REM Sleep and Dreaming

There is a strong connection between REM sleep and dreaming, when images in the brain can be so vivid that they issue commands to the body.

REM Sleep

REM sleep (REM refers to Rapid Eye Movement) is a state of sleep identified by scientists in the early 1950’s. Dr. Nathan Kleitman, a professor of physiology at the University of Chicago, and one of his graduate students, Eugene Aserinsky, investigated the relationship between eye movement and sleep.

They discovered that if they woke someone while their eyes were still moving rapidly from side to side, the person would almost always say that they were in the middle of a dream.

During REM sleep, vivid images in the brain can issue commands to the body, such as jump, run, or kick. Eye movements in various directions correspond with the types of actions reported by the dreamer. Denise Linn, author of The Hidden Power of Dreams explains that these action-oriented messages are countermanded by neurons in the brain stem that disconnects much of our muscular apparatus so that our large muscle groups are effectively paralysed during the dream state. When this area of the brain of the brain stem has been damaged, people have been known to act out their dreams dramatically, sometimes so much so that they needed to be restrained in their beds to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

According to Linn, REM states generally repeat in 90-minute cycles. The first usually occurs when we first fall asleep. The average sleeper has four or five REM periods per night. The first ones are about 10 minutes in duration, and the one in the early morning is usually 30 to 45 minutes long.

There are dream scientists that propose that dreaming refreshes the cortex (the outer layer of the brain) by clearing overloaded circuits. This means that dreams are an electrochemical process to clear away unusable data collected during the day.

Related Posts

* Rapid Eye Movement Behaviour Disorder

* Dream Facts

* Dream Disorders

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