May 2023 | Eurobio


Sleep is a critical part of our lives, and it is important for us to understand the sleep cycle to ensure that we are getting enough restful sleep. On average, every adult gets less than seven hours of sleep every night. Therefore, good sleep hygiene will ensure we feel refreshed and recharged and well rested for the next day. Poor sleep hygiene can lead to a range of negative health effects, such as daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. 

Getting enough sleep is essential for maintaining optimal health and well-being. Having good quality sleep may help to prevent a range of health issues, cope with stress and recover from illness, just like the benefits of regular exercise and a balanced diet. Even one night of short sleep can affect you the next day. Without sufficient rest, you are more likely to feel sleepy, be in a bad mood, be less productive at work and be involved in accidents. 

In this article, we will explore the different stages of the sleep cycle, what happens during each stage and how to develop a healthy sleep cycle. 

What is sleep cycle? 

A sleep cycle is a series of events that occur during the course of a night’s sleep. Over the course of the night, there are several rounds of the sleep cycle, which typically compose of four individual stages.  

What are the stages of sleep?

To understand how we sleep, first we have to understand the sleep cycle. Our body cycles through two phases of sleep: the rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. NREM is further divided into three stages, which are N1-N3 respectively. Each phase and stage of sleep includes variations in muscle tone, brain wave patterns and eye movements. The sleep cycle typically lasts around 90 minutes, and we go through four to six cycles of NREM and REM sleep each night. 

  • Stage 1

    During the N1 stage, our brains begin to relax and everything starts to slow down, including your eye movement and muscle activity as we transit from wakefulness to sleep. This stage lasts for only 5-10 minutes. 

  • Stage 2

    N2 stage is where we spend the majority of our sleep time. During this period of light sleep, our brain activity and heart rate slows down, eye movement stops and body temperature drops as our body prepares itself into the deep sleep phase. During this period our muscles are experiencing periods of muscle contraction and muscle relaxation.  

  • Stage 3 

    This last stage of NREM sleep is also known as the deep sleep stage. During deep sleep, our brain produces very slow brain waves, with no eye movement and our muscles relax completely. It is very difficult to wake someone up while they are in the deep sleep stage, and if we are awoken, we may feel disoriented for a few minutes. This is the most restorative stage of sleep.
    During these three NREM sleep, our body repairs and regenerates tissues, builds muscle and bones and strengthens the immune system.

  • Stage 4 

    The final stage of the sleep cycle is REM sleep, which is characterized by rapid eye movements and vivid dreams. During this stage we will experience rapid eye movement, our brain activity increases again with less deeper sleep and is associated with intense dreams. Our major muscles that control our arms and legs become temporarily paralyzed to prevent us from acting out our dreams. REM sleep is believed to be important for memory consolidation and emotional regulation. 

understand what is happenning during sleep cycle

What affects our sleep stages and sleep quality? 

Sleep is affected by both internal and external factors. Poor sleep quality will result in sleep deprivation and will have a negative impact on our health, even if we are getting long hours of sleep.  

Several factors can affect the different stages of our sleep cycle and also our sleep quality. These factors include: 

  • Stress

    Stress is a common culprit in sleep deprivation as stress will cause people to worry and have difficulty relaxing which ultimately keep them awake throughout the night. 

  • Mental health issues

    People with mental health issues will suffer from nighttime anxiety and these anxious thoughts can prevent them from falling asleep. Mental health issues might also lead to more disturbing dreams or nightmares, making it a problem for them to stay asleep as well. 

  • Physical pain

    Pain, especially back pain and neck pain while lying down can be uncomfortable and disrupt sleep quality. The pain may also cause you to wake up at night.   

  • Lighting

    Lights, either natural daylight or artificial lights can affect sleep quality because light signals our body that it is time to be awake while darkness signals that it is time for our body to rest. Exposure to lights at the wrong time will affect our normal circadian rhythm, which is our body’s internal clock, thus affecting sleep quality. 

  • Poor sleeping environment

    Our sleep quality will be affected by poor sleeping environments such as noise, unfavorable temperature and lack of comfort. 

