Understand Sleep Cycle Stages to Sleep Soundly

Not sleeping well? Understand the each sleep stage to help you sleep soundly.
Improve your sleep quality and how much of it you get! Pexels image (CC0).

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We’ve all experienced the problem of not sleeping well. It leaves you feeling irritable, sad, exhausted and due to the effect it has on your hormones it can even make you feel hungrier during the day. As bad as this is in the short term, chronic bad sleep can cause high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and make any existing mental health issues a lot worse too. Our bodies need sleep as it’s a chance to repair, transfer memories into long term memory storage, synthesize hormones and grow and repair muscle. Here’s some more information to help you to sleep soundly every night! Let’s start with a sleep stage guide.

Sleep Stage Details

It’s usually not as simple as drifting off to sleep soundly and then waking up again in the morning. There are actually different kinds and stages of sleep which have various functions on the body and brain. This is how you can go to sleep some nights and wake up still feeling tired. Light sleep, which accounts for the majority of sleep gained in the night, is responsible for processing memories and emotions. It’s here that the metabolism regulates too.

The next sleep stage is deep. Most of the deep sleep we get occurs earlier on in the night. When you sleep soundly in this sleep stage, you secrete growth hormone, you rebuild your body’s cells, and the immune system is strengthened. You don’t dream during this stage, and it’s mainly focused on the body.

On the flip side, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is very much about the brain. It’s at this stage that your brain is very active, and you begin to dream. The body is paralyzed during this sleep stage to essentially stop you from “acting out” your dreams. You usually get longer periods of REM sleep later in the night close to the morning, which explains why you’re more likely to experience bad dreams the closer you are to waking up for the day. Fitness trackers are a great way to find out exactly how much of each sleep stage you are getting. Since your heart rate changes during each stage it’s easy for it to determine and present in easy-to-read graphs.


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Sleep soundly on a new mattress

Increase Comfort if You’re Not Sleeping Well

A large part of our day (and life in general) is lying down to sleep. So, if you’re lying in an uncomfortable position on an unsuitable surface, it can cause you some issues. Neck, back, shoulder, and hip pain can all result from this. Spend some time choosing a good mattress; it’s recommended that mattresses are replaced every seven years as after that they can wear out. You need something that’s firm enough to support your body but not so firm it causes paint to pressure points. A lot of it will come down to how much you weigh so try out some different styles and see which works best for you.

Your duvet and pillows can also be a reason why you’re not sleeping well. Both of these things can harbor dust mites, and set off allergies and respiratory problems at night. If you haven’t replaced them in a while, throw them away and buy good anti-allergenic ones. Soft sheets will finish everything off and give you the ultimate in comfort to help you sleep soundly.

Go with good quality with a high thread count that feels soft to the touch – blends including materials like polyester won’t be as breathable and could make you sweat in the night. Finally, what you’re wearing to bed can make all the difference too. Soft, comfortable cotton or bamboo pajamas are a good choice. They’re cozy, breathable and keep you warm in winter/ cool in summer.

Schedule Z’s to Sleep Soundly

Lastly, sticking to a good sleep schedule is one of the best things you can do when it comes to overcoming an issue of not sleeping well. You can do this by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Doing this should help you to fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep in each sleep stage, and wake up feeling refreshed where you’ve had enough zzz’s.


  1. Some great advice – and an interesting note on the fitness trackers as I’d never really considered them for monitoring sleep (though I’m now really curious as to how effective they are, and what awful things they’ll say about the odd hours I get here and there lately..!)
    Caz x

  2. Hi Christy,

    great tips.I was sleeping very badly earlier.I was very tired after awakening .Then I started to breathe deeper and I must say that my whole life has changed, and with that my sleep. I have more energy, and now I need couple hours of sleep (4-5) to fully recover

    • Ben, I’m pleased that you found the solution to your sleep problem. Only once you achieve quality sleep can you then perform at your best.. and continue to bring us those fine blog posts 🙂

  3. Being on a sleep schedule is one of the things that has helped me the most! Consistency is key. It’s also really helpful to wear a sleep mask on the weekends, so that my body doesn’t always wake me up as soon as the sun is up!


  4. So true! I spent as much money as I could for the best bed, bedding, pillows, etc. We spend more time in our bed than any place else! Stress is probably my number one issue with not getting a good nights sleep… 🙁

  5. Good advice. When I was in my 30s and 40s, I never understood why ‘sleep’ would be a problem – it was easy! But after that, it’s been a battle. So hormones, for sure, give women a problem. Also, as my guy ages, he snores more, and that wakes me up often. I try the breathing, breathing, breathing, and that helps. xo

  6. Getting a sleep number bed helped my husband and me tremendously with getting better sleep. We also both sometimes take melatonin, a non-addictive herbal supplement you can buy in any vitamin section of a grocery store, before bed. It helps you fall asleep and stay asleep more deeply.

    • Hi Amy, yes melatonin can be helpful! I like that it’s not addictive, as you mention. Great to hear that you’ve invested in a quality bed ~ Cheers to great sleep this weekend 🙂

  7. Irregular sleeping patterns, poor sleeping patterns and insomnia can definitely have an impact on how we function and perform and it definitely has a significant impact on our mental health. I think that this blog post was very important because most of the time people don’t prioritise sleep and a proper sleeping routine. It’s important for us to realise that sleep is important and that we should start prioritising it and developing good sleep habits. I am currently raising awareness on creating mentally healthy workplaces and have written a post on how sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Not only will getting a good night’s rest help you perform better at work but maintaining a good sleeping pattern is beneficial to your mental health.

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