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Deep Sleep vs. REM: Get to Know Your Sleep Cycle

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know we love to talk about the importance of sleep. Getting healthy rest is not a reward for hitting a productivity goal. Sleep impacts overall health, just like what you eat, how often you move your body and how well you manage the stress that life throws your way. (Not to mention: Being well-rested makes all of those other healthy habits easier to maintain!) 

But not all sleep is the same, which is why you can’t subsist on catnaps or catch up on weekends. Read on to learn about the sleep cycle, including a breakdown of deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement).

Deep Sleep vs REM: Definitions of Your Sleep Cycles

Just as you have an internal body clock, you also have a sleep cycle that’s divided into REM and non-REM sleep. Your cycle includes a few rounds of both kinds, but you experience longer and more restful REM cycles the closer it gets to morning. That’s why waking up a couple of hours early to catch a flight or calm a little one can feel so disruptive!

Here’s how your sleep cycle ideally looks:

Stage 1: Wake to light sleep

As soon as you climb under the covers, take your Hello Dreams™ Sleep Strip with Melatonin & Calm Down™ herbal blend and start to feel yourself drift off, you experience “light sleep.” It only lasts about 5 minutes or 5% of your total sleep.

During this time, your breath deepens, your heart rate slows, your muscles start to release and your brain waves shift.

Stage 2: Light to kinda deep sleep

Once you’re in light sleep, you keep drifting deeper (unless something wakes you). Your brain waves, breath and pulse keep slowing down, and your body temperature begins to drop. Your eyes stop moving, too. 

This lasts for about 25 minutes – but usually makes up 50% of total sleep, as each time you enter stage 2, it gets longer.

person sleeping with mouth open

Stage 3: Deepest sleep

During the first half of the night, you spend longer periods of time in this phase. This is when you’re sleeping like a log or “the dead.” You’re sound asleep. Your arms and legs are heavy, and your breath and pulse are at their slowest. If something wakes you up now, you’ll feel groggy and confused. 

This stage lasts for 30 minutes to an hour.

REM sleep

Until now, you’ve been in non-REM sleep. But, about 90 minutes in, you reach REM sleep, so called because of the rapid eye movements that happen. For the next 90 minutes to 2 hours, your brain and parts of your body perk up. While your arms and legs can’t move (so you don’t sleepwalk), your brain waves, breath, heart rate and blood pressure resemble their waking levels. REM sleep is when you’re most likely to dream and have the most vivid dreams. Your first REM sleep lasts about 10 minutes, but the final one can be an hour.

Ideally, your sleep cycle continues like this until you wake up in the morning.

person waking up in the morning

Deep Sleep vs REM: Benefits

Deep sleep and REM sleep have their own specific benefits – and you need both for a healthy night’s sleep. Here’s what they offer.

During deep sleep, your body:

  • repairs and regrows tissues
  • consolidates memories (shifts from short-term to long-term memory)
  • processes emotions and learnings
  • builds bone and muscle tissue
  • grows and boosts the immune system

During REM sleep, your body:

  • dreams (they happen in other stages, too)
  • continues processing emotions and consolidating memories
  • gets you ready to wake up
  • grows and develops the brain

How Much Deep or REM Sleep Do You Need?

Adults need to aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night, which accounts for adequate amounts of both deep sleep and REM sleep. If you fall short on that amount, you’re more likely to get less REM sleep, since REM stages get longer later in the sleep cycle. If you wake up often during the night or wake up too early, you’ll feel the impact of sleep deprivation – which can in turn impact both mind and body.

person using hello dreams sleep strip on bed

Keep Hello Dreams™ Sleep Strips by your bed, to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up rejuvenated!* Or take one if you wake up in the middle of the night, to help you get back on track with your sleep cycle.* Melatonin eases you to sleep, while herbs like Jujube Seed, Poria fungus and Licorice Root quiet your mind and body for restorative rest.*

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.