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REM Sleep: The Paradoxical Stage of Sleep Cycle

REM Sleep: The Paradoxical Stage of Sleep Cycle

Rapid eye movement (REMS) sleep is a distinct phase of sleeping in mammals, and in many birds and mammals, characterized by random, rhythmic, motor-eye movements of the eyes, followed by periods of wakefulness lasting several minutes. REM sleep accounts for a small percentage of total sleep time. It occurs during a state when the brain activity is “on” and the body is in a highly relaxed and inactive state, before falling asleep. The average duration of REM sleep is one to two hours, although some people do not ever get to sleep during REM sleep.

REM sleep has its roots in the evolution of the vertebrae. In humans, the rate of REM sleep varies between individuals, with young and elderly people having qualms about REM sleep. REM sleep can be activated through several means, including an alteration in environmental conditions, the presence of certain drugs and chemicals, certain food supplements or medications, or by using a sleeping deprivation collar. The paradoxical aspect of REM sleep has been widely studied, especially concerning the relationship between alcohol and REM sleep. Many studies have concluded that alcohol reduces REM sleep, making it difficult to induce sleep during the waking hours.

Stages Of Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness can be divided into two stages: light and dark. REM sleep can be initiated by a rapid eye movement (REMS) during the first stage of sleep, resulting in the delta waves of drowsiness or the classic binaural beat. Some studies indicate that theta waves are also released during REM sleep. However, the only proven way to induce sleep during this stage is by hypnotic suggestion.

Stage I: The Waking Stage- In this stage, the body temperature is still elevated and there is a lot of mental activity happening. The major physical activities are metabolic rate, blood circulation, and digestion. People tend to remember things that were learned while they were awake, but the level of consciousness is not yet restored. During this stage, people do not usually recall dreams.

Stage II: The Dreaming State- Dream state people generally do not remember things they have dreamed. They are also not active while in this stage of sleep. This is the time when most dreams occur.

Stage III: The Deep Sleep Stage- The body is very relaxed and almost in a dream state. The mind is also at a leisurely state of wandering. Dreamers can roam freely while they are in this deep sleep stage. The body also reaches its maximum density during this stage.

Stage IV: The Waking State- People usually wake up in the morning but they don’t remember falling asleep. Their memory is rather hazy. If you try to study it, you will find that this is another dream state. The body is mostly inactive. People often remember dreaming during their waking moments but can’t seem to remember anything that occurred during the deep sleep stage.

The above-mentioned four stages are only an indication of the different stages of sleep. Each person has a different pattern that sleep follows. Most people sleep on their stomachs but some may sleep on their back or sides. Some people just experience a few stages of the dream state while others have multiple dreams during the same night.

There are many ways to determine the dream state and identify the stage of sleep. One way is by keeping a watch on your body temperature. When do you feel hot? Your heart rate also increases during this time. Another way is to determine your level of comfort with dim lights.

Other indicators can help you determine the dream state. Many people who are afraid of dreams will have episodes of REM sleep. The duration of your dream can also determine this. Longer than average dreams have shorter durations. Usually, it is short enough for us to understand but long enough for our unconscious mind to make a distinction.

One thing is for sure. No matter what type of sleep we are having, we are dreaming. Some people are lucky enough to be able to awake with their memories intact. Those who are not so lucky, however, find themselves unable to get back into REM sleep because they have dreamed and yet cannot go back to sleep again.

How To Increase The REM Sleep Stage

We all know that REM is the stage of brain activity that occurs when we are sleeping. However, a lot of us have already asked ourselves this question – “How can we get more REM sleep?” This is a good question because we might be missing out on this important part of our sleep.

  • Go To Sleep Early: The normal REM usually starts during the early morning. If there is a need to wake up early, then there are no chances to reach REM level. So, it is suggested to elongate the REM which you can do by taking extra minutes of nap. You can try and adjust your time of going to bed a few minutes earlier.
  • You can also follow a proper routine of going to bed. Create a routine of what to do and at what time and try following it religiously. Because REM increases only by sleeping regularly at the same time. You can also rub essential oils on your feet to sleep quickly and at the right time.

Other Things

Apart from the main things, a few other things that you should do is maintain proper bedding. You can try using comfortable and cozy bedding like duvets and comforters. If you are confused about buying and using duvets then you can easily research online about them.


The effect of REM sleep on the body is not fully understood. But there is a lot of speculation as to how it affects the body during sleep. Some people claim that it does affect the body, and others say that it does not. No matter what your beliefs are about REM sleep, there is now science behind why it is so important for your body to get the full eight hours of sleep each night.

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