Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep

By Gillian Fournier

One type of sleep phase, characterized by rapid movements of the sleeper’s eyes, low muscle tone, and rapid, low-voltage EEG. In adult humans, REM sleep typically occupies about one-quarter of total sleep time, and most dreams also occur during this phase. People tend to have irregular breathing/heart beat patterns as well as tiny, involuntary muscle spasms.While adults usually only get 90 minutes of REM Sleep per 7 or 8 hours, infants spend 50% of their time in REM.

There are five stages of sleep, 1 (Light Sleep), 2 (True Sleep), 3/4 (both are called Deep Sleep), and REM. In the Light Sleep phase people are easily awakened because they are half awake and half asleep. People can sometime remember images or things that were going on around them when they are woken up during this phase.

During true sleep our brain waves slow way down with only an occasionally periods of waves commonly known as sleep spindles.

During stages 3 and 4 it can be very difficult to wake someone up. It is during this phase that sleepwalking and bedwetting can happen. The person breathes in a rhythmic way and there is no movement of the eyes or the muscles. If the person is woken up during this time they will feel a bit lost or confused.

To Learn more about REM or sleeping disorders, please visit: http://www.sleepdisordersguide.com/rapid-eye-movement-sleep.html


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jul 2010