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When Do Dreams Occur In Sleep Cycle

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A Time For Mental Recharge

What Are Sleep Cycles? – Everything You Need To Know!

REM sleep is a phase thats closely linked with mental recharge. During its time in REM throughout the night, your brain refreshes and restores itself. This is one reason why REM sleep is so important, and why a healthy sleep routine with sufficient amounts of REM sleep is essential to feeling mentally and emotionally well, and to performing at your best during your waking life.

REM sleep is believed to play an important role in learning, memory, and emotion. It is often thought of as the sleep phase during which the brain restores itself. The areas of the brain that are most active during REM sleep are those related to thinking, learning, and decision-making, as well as to emotional regulation. REM sleep is linked to the brains ability to make new associations, aiding in the acquisition of new information, problem solving, and creativity. Research indicates REM may play an important role in some forms of memory consolidation, the process by which brain converts newly acquired information into longer-term memory. Evidence also suggests that during REM sleep the brain is at work processing emotions, helping to regulate mood.

Rem As Part Of Your Sleep Cycle

Its clear that the exact purpose of dreaming is still under debate. What we do know is that dreaming is a unique way to experience memories and thoughts during REM sleep. Experts also agree that all of the sleep stages are important for maintaining healthy sleep. REM and the other sleep stages do not occur all at once. Instead, periods of REM are interspersed among other stages of sleep as you move through a series of sleep cycles. Over the course of a night, the NREM stages account for about 75% of your sleeping time, with the remaining 25% percent spent in REM sleep. You will typically go through the entire cycle of sleep stages multiple times each night, needing about 90 minutes to complete the process each time.

If you ever feel like you might be spending a lot more time dreaming than what is usual for you, it could be that you are experiencing a phenomenon called REM Rebound. This tends to occur most often to people who are sleep deprived and therefore not getting enough REM sleep. REM, like the other stages of sleep, is a biological necessity. If you do not get enough, you can accumulate a debt and your brain compensates by promoting REM the next nights. This REM rebound can happen among people whose sleep is disrupted due to their work, travel, medications, or for other reasons. The majority of REM occurs later in the night, so if you only sleep for a short time then you might miss out on the periods when your body typically gets the most REM.

Happy dreaming!

Dreams Mostly Happen During Rem Sleep

In the REM stage of sleep, your breathing will speed up slightly, and youll experience temporary paralysis as you begin to dream.

Experts dont fully know why this paralysis happens, but some have theorized your muscles freeze so you dont get up and begin moving around in an unconscious reflection of your dream.

dreaming every night. You probably wont remember every single one of those dreams, though.

If someone wakes you up during REM sleep, you might know you were just dreaming, perhaps vividly.

When someone wakes you up during NREM sleep, on the other hand, youre far less likely to feel as if you were just dreaming.

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What Are The Sleep Stages

There are four sleep stages one for rapid eye movement sleep and three that form non-REM sleep. These stages are determined based on an analysis of brain activity during sleep, which shows distinct patterns that characterize each stage.

Sleep Stages
REM Sleep10-60 minutes

The breakdown of a persons sleep into various cycles and stages is commonly referred to as sleep architecture. If someone has a sleep study, this sleep architecture can be represented visually in a hypnogram.

The classification of sleep stages was by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine . Before that, most experts referred to five sleep stages, but today, the AASM definitions of the four stages represent the consensus understanding of the sleep cycle.

What Is Rem Sleep

What Happens To Your Brain When You Sleep?

Usually, REM sleep happens 90 minutes after you fall asleep. The first period of REM typically lasts 10 minutes. Each of your later REM stages gets longer, and the final one may last up to an hour. Your heart rate and breathing quickens.

You can have intense dreams during REM sleep, since your brain is more active. REM is important because it stimulates the areas of the brain that help with learning and is associated with increased production of proteins

Babies can spend up to 50% of their sleep in the REM stage, compared to only about 20% for adults.

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How Can You Have A Healthier Sleep Cycle

While you dont have full control of your sleep cycle, you can take steps to improve your chances of having a healthy progression through each sleep stage.

A key step is to focus on improving your sleep hygiene, which refers to your sleep environment and sleep-related habits. Achieving a more consistent sleep schedule, getting natural daylight exposure, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and eliminating noise and light disruptions can help you get uninterrupted sleep and promote proper alignment of your circadian rhythm.

If you find that you have excessive daytime sleepiness or otherwise suspect that you might have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, its important to talk with a doctor who can most appropriately guide your care. Addressing underlying issues may pave the way for more complete and restorative sleep cycles.

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Chemicals In The Brain

Compared to slow-wave sleep, both waking and paradoxical sleep involve higher use of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which may cause the faster brainwaves. The monoamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and histamine are completely unavailable. Injections of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which effectively increases available acetylcholine, have been found to induce paradoxical sleep in humans and other animals already in slow-wave sleep. Carbachol, which mimics the effect of acetylcholine on neurons, has a similar influence. In waking humans, the same injections produce paradoxical sleep only if the monoamine neurotransmitters have already been depleted.

