Ah, before we take a step further into the meat of this juicy information, I’d like to give you a new understanding, which will make this easier to grasp. You may have already learned that our minds exhibit a certain brain wave when we’re alive. It’s not important for you to understand how these brain waves work or what they are, it’s simply a measure of brain activity.
The general understanding you may want to have is that brain waves can either get “high” and more intense. Or they can get “lower” and become slower, less intense, and for lack of a better word, lazy.
The 5 Stages of Sleep
There are 5 stages of sleep. Meaning, you’re not always having the same experience when you’re sleeping, albeit you’re not aware that you’re having them. As you read about these, and you allow this new understanding to come into view – you may begin to realize just how this mechanism may have played a key role in some of the sleepy experiences of your life.
When You’re Fully Awake
Before you sleep, you’re awake. Duh! But what really happens in your mind when we’re fully awake? It’s at this point that our wakefulness system is at its peak point during the day, and our minds exhibit really high brain waves, called beta brain waves.
When we’re awake, and in beta brain waves, we are mostly in-tune with our super active conscious mind, which races from thought to thought, and keeps us on track with our daily lives.
Stage 1 Sleep
Whether you know it or not, you have consciously experienced Stage 1 Sleep all your life.
Can you remember a time when you were drowsing off, day dreaming, or “zoning out” during a boring class or lecture?
It’s usually during times like these (and you’ll learn why) that we enter Stage 1 Sleep. During this stage we exhibit slightly lower brain waves called alpha brain
waves, and some theta brain waves. Alpha brain waves are also sometimes called “awake waves” – because we’re still very awake when we’re exhibiting them.
In this stage our body relaxes, respiration and heart rate slightly drops, and our minds tend to drift into an altered state of creativity and relaxation, where thoughts drip like honey and it feels goooooood to just be there.
You can think of Stage 1 Sleep as a “doorway” to your sleep.
Stage 2 Sleep
During stage 2 sleep, we experience patterns of brain waves called sleep spindles, and K-Complexes. These are sudden bursts of brain activity. Some scientists think this symbolizes the gradual attempt by the brain to “turn itself off”, in a manner of speaking.
During this stage we are still very wakable. In fact, during sleep studies, most people woken up out of Stage 2 sleep say “I was still awake.”
Stage 3 & 4 (Deep Sleep)
During stage 3 and 4 our brain waves reach their lowest frequency, we exhibit very low brain waves called delta brain waves, and our mind goes back and forth between delta and theta brain waves.
It’s during these 2 stages that we are truly officially “asleep”, this stage is also called deep sleep. As we enter deep sleep, our blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate, reach their lowest point of the day. Our blood vessels dilate and most of the blood which is usually stored in our organs during the day travels into our muscles to nourish and repair them.
Stage 5 (REM Sleep)
Stage 5 Sleep is probably the most fascinating stage of sleep, as scientists still do not know the true purpose of this stage. Stage 5 sleep is also termed Rapid Eye Movement, or REM sleep.