Sleep is essential for physical and mental wellbeing. Sleep is our body’s chance to restore and revitalize for the day ahead. But did you know that there are different types of sleep? REM sleep is one of the most interesting stages of sleep—when we dream and our brains are active. It is also very beneficial for cognitive wellness. 

For a quick guide to all you need to know about the sleep cycle, keep reading! 

Wait…Is It an Acronym?

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, named for the movement of this sleep stage—your eyes move back and forth rapidly.

This is the dreaming stage. Though dreams can occur at any point throughout the sleep cycle, REM sleep is when dreams become the most vivid and intense. If you think back on the most vivid dreams you have had, chances are they took place in this cycle.

During REM sleep, we are temporarily paralyzed, which prevents us from jumping up and acting out these vivid dreams in real life. REM sleep is a period of increased brain activity during sleep.

Why Is REM Sleep Important?

REM sleep is a period of significantly increased brain activity throughout the night. In these vivid dreams, our brains are assessing situations and responding, even if they are bizarre. 

Studies have shown that REM sleep is essential for cognition, creative thinking, and problem-solving. It’s like exercise for the brain! Getting enough of it can drastically impact our cognition skills. 

How Does it Differ from Non-REM Sleep?

There are four different stages of sleep that our bodies cycle through every night:

  • NREM N1 
  • NREM N2
  • NREM N3
  • REM

As you fall asleep, you coast through each of these stages. We start in N1, the drifting off, light sleep stage. N2 sleep is the beginning of relaxing sleep, as your body eases up and your breathing and heart rate slow. 

N3 is when we hit deep sleep. Deep sleep is extremely important for the mind and body, as this is the body’s chance to recover from the previous day. 

REM sleep takes up about 25% of a night’s sleep, leaving the remaining 75% to NREM. These stages also serve an important purpose, allowing for body restoration through the night. Poor sleep prevents us from moving the various sleep stages adequately, which can be detrimental to long-term health.  

The Power of REM Sleep

REM sleep is a powerful tool that our minds use to increase cognition and problem-solving! This stage of sleep uses vivid dreaming to help our brains perform at their best during the day. 

Are you concerned about your sleep habits? If you want to increase REM sleep and get a better night’s rest, check out our available services