When you settle in for a good night’s sleep, your body goes through different stages to reach its most restorative state. One of these stages is REM sleep – Rapid Eye Movement – and it’s during this time that we experience some of our most vivid dreams. But what exactly happens during REM sleep? And why do we dream?
Understanding the Sleep Cycle
To understand what happens during REM sleep, it helps to know about the different stages of sleep.
Stage 1: The Drifting Off Phase
In the first stage of sleep, your eyes are closed, but you’re still aware of your surroundings. This phase lasts only a few minutes before transitioning into stage 2.
Stage 2: Light Sleep
During stage 2, your body temperature drops as you become more relaxed. Your brain waves start to slow down, and muscle twitches may happen occasionally.
Stage 3: Deep Sleep Begins
At this point around an hour after falling asleep, deep or slow-wave non-REM sleep begins with theta and delta waves becoming prominent on an EEG machine that measures brain activity.
Stage 4: Deepest Sleep
This is when deep non-REM stage foursleep commences. It’s challenging to wake someone up from this asleep due to how deep a treatment they are in.
But then comes the most exciting part. . .
What Happens During REM Sleep?
Typically occurring about every ninety-minute cycle throughout the night—REM occurs beginning at ten minutes extending upto sixty-five minutes each cycle but becomes progressively longer toward morning whereby there might be multiple in one cycle depending on if someone has missed them earlier in their sleeping session until reaching ninety-minutes duration when it begins again. It was later noted by researchers at Italy’s University Hospital of Parma that the need for REM cycles– may vary per person and affected by external factors such as age, diet, exercise habits, and sleep quality.
During this time, your body goes into a state of paralysis to prevent you from acting out your dreams physically- giving known outcomes such as sleep walking or talking- while your brain activity increases significantly. REM sleep is called “paradoxical sleep” because it’s marked by intense brain activity but minimal movement.
Rapid Eye Movements
As the name suggests, during REM sleep there are rapid movements in our eyes under our eyelids. For most individuals they are not voluntary but rather an inherent part through their dream phase – linked neuro-receptors stimulating different parts of brain connecting to images may also occur during during NREM which can be recalled first thing upon waking too.
Heart Rate and Breathing
Both heart rate and respiration rates become irregular during this stage; thus some people with underlying conditions might experience issues with arrhythmia—irregular heartbeat or breathing difficulty. However, for healthy patients these changes serve a purpose like regulating blood flow as increased oxygen uptake occurs
The Importance of Dreams
Now that we understand what happens during REM sleep let’s look at why we dream? From early history till now several interpretations have been associated to what purposes do dreams serve -FREUDIAN, -JUNGIAN & SPIRITUAL meaning attributed dreams like shadowing off something hidden within ourselves unconsciously wishing alleviating past issue more realistically seen in view both psychology & behavioural biology.
However, in recent years behavioral biologists look beyond this subconscious shell established saying It could still hold true yet it’s primary purpose is being consolidating short-term memories into long term ones so much so dreaming enhances creativity, connectivity between thoughts etc.
Although still many intricate aspects involved when discussing sleep but vital is that while sleeping body undergoes various stages each responsible in their respective ways to repair and rejuvenate the brain and body as on which dreams form subconsciously mostly during REM-the rapid eye movement stage. It’s clear that a healthy amount of restful sleep is essential for optimal physical and mental health benefiting from long- & short-term memory, creativity & learning processes.
Q: Why do we need to dream?
A: Dreams serve several purposes including consolidating short-term memories into long-term ones, enhancing creativity, making connections between thoughts & stimulating the subconscious mind.
Q: Can you move during a REM cycle?
A: During REM sleep, your body goes into paralysis to prevent acting out any dreams physically so it may be nearly impossible to move unless you wake up or experience an abnormality.
Q: How many times do we go through the different stages of sleep every night?
A: On average, a person goes through four or five 90-minute cycles consisting of non-REM followed by severalI call this too vague – ranging from two minutes.
Table : Sleep Cycle Stages
|Slow rolling under closed lids
|More theta activity with waves interrupted by rapid jumps called K-complexes
|3 or NREM Stage three
|Very relaxed, almost paralyzed
|Rapid brain activity and similar to wakefulness in EEG pattern
|Rapid movement under lids
- National Sleep Foundation. Stages of Sleep. Retrieved from https://www. sleepfoundation. org/how-sleep-works/stages-sleep
- Rector, D. M. , & Poe, G. R. . Becoming conscious: The science of sleep/dreams and its implications for the aging brain. Progress in Neurobiology.
Although much more we could delve into regarding sleep patterns mentioning surrounding external stimuli with environmental issues too, little is known about dreams themselves which many people experience nightly these are commonly experienced during rapid eye movement phase REM however there are still captivating insights developed by research daily about human slumbers! Perhaps it will be the key to unlocking the secrets behind why we dream?