A short guide on how to interpret your ‘sleep stages’ graph

Throughout the course of a night, you’ll sleep through four to six sleep cycles. Within each of these cycles, you’ll move through different stages of sleep – essentially between a light sleep phase to a deep sleep phase.  The ‘Sleep Stage’ function in the app gives a comprehensive picture of your overall sleep and can tell if there are factors, such as external noise, coughing, snoring or similar that are interfering with your sleep. Unlocking sleep patterns is a powerful tool in understanding your overall health and any underlying sleep disorder.


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Sleep Cycle’s ‘Sleep Stages’ explained

Our sleep patterns are unique and you’ll likely find that the time you spend in different sleep stages can vary from one night to the next. Sleep Cycle’s analysis will give you an overview of your sleep cycles and provide insights into the sleep stages included.  After each completed sleep session, a graph with your sleep analysis, will illustrate your sleep stages.

Sleep Cycle’s ‘Sleep Stage’ graph shows you:

  • The time displayed on the x-axis as the sleep stages take place during the course of a sleep session. 
  • Three different stages of sleep:
    1. Awake: Being awake is part of sleep too. The graph will show when the app registers you as awake. The time it takes to fall asleep will reveal your sleep efficiency over time. And during the night it is perfectly normal to drift between light sleep and moments of wakefulness. 
    2. Sleep: The light sleep stage of your sleep can have similar movement patterns to when you’re awake. It’s typically a stage that is easier to be woken up from and linked to when the Smart Alarm will wake you up, to avoid that ‘groggy’ feeling. 
    3. Deep Sleep: During deep sleep, your body relaxes to the point of going ‘limp’. Being disturbed or awakened at this time can lead to a disoriented state. If you experience that you’re sleeping a good amount of time each night, but still not waking up feeling rested, keeping an eye on your graph to see if there’s any disturbance during your deep sleep can be extremely helpful.

How does Sleep Cycle detect your sleep stages? 

Sleep Cycle monitors your sleep stages through the sounds made by your movement. A combination of your movements and sounds elicited will indicate a light sleep phase, whilst the algorithms will interpret limited or no sounds from movement as a deep sleep stage. 

It’s important to bear in mind that for a comprehensive sleep stage analysis that also shows your REM sleep, a clinical setting and sleep lab is best suited to provide this level of detail. However, to get immediate insight into your sleep patterns, using Sleep Cycle presents an affordable and convenient way to track your sleep.  If you suspect a serious sleep disorder, you should always consult a medical professional.

Your recorded sounds

All sounds, such as coughing, snoring, sleep talking and so on are captured and recorded across the timeline of your sleep graph. If you have sounds recorded, a vertical line will appear on the graph which can be moved across the timeline to let you see the stage and the time that your sleep was impacted.

Heart Rate on your sleep graph

If you have an iPhone and are using a smartband/watch that is synced to Apple Health, you can also activate heart rate readings on your sleep analysis. This will show as a red line on the graph and track your heart rate during the night. If you’re seeing changes in frequency and swings between high or low rates during sleep at irregular intervals, this is information that you may want to share with your physician.

Why is it helpful to understand your sleep patterns? 

Each sleep stage serves a purpose in providing us with quality rest. If you’re not feeling fully rested after a night of sleep, it is well worth understanding if something is disturbing your sleep. We often don’t realize there may be room for improvement until we start analyzing our sleep. Many of our user’s report that Eureka moment, when they realize their partner’s snoring (or their own) is keeping them from getting a good night’s rest. Knowledge of your sleep patterns can also help towards a diagnosis of chronic sleep problems and underlying health conditions.  

Unlock your sleep patterns by downloading the app and viewing your nightly sleep analysis. The proof is in the (recorded) pudding.

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