Understanding REM Sleep

When we fall asleep, our brain goes through 5 different phases of sleep. They are the drowsy phase, light sleep phase, mediocre sleep phase, deep sleep phase and the rapid eye movement or REM sleep.

When in the REM phase, our eyes move rapidly in various directions and usually, we enter this phase within the first 2 hours of falling asleep. It is the key phase in our sleep cycle, for a variety of reasons that shall be explored further.

As we continue sleeping and the cycle repeats at night, REM sleep takes place multiple times during the night. 

Things to know:

  • During REM sleep, our brain is active and aware
  • It may help consolidate our memories
  • It can enhance creativity and problem solving
  • Consuming alcohol and caffeine can disrupt it
  • It is the phase where dreams are vivid
  • It’s the sleep stage right before waking up

The importance of REM sleep

REM sleep has many benefits for our body and mind

It helps develop the brain. When in this stage, our brain and body go through a number of changes. These include increased heart rate, breathing rate, increased oxygen consumption by the brain, sexual arousal, brain activity that’s similar to when awake, etc. During this stage, our memories are sharpened and retained better, and in children, the cognition skills develop and improve. A study showed that neuron networks strengthen during REM sleep as well. As a result, your brain develops and becomes stronger.

It helps enhance creativity. When in this stage, our bodies are stimulated and active. There is more activity in the visual, motor and emotional region of the brain. This emotional and visual stimulation, clubbed with stronger neuron networks for the brain help strengthen the creative and emotional parts of the brain. So when someone asks you to sleep on a problem, it’ll help you immensely!

Less REM sleep may cause health problems. Research shows that lack of REM sleep can lead to reduced coping skills, which is a problem when we’re stressed or anxious. Moreover, it can also lead to a reduced immunity and we may also suffer from more migraines and mood swings.

REM sleep is a key phase in our sleep cycle

REM sleep is a key and we should do our best to improve it and experience it when sleeping. Sleep is important for our body and mind, and it helps us recharge and feel refreshed for the next day. Sleeping better and improving food habits to sleep better will help with REM sleep also!

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