A Happy Medium - How Much Sleep is the Perfect Amount for Me?

The perfect amount – four stages of sleep

Fully charged and ready for action! Whether it's a busy Monday or an eventful Saturday, each day promises its own set of challenges, opportunities and possibilities. Mark Twain managed to sum this up with a quote that still holds true today: "Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life." It's an inspiring call to start your mornings cheerful and well-rested. But how can we feel more alert when we wake up? How much sleep do we really need and which sleep stages do we naturally go through night after night? We've done a bit of research and stumbled across some interesting findings! 

Sleep is the ultimate remedy - how much you need to be happy

Our bodies need sleep to survive, and the amount of sleep we're getting plays a major role in determining our overall sense of well-being. Poor sleep quality or not sleeping for long enough can leave us more susceptible to depression, infections, weight gain and high blood pressure. 

This is why we often wonder if we're getting the right amount of shuteye, long after we've prised ourselves out of bed in the morning – still exhausted after hitting the snooze button for the umpteenth time. And, as it turns out, researchers and sleep experts are just as fascinated with this question. The National Sleep Foundation carried out a study based on over two years of research. It concluded that young adults aged 18 to 25 and adults aged 26 to 64 need approximately seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Older adults aged 65 and over should wake up feeling refreshed after seven to eight hours of sleep. However, there are also different kinds of sleepers, according to Andreas Eger, head of the centre for sleep medicine. Unlike long sleepers, short sleepers only require up to six hours of sleep and aren't any less alert in the mornings. It's the proportion of time you spend in deep sleep that determines this! 

Sleep as a cycle – the four valuable stages 

In addition to the amount of time we spend sleeping, it's the individual sleep stages we go through during the night that play a significant role in determining the quality of our sleep. There are four sleep stages in total, which combine to form a sleep cycle lasting 70 to 110 minutes. This repeats several times during the night and consists of three non-REM stages (REM = Rapid Eye Movement) and one REM stage. It starts with a drifting off phase, then progresses from light sleep to deep sleep and ends with REM sleep, which is also known as the dream phase. 

Stage 1 – falling asleep

In this drowsy stage, which makes up about 10% of our repetitive sleep cycle, our body begins to relax. Since the thought centre of our brains winds down more quickly than the part that controls our movements and muscles, we may occasionally experience jerky muscle movements in our limbs during this time. We're sleeping so lightly during this stage that any noises or sudden lighting changes can easily wake us up and jolt us out of our state of relaxation.

Stage 2 – light sleep

As we drift into light sleep, our body temperature drops, our breathing deepens and our heart rate slows down – our body descends into a deeper state of relaxation. Around now, our brain begins to process the things we experienced during the day. However, we're still sleeping quite lightly at this point, so we wake up much more often. Lasting around 30 to 60 minutes, this stage makes up about half of our entire sleep cycle.

Stage 3 – deep sleep

The light sleep stage is followed by deep sleep, which makes up about 20% of our sleep cycle. This stage is especially important for our minds and bodies, because we achieve the deepest state of physical relaxation during this time. In the deep sleep stage, our bodies are focussed entirely on regeneration. Our breathing is rhythmic and slow, while all our brain and muscle activity is reduced to a minimum. We have a lower body temperature. During this stage, our bodies get to rest and generate new energy. A detoxification process occurs and our immune systems get a boost. Since this time is so essential for us, we sleep particularly deeply during this stage, which means it’s not easy to wake us up. 

Stage 4

Following on from deep sleep, we enter the REM stage, which makes up about 20% of our total sleep cycle. During this stage, we dream very intensely, which is why REM is often known as the dream phase. Our brain frequency greatly accelerates while we're dreaming: we process information and emotions during this time, transferring short-term memories to our long-term memory. We typically experience rapid eye movements under our closed eyelids. Hence the name "rapid eye movement". Our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes faster and shallower. Meanwhile, we continue to experience reduced muscle activity. Our bodies are almost motionless during this stage, ensuring we don't act out any of our dreams while we're sleeping. This helps to protect us against injuries.

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Prioritising – cultivate and improve your sleeping habits

Getting enough sleep isn't really something you can just leave up to fate. Too much screen time while you're drifting off, an uncomfortable bed or drinking loads of caffeinated beverages during the day can all stand in your way when you're trying to get a good night's kip. These factors can reduce the amount of time you spend asleep, as well as the quality of your individual sleep stages, making it almost impossible for you to wake up feeling refreshed. That's why it's so important to prioritise nightly rest and make sure you're giving yourself the best send off into the land of Nod.

If you want to put sleep first and get the most from each stage of your sleep cycle, then it's essential to create a comfortable sleeping environment. Switching to high-quality luxury bedding can really make all the difference here! It's just so much easier to sleep on a soft sheet while wrapped in luxurious bed linen. The kind of high-quality organic bedding we offer here at Royfort is the perfect way to optimise your sleeping experience, ensuring that you wake up each morning feeling more well-rested than ever before. Royfort bedding is made from soft cotton with a smooth satin weave. This means that it caresses your body in the most delightful way while you drift off into a deep, peaceful sleep. You'll find yourself so captivated by this feeling that going to bed will become one of your greatest joys and, as a result, you’ll naturally prioritise your own well-being.

"Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life" by ensuring you get the night's sleep you both need and deserve. Sleeping in Royfort bed linen is the best way to wake up feeling refreshed, full of energy and ready for a brand-new day.

About the author

Clara Neunzig is a passionate writer about interior. She has been working in the home & living sector since 2012.