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The Science of Dreaming

Here's a little info on how Sleep Cycles work, and how they effect your dreaming...

Five Stages of your Sleep Cycle

Each night you pass through four stages of sleep (Non-REM sleep), before entering into the fifth and final stage called REM sleep.

(REM = "rapid eye movement.") Each stage takes 90-120 minutes to complete, and completing all 5 stages marks one full sleep cycle. Once you pass through the REM stage, the 5 stages start over again and a new sleep cycle begins. On average, if you sleep for eight or more hours per night, you are completing a total of five full sleep cycles.  

In the first sleep cycle, the REM stage typically only lasts about 10 minutes. However, with each recurring sleep cycle, REM stage lengthens, and the final REM stage may last up to an hour. Adults spend about 20% of their sleep in the REM stage, and although REM is not fully understood, we do know that REM deprivation impairs our ability to learn complex tasks and hinders the formation of long term memories.  

Best Time For Dreaming?

Your longest, most intense, and most memorable dreams will usually occur in the fourth and fifth sleep cycles (after about six hours of sleep) during the longer periods of REM. This means that it is essential to get sufficient rest in order to not miss out on REM sleep! Sleeping in or going to bed early will allow extended REM time in the morning or at the end of your 4th and 5th sleep cycle. (Studies have shown that it is actually healthier to complete 4-5 sleep cycles, which means the average adult needs between 7-8 hours of sleep).

As for dreaming, completing the final sleep cycles and the final REM stages will allow you to experience more vivid dreams, and your over-all dream recall.

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