Sleep phases

Sleep yourself healthy

Scientific research into sleep began with the invention of the EEG. Only then could brain waves be measured and the secrets of sleep be unlocked.

In modern sleep research of the 20th and 21st centuries, sleep is divided into 5 phases.

Each of these phases, which we go through several times every night, has special effects. A rough distinction is made between REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and non-REM phases. The duration of the individual phases changes in the course of the night and thus also the quality of our sleep.

Phase 1 - Falling asleep

Falling asleep belongs to the category of non-rem sleep. For most people, falling asleep takes only a few minutes. The body relaxes and the brain comes to rest. As soon as soft sounds or light touches are no longer perceived, you have fallen asleep. The barrier from being awake to being asleep has now been crossed. The person loses his waking consciousness and thus part of the control over himself.

In this sleep phase, two phenomena that are perceived as unpleasant can occur, the twitching of the legs and a feeling of falling.

Restless legs up to twitching occur when the brain has almost "fallen asleep" but the muscles are still more active. In this case, the body function is not shut down synchronously with the brain function. Stress can intensify such phenomena.

The feeling of falling is attributed to disturbances in the organ of equilibrium in the ear and not to the loss of waking consciousness, as one might assume.
It is interesting that both phenomena are perceived but hardly disturb the transition into the second phase.

Phase 2 - The light sleep

It is characterised by the body relaxing further and the breathing and heartbeat slowing down further. This phase takes up about 50 % of the total sleep.

Stage 3 - The transition

This stage is a transitional phase to deep sleep. Here, muscle relaxation continues to decrease and breathing also slows down. Our sleep deepens. We wake up with difficulty.

Phase 4 - Deep sleep

This is the most restful phase of sleep. The body muscles are completely relaxed. Waking someone up from this stage of sleep is not easy. During this phase, a lot of growth hormones are released, which play an important role in the immune system and the regeneration of cell tissue. In addition, deep sleep is also of great importance for the processing of dreams.

We can see how important the deep sleep phase is from the fact that if someone does not sleep one night, the deep sleep phase lasts twice as long the following night, at the expense of all other sleep stages.
Increased deep sleep and increased activity of the immune system can also be observed during illness. The popular wisdom: "Sleep yourself healthy" is thus scientifically substantiated.

Phenomena such as sleepwalking and talking in sleep also occur during this sleep phase.

Phase 5 - The REM sleep phase
(Rapid Eye Movement)

We also dream in other sleep phases, but in the REM phase we dream particularly intensively and also for the longest time. In this dream phase, not only information but also emotional sensory impressions are processed. If you wake people up in this sleep phase, most of them are able to remember their dreams.

In REM sleep, there is a complete relaxation of the transversely striated muscles, i.e. the muscles that we can influence voluntarily. This complete relaxation protects us from "acting out" our dreams and prevents us from lashing out or running away.

During this phase, breathing and heart rate increase again, as does blood pressure. Sweating also takes place during this time.

What happens when the sleep phases are disturbed?

It is considered normal to be awake for a few minutes within the sleep phases. Adults wake up briefly up to 30 times a night. If you fall asleep again immediately within 2 to 3 minutes, this does not disturb your healthy sleep rhythm and you cannot remember it in the morning.
In people with sleep disorders, the sleep rhythm gets confused. Often the phase of falling asleep, in particular, is excessively long. In addition, there is frequent, prolonged waking during the night, which breaks the sleep cycle. The result: you feel both physically and mentally exhausted the next morning - especially if the important deep sleep phase is disturbed by the sleep disorder.


If you can't sleep through the night and wake up in the middle of the night, simply use an eye pillow. It optimally supports falling asleep again. It provides the necessary darkness and promotes the renewed lowering of the heart and breathing rate by activating the oculocardial reflex.


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