heart diseases and hypertension. To improve the standards of your sleep, you should select the right bedroom furniture, mattresses, and pillows. 

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