well·5 min read

Different Sleep Cycles Explained

Jun 21, 2017

The story

You spend a third of your life unconscious under the covers. Learn more about what happens to your sleep cycles when it's lights out

What do you mean?

The experts over at Casper have a team of professional sleepers (really) hard at work. They do things like wear sensors at night to help us all better understand what happens before and after we hit the pillow. Press snooze and read on.

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What did you learn?

It all starts with your circadian rhythm. Hint: not a calculus problem. This is your body’s internal 24-hour clock. It controls when you feel most tired and awake during the day. Think: when you’ve finished lunch and all you want is a nap. When you’re binge-watching “The Handmaid's Tale” at 2am and your eyes start drooping. This is your body’s signal that it’s time to turn off the laptop. Meanwhile, if you’re in a meeting and you realize you can’t remember the last two seconds, say hi to microsleep. This happens when your brain hits ‘power off’ for a quick sec when it’s not supposed to. And it’s a sign that you should spend a liiiiittle more QT with your bed. Minus Hulu.

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What can I do to get better sleep?

We have some ideas…

Start sleeping cool. If you often wake up in the middle of the night sweating like you’re in a steam room, you might be a hot sleeper, and there might be something you can do to stop it. Our core body temp drops at night. But the top layer of lots of mattresses can keep the heat near your bod. Plus, those high thread count sheets are thicker than they need to be. Pro-tip: this mattress and these sheets are made to keep you cool.

Try catching a little extra Vitamin D. When your skin is out in the sun, it starts creating its own vitamin D. Great for your tan lines. Also great for your sleep cycle. Scientists say some sunshine in your pocket helps you stay alert during the day and snooze at night.

Try constructive rest...the easiest yoga pose there is. Lie on your back with your knees up, and with your feet flat on the ground. Congrats, you’re doing it. Seems simple, but this gets rid of tension in your hips and lower spine – and gets those ‘namaste’ vibes going right before it’s lights out.

What if I don't like to sleep on my back?

Doesn’t matter. If you’ve always thought you’re a stomach sleeper, guess what…you’re probably not. We all move around a lot while getting our zzz’s, and are never in just one sleeping position. Fun fact, almost everyone sleeps on their side at some point in the night.

So...what happens once I'm actually asleep?

Lots. Here are a couple of nap-tastic things to know...

Memory consolidation...this happens when you’re in deep sleep mode. The synapses in your brain take your important short term memories and file them away into the long term folder. That’s why it’s a good idea to hit the sheets (we like these) early the night before a big presentation.

The Falling Dream...you know the one. You're just starting to fall asleep and suddenly you're falling off a 40-story building. This is a common dream, and usually comes when there's something in your day-to-day that isn't totally stable (work, your SO, your fam).

REM: Means 'rapid eye movement.' Your brain goes through five phases during sleep. One of them is REM sleep. It usually kicks in about an hour and a half into your zzz's. It’s the time when you have your most vivid dreams. This super cozy mattress and pillow will help you get there. In case you need a little nudge, we got you a discount on the mattress.

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Anything else?

One last thing. If you’re moving in with bae, you better make sure you're sleep compatible. A quarter of couples living together say the way their SO sleeps is negatively affecting their zzz's. Snorers, sleep talkers, night owls...they don't all get along.


There’s a lot that goes on when you turn down at night. The more you know, the better chance that your zzz’s will be just dreamy.

*PS: This is an affiliate partner, which means if you purchase, theSkimm may get something in return. Thanks.

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