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A lot happens in our body while we sleep. When we sleep, we cycle between REM and non-REM sleep.

When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our daily activities. Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life.

There are two main types of sleep:

1. Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep (also known as quiet sleep) (75% of night)

As we begin to fall asleep, we enter NREM sleep, which is composed of stages 1-4, each deeper than the last.

2. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep (also known as active sleep) (25% of night)

REM sleep occurs when you do most active dreaming. Your eyes actually move back and forth during this stage, which is why it is called Rapid Eye Movement sleep.

There are five stages of sleep:

- Usually sleepers pass through five stages: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. 
- First four stages are Non REM sleep. Fifth stage is REM sleep. 
- These stages progress cyclically from 1 through 5 then begin again with stage 1. 
- A complete sleep cycle takes an average of 90 to 110 minutes. 

Stage 1 - Transition to Sleep (Non-REM):

- This stage lasts about five minutes.
- Your eyes move slowly under the eyelids, muscle activity slows down, and you are easily awakened.

Stage 2 - Light Sleep (Non-REM): 

- This is the first stage of true sleep, lasting from 10 to 25 minutes. 
- Your eye movement stops, heart rate slows, and body temperature decreases.

Stage 3 and 4 - Deep Sleep (Non-REM):

- Deepest and most restorative sleep.
- Blood pressure drops.
- Breathing becomes slower.
- Muscles are relaxed.
- Blood supply to muscles increases.
- Tissue growth and repair occurs.
- Energy is restored.
- Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development.
- You are difficult to awaken, and if you are awakened, you do not adjust immediately and often feel groggy and disoriented for several minutes. 

Stage 5 - Dream Sleep (REM Sleep):

- Provides energy to brain and body.
- Supports daytime performance
- Brain is active and dreams occur. 
- Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off. 
- Dream sleep occurs about 70 to 90 minutes after falling asleep when you enter REM sleep. 
- Your eyes move rapidly, your breathing shallows, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. 
- Also during this stage, your arm and leg muscles are paralyzed.

For bodybuilders and people who want to lose fat, sleep is incredibly important because:

- It enhances muscular recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. 
- It restores brain function and alertness in preparation for intense training sessions.
- It gives you the necessary energy needed for another day in the gym.

The importance of sleep should not be overlooked! Recovery will take a backward step if you do not prioritize sleep, so get to sleep if you want faster and better results.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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