Two other neurotransmitters, orexin and gamma-Aminobutyric acid , seem to promote wakefulness, diminish during deep sleep, and inhibit paradoxical sleep.

Unlike the abrupt transitions in electrical patterns, the chemical changes in the brain show continuous periodic oscillation.

Models of REM regulation

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Sleep Cycles In Other Animals

Sleep Cycles in Other Animals

Humans may be unique in a lot of ways, but the fact that we sleep is not one of them. As discussed, sleep is important for recovery, memory storage, and growth, so it makes perfect sense that other animals need sleep, too.

However, the length of sleep, brainâs state of consciousness, and whether dreaming occurs differs among species.

But do all animals even sleep? Research has shown that birds and mammals sleep . That is, they become unconscious to their surroundings for a certain period of time. Reptiles sleep, but research is inconclusive regarding whether they reach a REM sleep-like state.

Fish and amphibians reduce their state of awareness but do not ever become unconscious . Insects, on the other hand, do not appear to sleep , although they may experience periods of inactiveness .

It is important to understand that while other animals also sleep, different types of animals have different sleep cycles. Birds and mammals share non-REM and REM sleep, but for birds, both cycles are much shorter â non-REM averages roughly two and a half minutes while REM lasts about only nine seconds .

The length of these cycles also ranges from mammal to mammal. For example, REM sleep occurs for 24 minutes in the cat and 12 minutes in the rat .

It is possible that reptiles dream, since past studies reveal they also exhibit some form of REM sleep , but researchers are still uncertain as to whether this is completely true.

Are All Sleep Cycles The Same

Stages of Sleep, REM Sleep & Dreaming

It is normal for sleep cycles to change as you progress through your nightly sleep. The first sleep cycle is often the shortest, ranging from 70-100 minutes, while later cycles tend to fall between 90 and 120 minutes. In addition, the composition of each cycle how much time is spent in each sleep stage changes as the night goes along.

Sleep cycles can vary from person to person and from night to night based on a wide range of factors such as age, recent sleep patterns, and alcohol consumption.

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Do Dreams Affect Everyday Life

Knowing the exact impact of dreams on daily life remains subject to further research, but there are a number of ways that dreams may influence our waking hours:

  • Healthy dreaming may be indicative of quality sleep that facilitates sharper thinking, better mood, and overall health.
  • People who remember their dreams often show higher levels of creativity. Creative insights may also be increased by incorporating the imaginative thinking of dreams into waking life.
  • Dreaming may provide for more expansive or inspirational thinking, forming the underlying concept behind the maxim to follow your dreams.
  • Dreaming may enhance memory consolidation, making it easier to remember important information.
  • People with mental health disorders, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder , may experience worse symptoms as a result of recurring nightmares.
  • Nightmares may interrupt sleep, causing daytime sleepiness, worsened mood, or thinking problems during the day.

Can You Change Or Control Your Dreams

Its not uncommon to want to get rid of nightmares, have more interesting dreams, or control what happens during your dreams.

Unfortunately, you cant always pop out of a nightmare or snooze-worthy dream as easily as you might wish. Still, during REM sleep, you could have some level of consciousness of the fact that youre dreaming.

About 55 percent of people will have this type of dream, called a lucid dream, at least once in their life.

During a lucid dream, you can change or control the content of your dream since you know it is, in fact, a dream.

Try these tips if you want to try to increase your awareness when dreaming:

  • Wake back to bed method . As the name of this approach implies, you wake up shortly after going to sleep. For example, you can set an alarm for 5 hours post-bedtime and fall asleep like you usually would. After your alarm goes off, stay awake for about 30 minutes doing a calm activity that keeps you alert, like reading. Go back to sleep after that period and you may experience a lucid dream.
  • Dream journaling. Tracking your dreams helps you remember them. This may make it easier for you to recognize when youre dreaming. Its a good idea to jot down your dreams right after you wake up, then read your dream journal over, especially before bedtime.
  • Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams . With this method, you set an intention for yourself ahead of time to remember that youre dreaming. You can do this by repeating this intention out loud to yourself.

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How Much Sleep Does The Average Person Need

So, how much sleep do you meed?

It seems that the amount of sleep required differs from person to person, however as a rough guide experts have come up with the following daily sleep guide based on age:

  • Newborns : 14-17 hours
  • Babies : 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers : 11-14 hours
  • Preschoolers : 10-13 hours
  • Children : 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers : 8-10 hours
  • Adults : 7-9 hours
  • Elderly : 7-8 hours

What’s also important is to look at how you’re waking up – ie, after how many sleep cycles.

If you wake to an alarm every day, your sleep is likely to be interrupted mid-cycle. This is such a common problem it’s known as getting out of the wrong side of the bed. This may also explain why you’re not a morning person.

An alarm cuts your sleep short arbitrarily and denies your final REM phase. It’s much healthier to wake up after the cycle is complete which is what happens without an alarm.

Fortunately, there is a growing array of sleep tech to achieve this without being two hours late for work every day. These gadgets and apps can track your sleep cycles and wake you only once a cycle is complete.

