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Chapter: Medical Physiology: States of Brain Activity-Sleep, Brain Waves, Epilepsy, Psychoses

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REM Sleep (Paradoxical Sleep, Desynchronized Sleep)

In a normal night of sleep, bouts of REM sleep lasting 5 to 30 minutes usually appear on the average every 90 minutes.

REM Sleep (Paradoxical Sleep, Desynchronized Sleep)

In a normal night of sleep, bouts of REM sleep lasting 5 to 30 minutes usually appear on the average every 90 minutes. When the person is extremely sleepy, each bout of REM sleep is short, and it may even be absent. Conversely, as the person becomes more rested through the night, the durations of the REM bouts increase.

There are several important characteristics of REM sleep:


1.It is usually associated with active dreaming and active bodily muscle movements.

 

2.The person is even more difficult to arouse by sensory stimuli than during deep slow-wave sleep, and yet people usually awaken spontaneously in the morning during an episode of REM sleep.

 

3.Muscle tone throughout the body is exceedingly depressed, indicating strong inhibition of the spinal muscle control areas.

 

4.Heart rate and respiratory rate usually become irregular, which is characteristic of the dream state.

 

5.Despite the extreme inhibition of the peripheral muscles, irregular muscle movements do occur. These are in addition to the rapid movements of the eyes.

 

6.The brain is highly active in REM sleep, and overall brain metabolism may be increased as much as 20 per cent. The electroencephalogram (EEG) shows a pattern of brain waves similar to those that occur during wakefulness. This type of sleep is also called paradoxical sleep because it is a paradox that a person can still be asleep despite marked activity in the brain.

 

In summary, REM sleep is a type of sleep in which the brain is quite active. However, the brain activity is not channeled in the proper direction for the person to be fully aware of his or her surroundings, and there-fore the person is truly asleep.


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