Health and Wellness

What is REM Sleep? Is it Important?

What is REM Sleep? Is it Important?

In the chaos of modern life, we often overlook the importance of sleep. It is not a mere pause in our activities or a rest period; it is an important biological process that plays a fundamental role in our physical and mental well-being. While we sleep, our bodies undergo complex changes, allowing them to repair and rejuvenate themselves.

REM (Rapid Eye Movement) holds importance among the distinct sleep stages. REM sleep is a fundamental aspect of human existence, playing a vital role in memory consolidation, emotional processing, and cognitive function. When we get enough sleep, we can think more clearly, learn more effectively, perform better physically, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.

What is REM sleep?

What is REM sleep?

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. What is more interesting is the functioning of your brain during the REM sleep cycle, which is similar to the functioning of your brain while you are awake. You enter the REM sleep stage approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. During REM sleep, the body and brain undergo several changes:

  • Rapid movements of the eyes;

  • Increase in heart rate;

  • Increase in blood pressure;

  • Increase in brain activities.;

  • Increase in the consumption rate of oxygen by the brain;

  • Fast and irregular breathing;

  • Changes in body temperature;

  • Sudden movement of the face and limbs.

Why is REM sleep important?

Why is REM sleep important?

REM sleep is the stage of your sleep cycle that consolidates your memories, processes your emotions, develops and activates your brain, and makes you dream. Memory consolidation is the process of transferring short-term memories into long-term storage. REM sleep is crucial as it strengthens brain connections, making memories less susceptible to interference and more resistant to decline over time.

Additionally, REM sleep involves emotional processing, brain development, and mood regulation. Children need to develop their brains and enhance their cognitive abilities. Hence, adequate REM sleep is essential for overall mental health and well-being.

How much REM sleep do you need?

How much REM sleep do you need?

Sleep varies for everyone; it depends on age, environmental conditions, genetics, and sleep cycle. The amount of REM sleep needed varies from person to person, but it is generally considered essential for dreaming and emotional processing. In healthy adults, REM sleep typically accounts for about 25% of total sleep time.

Stage Sleeping (%)
NREM 1 5
NREM 2 45
NREM 3 25
REM 25

Your sleep is divided into 2 phases: NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) and REM. NREM is further classified into three stages: NREM 1, NREM 2, and NREM 3. Each stage is important to relax your body and mind. The NREM 1 stage is the lightest sleep stage you enter when you fall asleep, which lasts about 7 to 10 minutes. Here, you may get awakened and remain aware of the happenings around you.

Next, you enter NREM 2, where your body temperature, heart rate, breathing speed, and eye movements decrease, and the brain starts producing sleep spindles, which last about 20 minutes. The last stage of NREM 3 is when you experience deep, delta, or slow-wave sleep that lasts about 20 to 40 minutes. Here, it is difficult to awaken, with a drop in blood pressure, breathing, and muscle tone, which may lead to sleepwalking.

REM sleep is the final stage involving increased brain activity, rapid eye movement, temporary paralysis (atonia), and vivid dreaming. During REM sleep, the body becomes immobilized, and the brain enters learning and memory mode. This stage plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and cognitive function.

Who gets more REM sleep?

Who gets more REM sleep?

The amount of REM sleep varies from person to person depending upon their age, lifestyle, and other factors. Infants and children generally experience higher amounts of REM sleep than older individuals, as it plays a crucial role in their brain development.

What is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)?

What is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD)?

RBD is when you physically act out your dreams while asleep. It can include talking, yelling, punching, kicking, jumping out of bed, or running. People with RBD are usually unaware of their actions until they are awakened by the person sleeping next to them or by their movements.

Can REM Sleep Disorder be cured?

While REM sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is not currently curable, various treatment options can effectively manage its symptoms. These include seeking professional help, implementing lifestyle changes, and employing safety measures like bed alarms to alert individuals when they start moving around during sleep.

What are the consequences of a lack of REM sleep?

Prioritizing sleep quality is crucial for our overall well-being and a better quality of life. Compromising on this could lead to risky health consequences, making it a non-negotiable part of your routine. Lack of REM sleep can take a toll on your body,


  • Obesity: Besides food, an irregular sleep cycle is also one of the triggering reasons for obesity. People often overlook the importance of sleep in weight loss, where a minimum of 8 hours of sleep is required for a healthy lifestyle. Practice healthy eating habits and follow regular sleep cycles to avoid tiresome nights.

  • Migraine: Lack of REM sleep degrades your brain's functionality, making it more vulnerable. People with migraines are more likely to have a migraine attack due to REM sleep deprivation. Follow a consistent sleep cycle to avoid migraines that restrict your brain from functioning.

  • Hair loss: Lack of REM sleep causes stress, which triggers hair follicles to fall into an early resting state, leading to hair loss. Follow a proper sleep schedule and other hair care tips to avoid hair loss.

How to get better REM sleep?

How to get better REM sleep?

If you lack this important sleep stage, consider implementing one or more of these habits to increase your REM sleep duration.

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, including weekends.

  • Sticking to a regular sleep pattern will help regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, promoting better sleep quality and overall well-being.

  • Avoid caffeine, smoking, and alcohol.

  • Avoid things that make you tired and sleep-deprived. Eat products that enhance your body and do not disturb your sleep cycle.

  • Practice relaxing activities before sleep.

  • Listen to music, read a book, watch your favorite show, or walk before you sleep.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Be productive throughout the day to avoid sleepless nights.

To sum it up, REM sleep is an essential stage that plays a vital role in memory consolidation, learning, emotional processing, and brain development. Avoid REM behavior disorder by getting enough REM sleep, which is important for your overall well-being. Healthy sleep habits and addressing sleep disturbances ensure sufficient REM sleep. A good night’s sleep includes a balance of all four sleep cycle stages. So, embrace these insights and enhance your sleep quality and overall health.

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