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Difference Between REM and NREM

REM vs NREM

After a day’s work, the body is worn out from all the stresses, and a good night’s rest is all that is needed. The body must rest in order to regenerate lost energy and make it stress free again. One of the best ways to have a respite for the body is through the form of sleep. Physiologically, sleep is a multifaceted process of renewal and restoration of the body. Still, scientists cannot explain the definitive cause why humans need to sleep. Sleep, as we do know, is not just “switching off” or an inactive course of the body’s entire functions; sleep is considered to be very essential in many physiologic processes of the brain like the fusing of different memories and experience processing. Not only for human beings but also for more or less every animal it is quite apparent that sleep is important for survival.

As a human falls into sleep, he ventures into different cycles of sleep. The body experiences two key sleep cycles: REM and NREM. Initially, when a person falls into sleep, he then goes into a non-rapid eye movement or NREM sleep. Afterwards, it proceeds to rapid eye movement or REM sleep when already in deep sleep.

In REM sleep, twitching of the eye muscles occurs resulting in quick movements under the eyelids, thus it is termed as rapid eye movement sleep. However, during non-rapid eye movement sleep, the eyes remain still. Most of the time, sleep is spent in NREM sleep though the body will undergo cycles of REM and NREM sleep. REM sleep lasts for about two hours in a single night’s sleep while NREM sleep goes on for four to six hours.

REM sleep is experienced during a few episodes of sleep in a single night. It is also called the “dream sleep.” REM sleep is when the brain cleans up and rids itself of unnecessary memories. In REM sleep, one becomes semi-conscious and aware of the cleaning process of the brain. That is why a person is able to say that he is dreaming. On the other hand, in NREM, it is still possible to dream at some times, but it is during the deeper stages of sleep wherein consciousness is not as vivid as in REM sleep. As a result, the person tends not to remember anything at all about his dreams. Since dreaming is occurring during the REM sleeping periods, the brain exerts more energy expenditure than in NREM sleep. REM is also characterized by an increase in brain functioning and heart rate while the body is in a paralyzed state.

Studies have shown that REM sleep functions as a psychological repair mechanism of the brain. During REM periods, the brain is resting from stress and rejuvenating. If a person lacks REM sleep, he tends to become depressed and not in the right mood. Yet, NREM sleep functions as a physical repair mechanism for the body. It is a healing process of the body wherein muscle and bone building are occurring and tissues regenerate. If a person is lacking NREM sleep, he tends to have a weak immune response to stress and appears tired and lethargic.

Though both cycles of sleep are indispensable for the best possible health of an individual, REM and NREM have differences in terms of their characteristic effects on the body during sleep.

Summary:

1.In REM sleep, twitching of the eye muscles occurs resulting in quick movements under the eyelids, thus it is termed as rapid eye movement sleep. However, during non-rapid eye movement sleep, the eyes remain still.

2.REM sleep lasts for about two hours in a single night’s sleep while NREM sleep goes on for four to six hours.

3.In REM sleep, the person is aware of his dreams while in NREM sleep the dreams are oftentimes forgotten.

4.During the REM sleeping periods, the brain exerts more energy expenditure than in NREM sleep.

5.REM sleep functions as a psychological repair mechanism of the brain whereas NREM sleep functions as a physical repair mechanism of the body.


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