Did you know there are actually five stages of
sleep? Each stage can be easily distinguished from each other: two
are light sleep, the following two are deep sleep and the fifth is
a short, 15-minute burst of rapid eye movement, or REM sleep. Our
sleep expert,
Dr
Nerina
shares her thoughts on deep sleep versus
REM sleep.



What is deep sleep?


In deep, non dreamless sleep, there is virtually
no body movement and it is likely that this is where our deepest
restoration comes from. Deep sleep phases vary in duration
throughout the night with the first 90 minute cycle of sleep made
up mostly of deep sleep with 7-10 minutes of REM sleep.


What is REM sleep?


REM sleep is the result of the brain trying to scan the events
in the dream world. In other words, if you look left and right in
your dream, then your eyes will follow the dream and move left and
right under your eyelids. In this stage, your body goes into a
state of paralysis or otherwise, we might start acting out our
dreams!


REM sleep varies in duration throughout the night with the first
stage lasting around 7-10 minutes. As sleep progresses throughout
the night the REM stages become longer, to around 45 minutes.


Which is more important?


While deep sleep is vital, so is REM sleep. In laboratory
studies, rats who usually live for two or three years, if deprived
of REM sleep live only three weeks on average. REM sleep stimulates
the brain regions used in learning, particularly for normal brain
development during infancy - this could explain why babies spend
much more time in REM sleep than adults.


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