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Mental Wellbeing - Balance - Sleep Cycle

Sleep cycles are an element of our biological clocks, these are regular occurring brain wave patterns that happen whilst we are asleep.

Sleep Cycle

Sleep cycles are an element of our biological clocks, these are regular occurring brain wave patterns that happen whilst we are asleep. Each sleep cycle typically lasts around 90 minutes to 2 hours. As these occur often, most people will experience on average 4 to 6 in 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.

Sleep Cycle stages

Stage One

This is known as the light stage of sleep and one of the smallest stages only lasting around 5 to 10 minutes. The body and mind start to ‘slow,’ making us feel relaxed and drowsy. It is also easier to wake in this stage, hence why quick power naps should last around 20 minutes so that you don’t go into a deep sleep. 

Stage Two

During the second sleep stage, this is still considered light sleep, muscle activity, eye movement and brain waves begin to decrease, preparing the mind for a deep sleep. Throughout stage two, the brain makes sudden brain wave spikes; these are considered sleep spindles. It’s believed that during this stage most of people’s memories will be organised.

Stages Three & Four

Slow waves of sleep begin and it can be harder to awake during this stage. The body’s muscles become completely relaxed within this stage; body temperature, breathing rate and blood pressure all decrease greatly during this time. In addition, the body creates growth hormones, maintains the function of the immune system and repairs and develops muscle tissue, making this stage crucial for recovery and physical health.

Stage Five

After the above stages, the body goes into the REM stage. This is where dreams are experienced, blood pressure and heart rate increases and breathing can quicken. This stage plays a role in our learning ability and storing long memory information. As we get older, we often will experience less REM sleep, with infants experiencing a lot more.

Mental Wellbeing – Balance – Sleep Cycle

         Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle FAQ

What is a sleep cycle?

Sleep cycles are an element of our biological clocks, these are regular occurring brain wave patterns that happen whilst we are asleep.

What are the benefits of sleep?

There are many benefits including; improves your concentration, boosts heart health and reduces stress levels.

What are tips for a good nights sleep?

Wind down

Sleep at similar times

Create a sleep friendly room

What is REM sleep?

This is where dreams are experienced, blood pressure and heart rate increases and breathing can quicken.

What is light sleep?

Muscle activity, eye movement and brain waves begin to decrease, preparing the mind for a deep sleep. It’s believed that during this stage most of people’s memories will be organised.

Advantages of sleep

We have all experienced a time when you wake up feeling tired and just wanting to go back to bed. Not getting enough sleep can lead to decreased concentration levels, tiredness and feeling irritable, making you want to indulge in caffeine or sugar. 

However, having a good seven to nine hours of sleep can make you refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Just like eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, sleep is so important for your health. Continue reading to discover the advantages of sleep:

Improve your concentration and attention

Getting an adequate amount of sleep can help you maintain energy levels and stay focused during the day. Not getting enough sleep may mean that your brain and body are not functioning effectively and this can affect your reaction times, risk assessment, strategic thinking, concentration and attention span.

Make memories and learn

Sleep benefits your mind, as well as your body. When you are asleep your brain organises and processes information you have gathered throughout the day. It converts short term memory into long term memory, helping you with learning and seeing everything more clearly. 

Maintaining a healthy weight

Not sleeping well can mean controlling your appetite can become more difficult and might lead to gaining weight. If you are not getting enough sleep, you will therefore be awake for a longer period of time and your body may struggle for energy. This can lead to you choosing unhealthier foods with a higher sugar content and you may overeat, to try and compensate for the lack of energy. In addition, sleep deprivation can change hormone levels which signal fullness and hunger in the body. 


Heart health

Sleep deprivation can heighten the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. If you wake up too often during the night this may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. If this happens your body may be unable to compensate for the heightened blood pressure. Inadequate sleep has been linked to negative insulin resistance and regulation, this can lead to diabetes and high blood sugar levels.

Strong immune system

Sleeping well can boost your immune system. A good night’s sleep allows your body to repair and rest which is often why when you’re ill you need to sleep more. In addition, your body’s response to nasty germs can be increased and is essentially for recovery. 

Increased emotional wellbeing

If you are struggling and have lots going on in your mind then thinking too much can make it a struggle for you to sleep at night. However, this lack of sleep can then make your mood even lower and your problems may feel more intense. This may then lead to a vicious cycle. Try to practice mindfulness techniques that will help you both day and night and boost your emotional wellbeing. If you are really struggling then you could try putting your thoughts on paper before going to bed.

Mental health

Sleep has benefits for both physical and mental health. Not getting enough can cause mental health implications.

Reduced levels of stress
Many things can make you feel stressed such as, work, health, family and finance and how people deal with such stress will differ between different individuals. These can cause you to struggle to sleep at night as your body may release stress hormones such as; cortisol. However, sleeping well can create an opposite effect making you feel relaxed.

Maintain positive relationships

Everyone knows that a poor night may leave you feeling down, whereas a good night will make you feel more positive and therefore be in a better position to deal with those around you. If you are feeling positive this will reflect onto others too such as colleagues and friends, maintaining healthy relationships. As well as increasing your communication, reasoning and language skills. 

Tips for a good night’s sleep

Having a constant bedtime routine can help you fall asleep much easier. However, it is easier said than done. Your routine will vary depending on your schedule and commitments, it’s important to find one that suits you and that you can commit to. Continue reading to discover tips to get into a nighttime routine. 

Sleep at similar times: this allows you to get used to a similar routine and sets your body clock. The majority of adults need around six and nine hours sleep each night, by knowing this you can work out the times you need to go to sleep and wake up. Waking up at the same time each morning ensures your routine is not disrupted. 

Wind down: this is critical. There many ways you can begin to relax including;

  • Warm baths
  • Avoid the use of phones, laptops and tablets
  • Sleep apps
  • Reading
  • Listening to music or podcasts
  • Light exercise like yoga
  • Meditation
  • Writing lists for the next day

Create a sleep-friendly bedroom: your bedroom needs to be a relaxing place, which is associated with sleep. This may be weakened by Tvs, an uncomfortable bed or mattress, noise and light. An ideal bedroom environment should be tidy, quiet and dark. 

Sleep diaries: this may help to uncover habits in your life and daily activities, contributing to sleep. If you are struggling with insomnia, visiting a GP may be advised and they may also advise you to keep a sleep diary to track the influences to this. 

Now, you are aware of the sleep cycle, its benefits and how to get a better night’s sleep, are you ready to improve your sleep and reap the benefits? 

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