What exactly is REM Sleep?

November 7, 2008

in Sleep Facts

Rem Sleep Explained

I really think “rem sleep” is a buzz word people like to throw around like synergy and decentralization in a corporate environment. But what exactly is this type of sleep? I did my research and I am going to explain it to you. First you must understand that many parts of the body remain surprisingly active while we sleep and this fact is especially true for the brain and the eyes. The different stages of sleep repeat themselves in quick succession and the REM stage time increases with advancement of sleep cycles.

Understanding The Different Stages Of Sleep

Contrary to common perception, our body just does not shut down when we go off to sleep but undergoes different sleep stages in quick intervals. The brain controls the sleep cycle and the eyes are the major body organs which respond to the endless stream of signals being generated by the brain.

In a normal sleep cycle you will experience 5 stages in succession. These 5 stages have been broadly categorized into two groups or types of sleep. The first four stages comprise the first group and this group is commonly known as NREM or non rapid eye movement sleep. The second group comprises of the last stage and is known as REM or rapid eye movement sleep.

REM and NREM differ in terms of brain activity mostly. REM is accompanied by involuntary rise in heart beat, blood pressure and breathing and negligible muscle activity. NREM comprises the first two thirds of the sleep and REM comprises the last third.

4 stages of sleep

Stage 1 in NREM is the time when you actually start feeling drowsy and start drifting in and out of sleep. You lose muscle control gradually and eye movements slow down considerably. Sudden muscle contraction is quite common.

Stage 2 is almost half of your total sleep time. Eye movements drop completely, heart and brain activity lulls and the body temperature drops.

Stage 3 is quite similar to stage 4 in terms of body response and muscle activity. The brain waves are very slow during this time and there is absolutely no body movement. REM sleep is interspersed in different stages of sleep and has no correct order of appearance. REM repeats itself in every sleep cycle gradually increasing in time. Starting at 10 minutes in first sleep cycle and ending up at 1 hour in the sleep cycle just before you wake up.

Stage 4 The brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. Stages 3 and 4 are referred to as deep sleep. In deep sleep, you have no muscle or eye activity and waking someone up when they are in this stage is next to impossible. These stages are usually when you experience “peeing the bed”, walking in your sleep or night terrors.

I hope this helps, it helped me understand more!


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Green November 12, 2008 at 3:58 pm

I wet my bed up until I was 12 and the doctor said it was my sleep pattern. Now I know what he meant.


jimmys devoted December 4, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Sleep types and sleep stages are two different things. Sleep walking, night terrors, somnambulance, cataonia,sleep eating,night psychosis, etc are types of sleep.
Stages of sleep are what is being discussed.
NonREM, REM etc.
we cycle through all for STAGES every 90 minutes.

Twilight, nonrem, rem, deep, elevates back through the cycle.
Peeing the bed however has different etiology within the sleep cycle and are more to do with a different brain chemical release than actual sleep chemical.



jimmys devoted December 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm

IN answer to the exact question REM sleep is Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep. The eyes are moving at a faster rate than through daytime use.
REM stage is the one that recharges the brain. there was a clinical study where REM was deprived of those asleep and the brain did not recharge. We can often delve right into REM if we are exhausted.


hoygirl December 9, 2008 at 2:27 pm

MMM very interesting. I wake up a lot because of back pain. So I have no idea what kind of stages I go through. Is it possible to keep starting over every time you wake up? In the morning when I do finally get up I am very tired to the point that if I don`t get out of bed I will go back to sleep. A lot of times I think it`s because of the pain meds I take before I go to bed but I don`t always take them. So do these stages start over each time you wake up?


jimmys devoted December 11, 2008 at 9:04 am

Chances are good that for those who have chronic pain, REM cycle is only fleeting since the brain has to concentrate more on other chemicals.

Its like when your ill and you are dreaming teh dreams are strange. new released chemicals interfere. The same with axion nerve stimulus. It changes needs and results in no brain recharge.


Kurt Holohan July 4, 2013 at 11:03 am

Getting in sync with your body’s natural sleep–wake cycle—your circadian rhythm—is one of the most important strategies for achieving good sleep. If you keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, you will feel much more refreshed and energized than if you sleep the same number of hours at different times. This holds true even if you alter your sleep schedule by only an hour or two. Consistency is vitally important.;”*`

See you in a bit


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: