About REM

Why Sleep?

When a person sleeps, he enters different phases of sleep, known as Rapid Eye Movement(REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. Within the individual phases, there are further classifications. For instance, tonic and phasic stages occur during REM sleep.

REM Sleep

From the various researches on effects of sleeps, it is speculated that REM sleep  occupies a quarter of sleeping time, and four to five periods of REM sleep are experienced when one sleeps. At the end of the first period, one is easily aroused. The duration of the next few periods of REM sleep eventually lengthens.

REM sleep is also called paradoxical sleep due to the contrast in brain and muscles activities. Neurons are active; yet one is physically immobile during sleeps due to an absence of strong brain waves. Dreaming when one sleeps is also often part of REM sleep.

Importance of REM SLEEP

  • One sleep for survival

REM sleep is of paramount importance in enabling species to survive due to how complicated the brain works. The brain continues working even when one sleeps.

Not only is the quantity of sleeps important, the quality is equivalently essential. A person sleeps to rest and regain energy. On top of that,  sleeps allow the promotion of creativity and crystallising of memories.

Experiments have shown that animals suffering from a lack of REM sleep are more vulnerable to opportunistic infections which may eventually lead to death. REM sleep deprivation may lead to physiological and/or behavioural disorders, permanent disruption to sleeps, lowered brain mass and an odd amount of neuron cell death. However, there is a proposal that REM sleep deprivation may actually help improve certain types of depression albeit not proven.

  • Sleeps boost creativity

Sleeps enhance creativity by varying levels of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and hormones such as noradrenergic.

Increased levels of acetylcholine inhibits the feedback loop from the hippocampus to the neocortex region. Lower levels of acetylcholine and noradrenergic in the neocortical regions promotes neural activity, independent of the hippocampus. Indeed, sleeps, especially REM sleep in particular, enables the neocortical structures to reorganise themselves and hence promote creativity.

  • monoamine inhibition

While sleeps help to strengthen memory, the argument of REM sleep crystallising procedural and spatial memories is also flawed.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants prevent REM sleep from occuring effectively, yet there is no sign of them handicapping one’s memory. These antidepressants are able to inhibit REM sleeps due to them acting on monoamines. Nonetheless, MAO inhibition may exist to ensure that receptors recover such that they are more sensitive to signals from their environment.