We continue to relax and calm more our heart rate and

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We continue to relax and calm more. Our heart rate and breathing slow even more and start to take on a regular slower pattern. We are clearly asleep, but could awaken fairly easily in this stage. Finally, in N-REM-2, we may sleep talk and have short dreams. N-REM-3 At this time, we have now been sleeping for about 25 minutes. We then enter N-REM-3, a very deep sleep that lasts about 25-30 minutes. Someone named this stage of sleep the “silent darkness” of sleep. It’s one of our deepest stages of sleep. It is very difficult to awaken during this stage. Our muscles are very relaxed, our heart rate is very regular and slow, and our breathing is too. The EEG will show large and slow “delta waves.” These waves look very different from any other sleep stage and signify a distinct low consciousness. If we are awoken in N-REM 3, we will feel very groggy, unhappy, and lethargic. N-REM 3 sleep is the stage where we may have bedwetting (typically only in childhood) and sleep-walking. Yes, sleep walking! This means that if you encounter a family member sleep-walking, they are in a very deep sleep. Waking them up at this time is likely to be very frightening and startling to them. It’s best not to wake them up if you can; simply gently and quietly guide them back to bed!
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REM At this point, we have been asleep for about an hour. We may actually “surface” for a moment to consciousness, and then immediately drop down into REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. Like N-REM 3, it is a very deep form of sleep and usually lasts about 25-30 minutes. It’s also a fascinating stage of sleep. On the inside, our brain and autonomic (automatic functions like heartbeat, breathing, etc.) are very active. On the outside, we are totally relaxed and can’t move. For this reason, this stage of sleep is ofen call “paradoxical sleep.” Our brain waves are very active, our breathing is quicker, our heartrate is elevated, our eyes are darting back and forth (rapid eye movement), we show signs of involuntary sexual arousal, and our blood pressure is elevated. If you didn’t know we were sleeping, you’d think by these signs alone that we would be taking a brisk walk or doing something very active. On the contrary! While all of this internal activity is taking place, our body is “out.” In fact, the brain shuts off signals to our muscles so they can’t move. We are essentially temporarily paralyzed. We are VERY still, VERY calm, VERY much unconscious! And, ironically or paradoxically, we experience very vivid and active dreams during this stage of sleep. It’s a good thing we are temporarily paralyzed, or we might act out our dreams and injure ourselves. Finally, REM sleep is the place where we consolidate all the day’s learning and memories. It is essential for memory and learning as well as brain cell repair. If we don’t get REM sleep, we are likely to be forgetful, sluggish, or even mentally confused the next day.
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  • Spring '18
  • Steven E Wampler
  • REM, Research About Sleep

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