Sleep is an important part of your daily routine; you spend roughly one-third of your time doing it! Quality sleep, which means getting enough of it and staying asleep for an uninterrupted period of time, is as essential to your health as food and water. This is because it is important to a number of body functions, like repairing tissue damage, and brain functions, including storing information into memories. While you may be resting, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. This is particularly true during the part of your Sleep Cycle known as REM.
First, what is REM?
There are two basic types of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep (which has three different stages, including Deep Sleep). Each stage is linked to specific brain waves and neuronal activity. REM sleep is a stage of sleep that is characterized by low muscle tone, rapid eye movements, and vivid dreams. You cycle through all stages of sleep several times during a night of good sleep, with increasingly longer, deeper REM periods occurring toward the morning.
REM sleep first occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. During it, mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes closer to that seen in wakefulness. Your eyes move rapidly from side to side behind closed eyelids, so someone else would actually be able to tell you’re in REM. That’s pretty amazing! As well, your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heart rate and blood pressure increase to near to what it would be if you were wide awake. Despite how much work is being done inside, you do not move at all. Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which many scientists believe prevents you from acting out your dreams.
Why is REM sleep Important?
- Scientists believe memory consolidation occurs in REM. Older adults spend less of their sleep cycle in REM, which helps to explain why they often have a less-sharp memory of recent events. This also shows why getting enough sleep is incredibly important for these individuals, as older adults have less opportunity to enter REM.
- Dreaming occurs in REM. The exact purpose of dreams is not known, but dreaming may help you process your emotions. Events from the day often invade your thoughts during sleep, and scientists believe dreams are a way to help you manage anxiety, grief, and other strong feelings. Those who experience significant anxiety also report less dreams.
- REM sleep is important because it is the restorative part of our sleep cycle. It is actually important for your learning. Your brain consolidates and processes information from the passing day in order to store it in your long-term memory, making room for the next day’s information.
Deeper Sleep With A Better-Quality Mattress
Without quality sleep that regularly cycles through REM, you can’t form or maintain the pathways in your brain that allow you to learn and create new memories, and it’s harder to concentrate and respond quickly. If you think you’re waking up too often throughout the night and therefore not entering REM the way you need to, we can help! Come into your nearest City Mattress and speak to a Sleep Expert about your troubles. Many times, a better mattress can be a big part of the solution! You will have the opportunity to lay on and try out several different mattresses, based on what you tell us is happening with your current mattress. Very soon, maybe even tomorrow night, you’ll be sleeping soundly through the entire eight hours and entering REM the way your body requires!