What is REM sleep?

This question was asked in Miami, Florida on 08/16/2013.
What is REM sleep and why does it matter? What happens if I don't get enough REM sleep but I'm still sleeping 8 hours a night?

Doctors Answers (3)

SomnoDiagnostics, Inc.
Answered on: 8/22/2013

REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. REM sleep in adults typically consists of 20-25% of total sleep or about 90-120 minutes of a night's sleep. During a normal night of sleep, we usually experience about four or five periods of REM sleep; these periods are usually short at the beginning of the night and longer toward the end. Many animals and some people tend to wake, or experience a period of very light sleep, for a short time immediately after a bout of REM. The relative amount of REM sleep varies considerably with age. A newborn baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM. During REM, the REM sleep is physiologically different from the other phases of sleep and vividly recalled dreams mostly occur during REM sleep.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 8/19/2013

REM or rapid eye movements stage of sleep is a part of the normal sleep wake cycle. It is thought to be a stage of sleep when we dream and process some information we gather during wakefullness. Any disruption of the sleep wake cycle including REM sleep may lead to nonrestorative sleep -meaning you may wake up tired and function poorly during the daytime. It is important to have enough total sleep- most of us need about 8 hours of sleep (like you report) but it is also important to go through all stages of sleep and all cycles of sleep (we usually have several cycles of light sleep, deep sleep and REM during those 8 hours). Sleep studies sometimes may be needed to see if sleep architecture -sleep stages and cycles- is normal. Best of luck to you.

Robert C. Jones, M.D.
Answered on: 8/19/2013

REM is an acronym for Rapid Eye Movement described by the back and forth motion of the eyes in this deepest stage of sleep. REM sleep is important because this is when your body is at its most relaxed state, allowing the body to restore and rest from normal daily function. The amount of REM sleep a person may get is dictated by many factors including age. If you feel unrested upon awakening and think you may not be getting enough REM sleep, it could be a result of some kind of arousal during sleep preventing it. It is advised that you be evaluated by a sleep disorder specialist to correlate your medical history with your symptoms to determine a course of testing/treatment.