  • Medications and substances 

    Certain medications that are used to treat illnesses may affect sleep quality as they may cause insomnia. Some substances such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, can interfere with sleep patterns and the different stages of our sleep cycle. 

How to have a healthier sleep cycle? 

To have a healthier sleep cycle, first we have to practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that promote healthy sleep patterns and help individuals to get a good night’s rest.  

Good sleep hygiene practices include: 

  • Establishing consistent sleep patterns by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can lead to a better sleeping quality as it helps to regulate our body’s internal clock. Plan bedtime and wake-up time and stick to that every day. 
  • Creating a comfortable sleeping environment by ensuring the room is dark, cool and quiet can help reduce distractions and promote relaxation. 
  • Avoid certain activities and substances that can interfere with sleep. Avoid taking caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and avoid using electronic devices such as mobile phones and tablets to promote better sleep quality. 
  • Regular exercise can help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. However we should avoid strenuous physical activity late in the evening. 
  • Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine. Relaxing activities such as taking a warm bath, reading a book or listening to soft music can help in relaxation and prepares the body for sleep.

reading a book as a relaxing bedtime routine 

The sleep cycle is a complex series of events that occurs and repeats during the course of a night’s sleep. By understanding the different stages of the sleep cycle, we can prioritize good sleep hygiene habits to ensure that our body and mind receive the restorative benefits of a good night’s sleep. 

Sometimes, it may be difficult for you to fall asleep due to stress and worries about work, family or other issues.  There are some supplements that may help you to relax, to help you get better sleep.  It is best to get advice for a healthcare professional if you think you need help with improving your sleep quality, or if you continue to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep that it has interfered with your daily activities and ability to perform tasks.  

A good quality sleep can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. We can feel more energized, focused, and productive throughout the day when we get enough restful sleep each night. So prioritize having good quality sleep is very important for our overall well-being. 



  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 19). Are you getting enough sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 5, 2023, from  
  • MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Why is sleep important? 9 reasons for getting a good night’s rest. Medical News Today. Retrieved May 8, 2023, from
  • Zwarensteyn, J. (2022, December 16). 12 factors affecting sleep and your sleep quality. Sleep Advisor. Retrieved May 3, 2023, from,and%20alcohol%2C%20and%20certain%20foods.

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The elbow joint is one of the most complex and frequently used joints in the body. It is responsible for the movement of the forearm, wrist, and hand. Although in general, the elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear damage than other joints, it is still a common issue that affects people of all ages, from athletes to office workers.  

Understanding the different types of elbow pain, their causes, and how to manage them is crucial for maintaining good elbow health. In this post, we will be discussing the common causes of elbow pain and how to prevent and manage elbow pain.  

What is elbow pain?

Elbow pain or elbow disorder is a condition that affects the elbow joint and the surrounding structures, including the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It is characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced range of motion in the elbow joint. Elbow pain is often caused by overuse or repeated pressure on the tendons near the elbow joint. When these tissues are overloaded, it can cause pain around the elbow especially when using our hands and wrist. Many sports, hobbies and work require repetitive hand, wrist or arm movement which may cause the elbow to be overused. Occasionally elbow pain may also be caused by arthritis.

Causes of elbow pain

There are several causes of elbow pain. Each of them has its cause and symptoms. Most cases of elbow pain are due to strained or inflamed soft tissues such as tendons or ligaments.

The most common type of elbow pain include:

  • Tennis elbow

    Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis. It is a condition caused by the overuse or repeated actions of the muscle of the forearm, near the elbow joint. People with tennis elbow may experience pain on the outside of the elbow, especially when they are trying to lift or grip an object.

    tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is an elbow pain condition

  • Golfer’s elbow

    Golfer’s elbow is also known as medial epicondylitis. It is a form of tendonitis that causes pain and inflammation in the tendons connecting your forearm and elbow. It can be caused by the overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons especially during repeated actions that require the usage of your wrist and arm to bend, grasp or twist objects. Pain can be felt on the inside of the elbow, and they may experience tingling and numbness on the hand and reduced grip strength. 

  • Elbow arthritis

    Elbow arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the elbow becomes worn or damaged due to injury, fracture or overuse due to age. People with elbow arthritis may experience symptoms such as pain, stiffness or a decreased range of motion, swelling, tenderness or redness in the elbow joint.

