REM is basically short for Rapid Eye Movement, which is called as such because of the rapid movements that your eyes make when you reach the REM stage. What’s so special about REM sleep, you ask? Well, it is only during the REM stage that we dream. Although we are in deep sleep during the REM stages, our brain cells are extremely active thus able to create vivid dreams.
You will reach the REM stage only after experiencing several phases of non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep makes up at least 80% of an adult’s sleep. You are not in a deep sleep during the non-REM stages and can be woken up easily. Your cells regenerates and heals only towards the end of the non-REM sleep entering into the REM state. It will take at least 90 minutes after you fall asleep to enter the REM stage. This explains why you might still feel tired after a short afternoon nap.
The length of time taken to enter the REM state differs according to age, health or how tired you are. It is easier to enter the REM stage if you have not been sleeping well for the past few nights. You will also tend to have longer REM sleeps when you are younger. For instance, 50% of an infant’s sleep is made up of REM. REM sleep will usually last for about 20 minutes after which you will go through the same non-REM phases as before. The REM stage will last longer with each cycle. The cycle repeats itself until you are awake.
The cycle of non-REM and REM phases should happen every night continuously for at least 8 hours in general. The human body is created in such a way that rest is essential. However, many young adults find it hard to find any time to rest in order to keep up with the fast paced world. Sleep deprivation can have severe impact on a person’s life. Bad memory, heavy mood swings, lack of concentration and losing the ability to make judgment are some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation. In worse cases, sleep deprivation can lead to seizures, hallucinations, diabetes or even an early death.
It has been proven that sleep deprivation is more common in women than men. Insomnia, which is a condition whereby the person finds is difficult to sleep, is very common among women. This is due to the hormonal imbalance often faced by women especially when having their monthly period or during pregnancy. The lack of sleep and the hormonal imbalance can lead women into severe depression.
Did you know that you can actually lose weight in your sleep? This is because your brain is most active during the REM stage. It requires the burning of fuel, which translates to calories. One advice I would give if you are looking to lose weight is to avoid alcohol before sleeping. Alcohol has been proven to prevent you from reaching that REM stage that you will need to lose weight.
If you think that the term beauty sleep is a myth, think again. The secretion of growth hormones increases dramatically when sleeping. Studies have shown that growth hormones which is needed mainly for cell regeneration and healing also helps maintain that youthful and wrinkle-free skin that every person, man and woman alike, crave for.
A common disease related to REM sleep is called the REM sleep behavior disorder. Many of us suffer from this disease without being aware of it. People who suffer from the disorder will display when sleeping sudden and violent arm and leg movements, shouting, swearing and or jumping to subconsciously act out the vivid dreams that they are having. It is a disorder because the entire body should be paralyzed during REM sleep. Although the disorder will not cause tiredness, it may affect the person sleeping on the same bed or in the same room.