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Difference Between REM and NREM


Sleeping is one of the most relaxing and refreshing activities we can engage in. It refreshes our mind and body. It gives us a sense of well-being after a very tiring and stressful day. It keeps us in a good mood. It has positive benefits for our body. Thus, sleeping is good for one’s overall health.

In sleeping, different phases occur. This important subject is being studied by health and medical professionals. It is even more important among sleep doctors and sleep therapists who aid people who are having sleeping problems, such as those with insomnia or hypersomnia.

Two phases of sleeping which occur during this activity are REM and NREM. Though REM is not included in the stages of sleep, it is said to be a normal stage when sleeping. Let us examine what are the differences between the two.

REM, or rapid eye movement, occurs during sleeping and is said to be a normal stage of sleeping. Under REM, two categories fall under this normal stage, namely, tonic and phasic stage.

Characteristics of REM include; rapid eye movements, low-voltage electroencephalogram which can be rapid too, and muscle tone that is low in intensity. One-fourth to one-fifth of our total sleeping time belongs to the REM cycle while 75% of the sleeping time in babies is attributed to the REM cycle.
In sleeping, we should not forget about our dreams which can be vivid or not. According to studies, vivid dreams occur during the REM cycle. REM sleep can also be referred as paradoxical sleep.

NREM or non-rapid eye movement is a group of sleeping cycles which can be broken down from stage 1-3. REM is not included here. In NREM, muscles are paralyzed due to the deep sleep unlike in the REM cycle. Dreaming also does not occur in NREM unlike in the REM cycle. Lastly, rapid eye movements do not occur in NREM. The current stages of sleep under the NREM cycle are formulated by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

Stage 1 – This is the beginning of the sleep. Slow eye movements occur in this phase.
Stage 2 – In this phase, dreams rarely occur and eye movements are not noted.
Stage 3 – This stage is accompanied by deep sleep. Dreams occur here but not as memorable as those in the REM cycle.


1.REM is not classified under the stages of sleeping unlike NREM.
2.In REM, dreams mostly occur in this stage and can be vividly remembered unlike in the third stage of NREM.
3.In NREM, muscles are paralyzed but in REM the muscles aren’t.
4.In REM, eye movements are evident unlike in NREM.

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