Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

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Definition - What does Rapid Eye Movement Sleep mean?

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a sleep stage characterized by intense bioelectric activity in the brain comparable to wakefulness, with the individual experiencing protracted intervals of REM sleep into the night. The body undergoes distinct homeostatic functions and processes during REM sleep that contribute to intracellular growth and repair, cognitive functionality, and motor performance.

SureHire explains Rapid Eye Movement Sleep

Medical evidence proposes that REM sleep helps promote learning, consolidate memory, and assist retention of information, crucial aspects that support emotional health. Distinct physiological changes occur during REM sleep including accelerated breathing patterns, elevated blood pressure, rapid eye movements, and dream episodes. For most people, temporary paralysis, also called atonia, is a natural consequence of REM sleep that prevents involuntary movement of the limbs that can cause potential injury(s).

Although REM sleep decreases with age, the National Sleep Foundation suggests that a deficit of REM sleep may influence an individual’s capacity to handle stressful conditions. In the workplace, stress often induces sleep deprivation that can undermine job productivity due to inadequate REM sleep at night. Furthermore, sedentary jobs that entail the use of technological equipment can reduce the secretion of melatonin, a biochemical agent that regulates circadian rhythm cycles.

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a neurological condition that disrupts biorhythms in which the body is incapable of motor paralysis, causing individuals to act out dream sequences. Polysomnography testing is the benchmark for diagnosing cases of RBD followed by treatment solutions that include medication and modifications to the sleep environment. Sleep hygiene is a vital component in achieving optimal sleep coupled with conferring with a doctor for individuals who are potential candidates of a sleep disorder that can diminish REM sleep, such as sleep apnea.

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