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Celebrating World Sleep Day

By The Rescue® Team

This coming Friday, 18 March, is World Sleep Day. While we wish this meant a national public holiday to catch up on some rest, it is the next best thing: a day dedicated to promoting quality sleep, sound minds and a happy world (as the slogan goes!).

In honour of the 15th World Sleep Day themes, let's focus on:

  • The components of "quality sleep"
  • How sleep affects mental health, mood, and decision-making


 What makes quality sleep?

A quality night of sleep will typically consist of four to six cycles with sufficient time spent in stages three and four – let's break that down.

A sleep cycle lasts for 90 minutes on average, with cycles usually increasing in length throughout the night. Cycles consist of three NREM stages (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) followed by REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement).

Cycle stage





Approx. duration

1 to 5 minutes

10 to 60 minutes

20 to 40 minutes

10 to 60 minutes


The ‘dozing off’ period. You may drift in and out of sleep and might experience sudden twitches called hypnic jerks.

Your brain waves begin to slow. You are less alert to external stimuli than in stage 1. Roughly half your cycle is spent in stage 2. 

Called ‘slow wave sleep’, Delta brain waves kick in here. Now’s when your body does most of its restoring. Being woken up during NREM 3 can make you feel very groggy.

Your body is in a 'paralysed' state, except for your eyes which move quickly from side to side. REM sleep helps restore the brain and is when dreaming most often occurs. 

Stage 3 and REM sleep are the most important for waking up feeling refreshed, though undisturbed stages 1 and 2 are crucial for getting to that quality sleep. Your sleep cycle can be affected by your age (with older people experiencing less REM on average), your recent sleep habits, alcohol or other stimulants consumed, and your sleep environment. 


You can help improve the quality of your sleep by practising sleep hygiene, namely:

  • Creating a dark, quiet and clean sleep environment
  • Avoiding stimulants in the hours approaching sleep
  • Aiming for a consistent sleep routine and bedtime


How can sleep affect my mood and decision making?

A lack of sleep can make you irritable, reduce cognitive ability and lower emotional resilience. You're not yourself when you're tired! When you don't get enough sleep, you build up a 'sleep debt' – the difference between the hours of sleep your body needed, and the amount your body got.

You can 'pay off' your debt by sleeping in or taking naps, but doing too much catch up at once can reinforce irregular sleep patterns. Aim to sleep off your debt in 15 to 30-minute nap increments, or by sleeping in for an extra 30 minutes or so when you can. If you're constantly feeling under-slept, speak to your doctor about ways to manage and possibly explore whether you have a sleep disorder like insomnia. 

A lack of sleep can lead to:

  • Reduced attention span
  • Reduced alertness
  • Impaired judgement
  • Increased likelihood of mistakes
  • Forgetfulness
  • A 'short fuse' 
  • Poor mental health 

Prioritising quality sleep is a valuable effort to enjoy more from your waking hours as you're hopefully more efficient, more resilient, happier and healthier. If you're experiencing trouble falling asleep, you can try to reassess your sleep hygiene, reach out to a health care professional, and try RESCUE Sleep® for all-natural support for winding down. 

We wish you undisturbed sleep cycles and quality REM for World Sleep Day and beyond!