Repair Work In Progress

Ever Wondered: What is Sleep...?  Fresh Med NYC

During deep sleep , your cells repair and rebuild, and hormones are secreted to promote bone and muscle growth. Your body also uses deep sleep to strengthen your immunity so you can fight off illness and infection.

It’s important to realize that sleep does not progress through the four stages in perfect sequence.

When you have a full night of uninterrupted sleep, the stages progress as follows:

  • Sleep begins with NREM stage 1 sleep.
  • NREM stage 1 progresses into NREM stage 2.
  • NREM stage 2 is followed by NREM stage 3.
  • NREM stage 2 is then repeated.
  • Finally, you are in REM sleep.
  • Once REM sleep is over, the body usually returns to NREM stage 2 before beginning the cycle all over again.

    Time spent in each stage changes throughout the night as the cycle repeats .

    Sleep architecture refers to the exact cycles and stages a person experiences in a night. A sleep specialist may show you this information on what’s known as a hypnograma graph produced by an EEG.

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    Discovery And Further Research

    Recognition of different types of sleep can be seen in the literature of ancient India and Rome. Observers have long noticed that sleeping dogs twitch and move but only at certain times.

    In 1937, the German scientist Richard Klaue first discovered a period of fast electrical activity in the brains of sleeping cats. In 1944, Ohlmeyer reported 90-minute ultradian sleep cycles involving male erections lasting for 25 minutes. At University of Chicago in 1952, Eugene Aserinsky, Nathaniel Kleitman, and William C. Dement, discovered phases of rapid eye movement during sleep, and connected these to dreaming. Their article was published September 10, 1953. Aserinsky, then Kleitman, first observed the eye movements and accompanying neuroelectrical activity in their own children.

    William Dement advanced the study of REM deprivation, with experiments in which subjects were awoken every time their EEG indicated the beginning of REM sleep. He published “The Effect of Dream Deprivation” in June 1960.

    Hiroki R. Ueda and his colleagues identified muscarinic receptor genes M1 and M3 as essential genes for REMS sleep.

    Why Do We Dream

    Many of us wonder exactly why we dream. There are no definitive answers, but experts have some theories. Research on dreaming includes exploration of both psychological and neurological functions. Theories about the purpose of dreaming cover a wide terrain and often overlap with one another. Sometheories positthat dreams are a means to integrate new experiences into your memory and to process emotional events as a way of regulating mood. Related to this, our brains may use the process of dreaming for managing and organizing data through memory consolidation and learning helping clear the brain to take on a new day. In other words, dreaming may be the brains way of de-cluttering itself after a long, active day of acquiring new information. These would mean that dreams are a response to stimuli gathered throughout the day, but dreams could also be a response to external stimuli that occur during sleep itself. Another theory is that dreaming functions as a sort of rehearsal space where the brain readies itself for future real-life experiences and events. Finally, some argue that dreaming is nothing more than electrical impulses and brain chemicals.

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    What Is Rem Sleep Exactly

    About 90 minutes after falling asleep, its showtime. We tend to associate REM sleep with dream creation, but its function actually goes deeper than that: Scientists believe the REM cycle may play a role in sorting and storing memories, supporting neuroplasticity and learning new skills, regulating mood, and even in how we process other peoples emotions and respond to stressful situations.

    Think of non-REM sleep as body-restorative and REM sleep more as mental-restorative, says Deborah Sewitch, Ph.D., CPC, a sleep researcher who has authored over 50 articles on the subject in peer-reviewed scientific journals and held faculty appointments at four medical schools, including Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania. During REM sleep, which involves the lower brain centersthe brainstem and the thalamusconnecting up with the higher cortex, your brain waves become fast and shallow.

    In fact, EEG scans show that brain waves during REM sleep resemble brain activity during wakefulness. REM sleep is a paradox because even though its a stage of sleep, your brain is wide awake, says Chhatwal. Its no surprise then that if you wake up in the middle of a REM cycle, youre more likely to remember the dream you were just having.

    Circulation Respiration And Thermoregulation

    Understanding our sleep cycle: REM and non-REM sleep

    Generally speaking, the body suspends homeostasis during paradoxical sleep. Heart rate, cardiac pressure, cardiac output, arterial pressure, and breathing rate quickly become irregular when the body moves into REM sleep. In general, respiratory reflexes such as response to hypoxia diminish. Overall, the brain exerts less control over breathing electrical stimulation of respiration-linked brain areas does not influence the lungs, as it does during non-REM sleep and in waking. The fluctuations of heart rate and arterial pressure tend to coincide with PGO waves and rapid eye movements, twitches, or sudden changes in breathing.

    Erections of the penis normally accompany REM sleep in rats and humans. If a male has erectile dysfunction while awake, but has NPT episodes during REM, it would suggest that the ED is from a psychological rather than a physiological cause. In females, erection of the clitoris causes enlargement, with accompanying vaginal blood flow and transudation . During a normal night of sleep, the penis and clitoris may be erect for a total time of from one hour to as long as three and a half hours during REM.

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