We’re all familiar with the idea of REM sleep. Whether you’ve read about it in a book or seen it in a movie, we all have an idea of what REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is: the stage of deep slumber when our bodies are still but our minds are active. However, it’s important to understand that REM sleep is only one part of the complex cycle that makes up our sleep patterns — and even then, there’s some debate as to whether or not it’s relevant to adults. In this article, we’ll explore things that exactly happen during REM sleep so that you can better understand the way your body functions while sleeping.
What is REM sleep?
REM sleep is a stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement. It can also be called paradoxical sleep because it occurs during the latter half of your night’s slumber, with little to no evidence of dreaming at first. You’ll know you’re in REM when you see those wild dreams that sneak up on you and end up making sense only in retrospect.
REM plays a key role in memory processing, as well as mood regulation and cardiovascular function. Your body requires several hours of quiet time so that it can absorb information and process memories from the day before—a phase known as slow wave sleep (SWS). After about 90 minutes or so, your brain will start producing fast electrical signals in preparation for REM. That’s when your eyes start moving rapidly back and forth under closed eyelids: they’re acting out everything going on inside your head! Your heart rate may increase slightly during this phase too due to mild muscle twitches throughout the body (you might feel like stretching).
Also Read: Best Sleep Positions and Why?
How does REM sleep happen?
REM sleep can occur in cycles, with each cycle lasting about 90 minutes. The first three to four REM cycles happen in the second half of your night’s sleep and are followed by brief periods of non-REM deep sleep (stage three and stage four).
During REM sleep, your breathing rate increases and becomes irregular. Your heart rate also speeds up to 120 beats per minute or more—sometimes even faster than when you’re awake! These changes make sense if you think about the importance for your brain to get oxygen during this time.
Your eyes move rapidly back and forth under their eyelids during REM sleep—so much so that they look like they’re darting around behind closed lids! This movement is called rapid eye movement (REM). It’s believed that our brains process information during this stage as well as a dream; while dreaming occurs most often during REM, it can also happen during other stages too.
Difference between REM sleep and normal sleep?
REM sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement, is a period of sleep that is characterized by rapid eye movements and dreaming. This type of sleep also happens during your first cycle of sleep. In fact, it’s when you’re most likely to dream. You go through four stages of sleep: REM, light or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) 1 and 2 stages, and deep sleep (also known as slow-wave).
REM is also known as paradoxical sleep because your brain acts in ways similar to when it’s awake even though your body appears paralyzed. In fact, the name “paradoxical” was coined by French doctor Marie Bonaparte in 1900 after she discovered that patients who suffered from paralysis were able to move their eyes while sleeping—the first evidence that there was more going on than just muscle relaxation during this particular stage of slumber.
Why is it important?
REM sleep is important for several reasons. First, it helps you consolidate memories in your brain. Second, it helps you process emotional experiences. Third, it allows you to practice new skills and behaviors, which is important for learning.
REM sleep is important because it helps the brain process emotional experiences. In REM sleep, the amygdala and hippocampus—which are involved in emotion and memory processing—are more active than they are during other stages of sleep. This means that REM sleep helps us process our emotions and memories better.
REM sleep is critical for learning and memory consolidation. REM sleep also helps reduce stress and regulate emotions.
One of the most important functions of REM sleep is that it allows us to process information from our waking hours and store it in long-term memory. In fact, it’s thought that as much as 95% of what we learn during the day is consolidated during REM sleep.
Things that happen during the time of REM sleep
- Body movement
- Heart rate and breathing
- Eye movement
- Body temperature
- Blood pressure and blood flow
- Breathing patterns, including apnea (when you stop breathing for a short period of time) or hypopnea (when your breathing slows down)
How much do we need REM sleep?
The average person needs about two hours of REM sleep per night. This amount varies from person to person, but if you’re getting less than that every night, it could be affecting your ability to function during the day.
REM sleep helps us process memories, which is why people who don’t get enough REM sleep often report having trouble remembering things. It also helps us process emotions related to those memories and allows us to deal with stressful situations in our lives more effectively.
REM sleep is also associated with creativity. In fact, some studies suggest that you can improve your ability to come up with creative ideas by taking naps during the day or indulging in an afternoon siesta!
The benefits of REM sleep don’t stop there: several studies have found links between adequate levels of this type of rest and better mental health, physical health and stress management skills too.
Effects of low REM sleep
REM sleep is important for a number of reasons, but one of its most notable functions is that it helps you to process and consolidate memories. This means that if you sleep for too short a period at night, or don’t get enough REM sleep, it can lead to:
- Memory problems that impair your ability to learn new things
- Neurological problems such as depression and anxiety disorders
- Headaches or migraines (caused by low oxygen levels)
In other words, if you don’t get adequate amounts of this type of sleep every night, you’ll probably end up feeling tired and sluggish during the day—and not in a good way.
How Sleep Disorders are connected With REM Sleep?
There are a number of sleep disorders that can be associated with REM sleep. These include:
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)
- REM Behavior Disorder (RBD)
- Narcolepsy (falling asleep)
- Sleep Paralysis (Also known as Incubus or Nightmare Disorder)
- Sleep Apnea
REM sleep is a stage of the sleep cycle where your body and mind are active, but you’re not aware of what’s going on. It is also known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep because your eyes move back and forth quickly during this period. The average person spends 20% of their total sleeping time in REM, so it’s important to understand the way this process works.