  • Elbow bursitis

    Elbow bursitis is a condition caused by the inflammation of the olecranon bursa, which is the fluid-filled sac that surrounds and protects your bones, tendons and muscles in the elbow joint. Elbow bursitis can occur during any sporting event that requires you to do repetitive motions and also for those who spend a lot of time in positions that put pressure on your elbows such as resting their elbow on a hard surface when typing on a computer keyboard. Elbow bursitis is also known as “student’s elbow”.

    elbow bursitis or student’s elbow is an elbow pain condition

  • Elbow dislocation

    The elbow is composed of three bones. Elbow dislocation happens when any of these bones become separated or knocked out of place, usually as a result of a traumatic injury. Elbow dislocation can cause severe pain, swelling and instability of the elbow joint and sometimes even restriction of movement. It will also damage the surrounding muscles and nerves. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are experiencing elbow dislocation.

How is elbow pain diagnosed and treated?

Elbow pain is diagnosed by a healthcare professional, such as an orthopaedic specialist to examine your elbow and discuss the symptoms and how the injury occurs. They will take a thorough medical history, perform a physical examination, and may order imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. The diagnosis will depend on the underlying cause of the elbow pain, which can be determined by these tests. 

The treatment for elbow pain will depend on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In general, treatment options may include: 

  • Rest 

    Resting the elbow and avoiding activities that aggravate the pain can help alleviate the symptoms. It is best to restrict and modify daily activity to allow the ligaments to heal.

  • Ice therapy

    Applying ice to the affected area to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Compression

    Try using compression pads on the affected area to help support the elbow and decrease swelling.

    compression pads to treat elbow pain

  • Elevate

    Raise the arm and elevate on a cushion, high table or other type of platform which will provide pain relieve and reduce swelling. 

  • Medications

    When needed, anti-inflammatory medications can be used to manage pain and inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids which contain anti-inflammatory properties may also be a good alternative for elbow pain.

  • Physical therapy 

    Physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility in the elbow joint.

  • Surgery 

    In some cases, where the ligaments have been severely torn, surgery may be needed to repair or replace damaged structures in the elbow joint. 

How to prevent elbow pain?

Although elbow injuries are common, there are several things that we can do to prevent it and reduce our chances of getting an elbow injury: 

  • Always warm up before exercise and cool down thoroughly to prepare the muscle and joints for activity. 
  • As one of the most common causes of elbow pain is overuse of the joint, we should try to avoid repetitive activities that will strain the elbow joint. Take regular breaks during repetitive activities to rest the elbow joint and prevent overuse. 
  • Using proper technique during exercises or activities can avoid unnecessary stress on the elbow joint. 
  • Wear elbow pads or other protective gear when engaging in activities that might cause injuries to your elbow joint. 
  • Excess weight can put extra strain on the elbow joint, so maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent joint problems. 
  • Do strengthening exercises with hand weights, to help strengthen the muscles around the elbow joint to help prevent injury and reduce the risk of developing elbow pain.
    strengthening exercises to help prevent elbow pain
  • Maintaining good posture can prevent the elbow from unnecessary pressure that will cause joint problems. 
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most commonly used supplements to support joint health and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fatty fish may help reduce inflammation and support joint health. 

After any elbow problem, it is important to get movement and strength back. This supports tissue healing and will help you get moving again. Although you may not be able to return to your usual exercise levels and routine immediately, a slow start with appropriate exercises is the best way to help you gradually return to your normal life to get good short and long term results after an elbow problem. 

Most cases of elbow pain will get better on their own or with simple self-help treatments. However if you experience persistent or severe elbow pain, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.  

In conclusion, elbow pain can be a frustrating and debilitating condition. Understanding the different types of elbow pain, their causes, and how to manage them is crucial for maintaining good elbow health. 



  1. Department of Health & Human Services. (2003, April 14). Elbow pain. Better Health Channel. Retrieved April 22, 2023, from
  2. How to Treat Elbow Arthritis. (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2023, from
  3. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, May 1). Golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) – mayo clinic orthopedics & sports medicine. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 23, 2023, from

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