These are the key differences between deep and light sleep

August 11, 2020 3 mins read
These are the key differences between deep and light sleep

Have you ever been curious about what the differences are between deep vs light sleep? These two sleep phases play an essential part in our wellbeing, and one cannot exist without the other. That is why this article will help you discover the importance of deep and light sleep, how our body functions in each phase and its response to each stage of sleep.

What are the differences between deep and light sleep?

Once your head hits the pillow, and you fall asleep, light sleep follows. It begins with stage 1 and is relatively short. This is where the body starts to rest and enters the second and final stage of light sleep. At this point, your muscles are relaxed while your heartbeat and breathing become slower.

The onset of deep sleep or non REM sleep begins in stage 3, and it is at this point that brain activity quickens as the brainwaves race through the brain. This is the stage of deep sleep that you require to feel upbeat and refreshed in the morning. In stage 4, the body becomes less responsive, and you may be oblivious to your surroundings. The brain meanwhile experiences activity as it is also in a transitional cycle between light and very deep sleep.

Benefits of light sleep

When light sleep begins, which is the moment you close your eyes and succumb to sleep, it initiates the start of the sleep cycle. It prepares the body for a state of rest, triggering a series of bodily functions to regulate the body before it enters into the deep sleep stage.

Prepares the body for deep sleep

Your body effectively begins to wind down during light sleep because it has to prepare for the next step of deep sleep. It does this by slowing the heart rate and stilling the muscles.

Can make up more than half of a night’s sleep

For you to feel rejuvenated in the morning, it is essential to wake up during light sleep. Generally, your body and brain will regulate this. Light sleep takes up half of a good night’s sleep, and during that time, it helps us to process emotions, memories and aids in regulating the metabolism.

Benefits of deep sleep

Deep sleep rejuvenates, repairs and restores our body. Cells are given a new lease on life through the secretion of the human growth hormone, which stimulates cell reproduction regeneration. This is one of the reasons why getting a good night’s rest is said to make you more youthful.

Memory consolidation

Have you wondered why after staying up all night and getting minimal sleep, you struggle to think clearly and remember new things? That’s because, during deep sleep, the part of the brain responsible for memory creation and learning can revitalise itself. Sleep deprivation can take its toll on your memory, also making it difficult for you to concentrate and focus.

Boost your immune system

Our bodies produce T-cells in large amounts when we sleep so that we can fight off infections and viral attacks on the cells. These cells are particularly useful in strengthening the immune system against flu and other illnesses.

The importance of deep & light sleep

Both light and deep sleep are critical to ensuring that you are physically and mentally healthy. These sleep phases each have an essential role in maintaining balance in the body, replenishing old tissue and cells, boosting the immune system, resting the muscles and stimulating the part of the brain where memories are created and stored for learning purposes.