REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a very important part of our sleeping pattern. This stage of sleep is the most important phase of sleep that we experience. Rapid eye movement sleep is the 5th stage of our sleep pattern which generally happens around 60 – 90 minutes after go to sleep. For the period of REM sleep our eyes tremble rapidly under our closed eyelids; our respirations become shorter and irregular, our heart beat gets faster and blood pressure increases.During REM sleep, our brain is nearly as active as when we are awake. During this phase of sleep, our muscles become paralyzed (atonia) which prevents us from acting out our dreams.
REM sleep can influence memory
REM sleep is very important because it’s a time when our brain areas associated with memory become active. It’s theorized that while we are in REM sleep, dreams are the result of the data being absorbed during the day being analyzed and filed away. REM sleep seems to improve upon our procedural (how to do things) memory. Non-REM sleep, as in a daytime nap, seems to improve declarative (easily recalled) memory. During REM sleep we can enter a type of virtual reality, where some things we dream may have symbolic significance, which is different from our waking state. It is somewhat surprising that the brain’s filing system can always make space for new data.
Significance of REM sleep for restoring energy
REM sleep is restorative. When we don’t get enough REM sleep, we sometimes feel like we haven’t slept at all. Restorative sleep is controlled by circadian clock which is a natural mechanism within us. Our circadian clock tells us when it is time to go to sleep and when it is time to wake up.
To experience full restorative sleep, we should try to sleep according to the inner clock within us, rather than the clock on our bedside table. Oftentimes, those of us who work during our normal hours of sleep, have to change our circadian rhythm to accommodate our working and sleeping hours.
To enjoy full restorative sleep, we should be able to sleep according to our circadian inner clock. A hormone, called Melatonin, is responsible for helping us set our inner clock. Without our circadian rhythm, our sleeping periods we would not feel as rested as we should.
Sleep (all the phases) restores the body as if we have batteries that require recharging. The amount of sleep a person needs is somewhere between 6 and 9 hours of sleep per day or night. The 6 to 9 hours of sleep per day or night gives our body the time it needs to get through all of the required phases of sleep. REM sleep is extremely important because it is the restorative part of sleep.
No one exactly understands the phases of sleep, or how sleep works to restore us. We just know that we need it to survive. Individuals who consistently lack the REM cycle in their sleep pattern can run the risk of falls, injuries, car accidents, as well as physical and mental health problems. Lack of REM sleep can have a detrimental effect on concentration, motor skills and memory. Sleep deprivation can affect the immune system and the nervous system.