Tips for great sleep

How Much Light Sleep is Right

August 29th, 2016

An even balance of REM, deep and light sleep is most likely within the healthy range, provided you are getting enough sleep in total and feel rested throughout the day. Memory consolidation happens in all stages of sleep to a degree, so you’re covered.

Your individual sleep architecture

Everyone has a unique blend of the time spent in each stage of sleep; it’s really a personal thing. The most important factor is how rested you feel after waking and throughout the day. If you find yourself catching up on sleep on the weekends, this is a sign your current sleeping schedule isn’t sustainable or truly adequate to meet your body’s needs.

Sleep spindles and memory

Memory consolidation does happen during light sleep and is associated with sleep spindles, bursts of activity in the brain that first appear during Stage 2 sleep. Spindles in sleep may be a measure of intellectual ability, which is one of the best excuses we’ve ever heard to take an afternoon nap [LO1]

Different memories, different sleep stages

However, memory consolidation also occurs in REM sleep and deep sleep. There are two broad types of memory, declarative and procedural. Different sleep stages appear to be associated with the processing of different kinds of memory:

    • Declarative memory, which is about facts and personal experiences, may be processed more strongly in the first half of the night when we spend most of our sleep in deep and light sleep stages.
    • Procedural memory, on the other hand, is about processes and skills – how to do things. Procedural memory appears to become more of a focus in the second half of the night, when we spend more time in REM mixed with light sleep
    • In addition, hormones may play a big role in memory processing. Throughout the night, levels of the hormone cortisol increase, which appears to help with overall memory processing during sleep.
    • Finally, dreaming of a particular task may make a difference in future performance. This 2010 study found that subjects who dreamed of a maze had better recall compared to those who napped but did not recall a dream.

So while many non-sleep factors influence the memory formation process, each sleep stage does play an important role as brain transfers information from short-term to long-term memory.

* ResMed recorded and analysed 2,000,000 nights of sleep in the development of S+

** Users with average sleep scores between 50-60 improved their sleep by an average of 44.71 minutes per night after one week of use.

*** Below average users are those with an average sleep score below 75. Poor sleep is defined as an average sleep score between 50-60. Very poor sleep is defined as an average sleep score between 30-50. Users with average sleep scores between 30-50 improved their sleep by more than 70 minutes per night after one week of use. Aggregate S+ user data as of 03/19/2015. All data is derived from a sample size of [5932] users as of 03/19/2015. Your results may be different.

Note: S+ is not a medical device. If you are seeking information on how to treat a sleep disorder, you should talk to your healthcare provider.