We are regularly told we all need 8 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately this is rarely achieved, so we have looked at exactly why 8 hours is the recommended amount of sleep we should all be getting. By examining what happens at every stage of the sleep cycle, we explore the ins and outs of how our body and brain get through the night. We look at how 8 hours of sleep helps us to recover from the exercise of the day before and get ready for a new day, fully refreshed and ready to tackle any new challenge.

What happens to your body during 8 hours sleep infographic

What Happens to An Athlete’s Body During 8 Hours of Sleep? – Transcript

We are told that 8 hours’ sleep is what we should all aim to get every night, but why? Here we look at exactly what happens to your body through the night and how athletes benefit from a good night sleep.

Stage 1 (Lasts 1-7 minutes, 5% of the night)

–          Between being awake and falling asleep

–          Light sleep

Stage 2 (Lasts 10-25 minutes, 45% of the night)

–          Onset of sleep

–          Becoming disengaged from surroundings

–          Breathing and heart rate are regular

–          Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)

Stage 3 (Lasts 20-40 minutes, 25% of the night)

–          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

Stage 4 ‘REM’ – (Lasts 10-60 minutes, 25% of the night)

REM (25% of night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night

–          Provides energy to brain and body

–          Supports daytime performance

–          Brain