SEP 11, 2018 11:12 AM PDT

Are you sleeping right? The sleep stages explained

Are you having trouble sleeping? Well, you're not alone. The number of people affected by sleep problems such as sleep apnea or insomnia is startling high (4% of adults in the US take sleeping pills every month!), and given the importance of sleep, there's been a lot of research on understanding the different stages of sleep. Maybe, like me, you thought it was either all REM or... just not. But sleep stages are actually much more complex, with four specific stages that had already been described by scientists Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman at the University of Chicago by 1953. 

To start, sleep stages are categorized by the electrical activity in the brain using an EEG. In order to figure out that activity, sleeping people are monitored in a sleep center so that scientists can study how their brains change throughout the night. During the first two stages of sleep, known as light sleep, the frequencies seen on an EEG show low amplitude and high frequency waves (Stage 1) and, later sleep spindles and K-complex (Stage 2). Spindles are important for deciding which memories stay in our brains after the day and which get tossed. After Stage 2, we enter into Stage 3, which is known as deep sleep and is especially important to overall restfulness. Want to know what Stage 4 is for? Watch the video to find out!

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2020
Plants & Animals
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
JUL 15, 2020
New Research Reveals Beluga Whale Social Networks
The familial and social relationships between whales, such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins, are moderately understood. ...
JUL 16, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Turbulence: A Treat for Both Eyes and Minds
JUL 16, 2020
Turbulence: A Treat for Both Eyes and Minds
What do the air inside your lung, the tap water in pipes, the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and the hurricane over the Atla ...
JUL 29, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Molecular Footloose: Carbon Monoxide Molecules "Square Dance" with Each Other
JUL 29, 2020
Molecular Footloose: Carbon Monoxide Molecules "Square Dance" with Each Other
The act of "dancing" is not limited to humans, as scientists recently discovered. According to a group of Holl ...
AUG 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Magnetic Field Changing Faster than Previously Thought
AUG 10, 2020
Earth's Magnetic Field Changing Faster than Previously Thought
The Earth's magnetic field is crucial for life on Earth. Generated by the molten iron core 3000 km beneath our plane ...
OCT 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
OCT 01, 2020
Four Lakes Detected Under Martian Surface
  Researchers from Roma Tre University in Italy have confirmed the existence of four large lakes under the ice at M ...
NOV 06, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
NOV 06, 2020
The Most Powerful X-ray Source On Earth
Located inside the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Z Pulsed Power Facility (or Z Machine) i ...
Loading Comments...