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

Understanding our sleep cycle gives us insight into how our sleep patterns work and can help us identify reasons why our sleep is mainly disturbed. We have two main types of sleep, Non-REM (NREM) and REM sleep. NREM sleep is characterized by three stages of sleep, light sleep to restful sleep to deep sleep.

REM or Rapid eye movements is characterized by dreaming and is the state in which restoration of our brain and body functions occurs, including energy conservation and memory consolidation. We cycle through different stages, one, two, three, and REM throughout the night. Each cycle takes approximately 90 minutes and repeats throughout the night. So let’s talk about the 4th stage, which is REM.

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is one of the four stages that the brain goes through during the sleep cycle. This period of the sleep cycle usually takes place about 90 minutes after a person first falls asleep. During this stage, the body and brain go through several changes, including Rapid movement of the eyes in different directions, fast and irregular breathing, brain activity resembles wake time, sexual arousal, increased heart rate, and body temperature changes.

In most people, a state of temporary paralysis is experienced as the brain signals the spinal cord to shut down the movement of the arms and legs (also called Sleep Paralysis). This activity may be a protective mechanism to prevent injury that might happen by acting out our dreams.

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

REM is important because most dreams occur during REM sleep, and it is thought to play a role in learning, memory, and mood. It is present in all mammals and has unique physiologic properties that distinguish it from NREM sleep.

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