Differences Between REM Sleep and Deep Sleep

7 mins read
Differences Between REM Sleep and Deep Sleep

REM sleep and deep sleep play a fundamental role in your physical and psychological health. However, it is quite common to confuse the two and even think that they appear at the same time. However, this is far from the truth. They differ in many ways and are so unique in their purpose and characteristics that they are worth delving deeper into.

Differences Between REM Sleep and Deep Sleep
Even if you spend ten hours in bed, if you don’t spend 13 percent of that time in deep sleep, you will wake up feeling tired.

Deep sleep is the most restorative of the sleep cycle, while REM is irregular and may not appear even if you drink alcohol or take certain medications. Deep sleep supports processes such as growth or tissue repair, while REM opens the door to the world of dreams.

Since you spend almost a third of your life sleeping, you should know what your brain is doing during this time. It doesn’t matter that not every process that happens during these hours is under your control. Understanding this and knowing how to get a restful sleep is decisive for feeling good, being productive, learning, remembering, etc.

Differences between REM sleep and deep sleep

Rest is divided into two phases. Of this, 75 percent is NON-REM sleep and the remaining 25 percent is REM sleep. You start with non-REM sleep, which begins with a small transitional phase when you alternate between wakefulness and sleep. During this period, waking up is really easy.

Gradually you move into the second stage, where your brain waves slow down and your body temperature drops. It is in the third stage that you finally approach the threshold of deep sleep. This is a period lasting between 15 and 30 minutes when your muscles are completely relaxed. Your pulse and breathing slow down and it is extremely difficult to wake you up.

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From then on, if your rest continues, you will begin the most important stages of sleep. We will now explain the differences between REM sleep and deep sleep.

They occur in different stages

Deep sleep occurs in the third stage, also known as the ‘recovery stage’. It is an important moment for you to rest, because your brain performs tasks of decisive importance. Tissues are repaired, cellular energy is restored by eliminating compounds, many of your hormones start working and learning is established.

REM sleep is the fourth stage and starts about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. It is also called paradoxical sleep because your brain appears awake, unlike your body, which is deeply relaxed. Dreams occur during this stage.

Brain waves are different

One of the differences between REM sleep and deep sleep lies in brain waves. While the latter has absolute synchronization, REM sleep is characterized by lower amplitude and higher frequency brain waves similar to what you have when you are awake.

During the REM stage, your blood pressure, heart rate and respiration increase. Also, your eyes move quickly, whether you are dreaming or not.

You can live without REM sleep but not without deep sleep

How do you usually feel when you wake up in the morning? Rested and ready to face the day or exhausted? The quality of your night’s rest depends on whether you spend at least 13 percent of your time in deep sleep. If this is not the case, several things can happen:

  • Diyabet ve kardiyovasküler hastalık geliştirme riski artar.
  • Akıl sağlığınızda değişiklik yaşama riski. Örneğin, stres, kaygı ve depresyon.
  • Beyninizin hafızayla bağlantılı bölgesi olan hipokampus, bazı yönlerden başarısız olur. Bu, yeni bilgiler oluşturmanın sizin için zor olduğu anlamına gelir.
  • Yeterli derin uykuya sahip olamamak, yorgunluk ve konsantrasyonu sürdürmede güçlük ile sonuçlanır. Bu, yaşam kalitenizi ciddi şekilde etkiler.
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On the other hand, what is the situation with REM sleep? What happens if you don’t reach this stage? Research shows that REM sleep deprivation in humans for weeks has little effect. It is also interesting to learn that people taking antidepressants find their REM sleep restricted.

The Sleep Research Center in Surrey (UK) has done research showing that this fact is fairly well tolerated. Indeed, they found that although lack of deep sleep has extremely detrimental effects, the same thing does not happen with REM sleep.

REM sleep and deep sleep: how to take care of them

A sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Four to six cycles per night is normal. REM sleep and deep sleep are not the same thing, but your overall well-being depends above all on sufficient deep sleep. Also, enjoying an adequate balance between all these phases of sleep architecture.

What can you do to ensure that each stage is completed and that you enjoy a good night’s sleep? Here are some tips:

  • Maintain regular routines: go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  • Avoid exposure to electronic devices two hours before bedtime.
  • Relax with a hot shower before bed.
  • Avoid carbohydrates at night (sweets, rice, pasta, etc.).
  • Sleep hygiene experts claim that the ideal temperature for sleeping is between 18 and 21 degrees.

Finally, never forget the importance of a good night’s sleep. Indeed, sleeping well allows you to live better.


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