REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is one of the most important of the stages of sleep. If this sleep stage is disturbed, even for one night, it can throw the body’s whole circadian rhythm off-kilter, causing grogginess and an inability to concentrate.
So, what is it that makes REM sleep so crucial?
Discovered in 1953 by Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman and Dr. Aserinsky, REM sleep is characterised by quick, random movements of the eyes and muscle paralysis. Early tests showed that during the REM stage, the brain displayed similar electrical activity which was usually only observed during wakefulness. This discovery was subsequently referred to as either REM, or Paradoxical sleep, which referred to the paradoxically enhanced brain activity.
The body goes through sleep cycles several times a night. The REM stage occurs between 4 – 5 times per night, increasing in duration with each cycle. As the body enters the REM stage, the neural activity of the brain intensifies, which in turn affects the breathing muscles and causes snoring and sleep apnoea.
Research indicates that REM sleep is so vital because it aids the consolidation of learning and memories. This is supported by evidence that babies have the longest periods of REM sleep. As you age, the amount of REM sleep you have declines. REM sleep also has the strongest restorative effect on the body, which means that if a person goes without it, their body will not have a chance to properly heal itself from daily activities.
REM sleep is also the stage in which you are most likely to dream. Studies have shown that dreams in this stage of sleep are more vivid, bizarre and emotionally charged. Researchers are still in the process of learning about the effect of REM sleep and why we dream, but the theory is that dreams are a way for the brain to process emotions, information, memories and stress.
The best way to ensure that you are getting enough REM sleep is to:
- Take up a meditation practice before sleep
- Stick to a relaxing bed time routine
- Refrain from eating a few hours before bed
- Maintain the same bed time every evening
- Invest in a sleep monitor to discover whether your routine is helping you achieve the correct amount of REM sleep
If you would like to find out more about how REM-Fit sleep monitoring technology can help you to get a better night’s rest, please get in touch with our experienced, knowledgeable staff by calling 020 8731 0020 or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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